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Business Briefs: BCC microgrants to decrease student debt; ambulance services merge; Catwalk holiday party; education award for Austen Riggs staff

The Guardian Value Scholarship program identifies students who are in good academic standing but unable to re-enroll due to college debt.

BCC to offer microgrants to decrease student debt

Pittsfield — Berkshire Community College and Guardian Life Insurance Company of America are offering microgrants to select students to help them pay their past-due debts and stay on track to graduate.

The Guardian Value Scholarship program identifies students who are in good academic standing but unable to re-enroll due to college debt. The scholarship can help reduce or remove a student’s debt to BCC, which, in turn, allows the student to register for upcoming spring 2018 classes. The maximum value of the scholarship is $1,500.  If students owe more than $1,500, they are expected to pay down the remaining balance of their debts before they can register.

Scholarship recipients must agree to take a full course load of 12 or more credits, including a free personal finance. For more information, contact Anne Moore of BCC’s financial aid office at (413) 236-1641.

–E.E.

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North Adams Ambulance, Village Ambulance merge

A Village Ambulance Service vehicle. Photo courtesy Village Ambulance Service

North Adams — North Adams Ambulance Service board President Robert Moulton Jr. and Village Ambulance Service board President Dr. Erwin Stuebner have announced that, after a Nov. 29 approval by their respective boards, an agreement to merge the two services effective Jan. 1, 2018, has been signed.

In early 2017 it became apparent that, despite the same volume of calls, VAS’ revenues were decreasing to the level that threatened its sustainability despite significantly decreasing expenses. A group consisting of representatives of VAS, the town of Williamstown, Williams College and the Williamstown Fire Department was formed to explore options to ensure that VAS’ emergency medical services to Williamstown, Hancock and New Ashford would be stabilized and strengthened. With the assistance of a consultant and after hearing three different presentations, it was the unanimous opinion of the group that a merger with NAAS would result in a strong and financially stable service.

After several months of financial, operational and legal due diligence, the merger proved to be feasible, resulting in the signed merger agreement. The parent corporation will be NAAS but the service will be rebranded. There will be no change in the level of service currently provided by either organization. The existing bases in North Adams and in Williamstown will continue in use, fully staffed and with the same number of crews currently housed in each location. VAS’ non-emergency van transport service will be continued and, it is anticipated, will be made available to more residents in the future. The new organization will continue as a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) corporation and will not require ongoing subsidy from the towns it serves.

–E.E.

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Catwalk to hold holiday party

Great Barrington — Catwalk Boutique will host its second annual holiday party Wednesday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since Catwalk’s beginnings as a weekend pop-up store in November 2013, it has grown into a year-round permanent endeavor that supports the Berkshire Humane Society. Attendees will be able to sip champagne and wine and nibble on sweet and savory goodies as they shop a 40 percent off sale. Customers will also be able to take part in a free raffle to win a $50 gift certificate. All proceeds from Catwalk sales go directly to support the homeless animals of Berkshire County. For more information, contact Catwalk at (413) 717-4005 or info@catwalkboutique.org.

–E.E.

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Austen Riggs Center staff receive educational award

Donna Elmendorf, Ph.D. Photo courtesy Austen Riggs Center

Stockbridge — Austen Riggs Center staff Donna Elmendorf, Ph.D.; Dr. Claudia M. Gold; and Kate Jewson, B.S. have been recognized for their work in the Human Development Strategic Initiative, receiving the Anna Freud Educational Achievement Award from the American Psychoanalytic Association’s schools committee.

This annual award is presented to a person, school or educational institution that furthers psychoanalytically informed work with pre K–12 educators, schools and their students. The prize and the accompanying honorarium will be presented during APsaA’s national meeting in February 2018.

Dr. Claudia Gold. Photo courtesy Austen Riggs Center

The Discovering Your Baby Project, the first project of Austen Riggs’ Human Development Strategic Initiative, deepens the understanding and practice of infant mental health in Berkshire County through the use of the Newborn Behavioral Observations System. The NBO, a clinical adaptation of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale developed by pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, is designed as a relationship-building tool to promote parents’ curiosity about the meaning their babies’ behavior.

 –E.E.

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