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Great Barrington Rotary honors Fairview’s Barbieri as ‘Citizen of the Year’

Barbieri, the director of emergency management at Fairview and therefore a familiar face to thousands, was lauded as a pillar of the community who gives selflessly to the others and, most recently, helped vaccinate thousands against COVID-19.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The list of past honorees is long and distinguished. The luncheon that accompanies the event is usually packed with admirers. Local dignitaries and lesser known figures are full of praise for the guest of honor.

Welcome to the Rotary Club of Great Barrington’s Citizen of the Year luncheon. About 75 people smiled and applauded yesterday at the Crissey Farm banquet facility as Fairview Hospital’s Heather Barbieri was feted by a string of speakers that included friends, colleagues and public officials.

Barbieri Pignatelli Rotary 2022
State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli shares a light moment with Barbieri, left, and the audience. Photo: Terry Cowgill

Barbieri, the director of emergency management at Fairview and therefore a familiar face to thousands, was lauded as a pillar of the community who gives selflessly to the others and, most recently, helped vaccinate thousands against COVID-19.

“It’s a great pleasure to honor Heather this year,” said Rotary member and Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon. “She got my entire family of five vaccinated.”

Barbieri also ran clinics at local schools that resulted in vaccination rates of 86 percent in Du Bois Middle School and Monument Mountain Regional High School, and 70 percent at Muddy Brook Elementary School, which had a lower rate because its youngest students are not yet eligible for the vaccine, Dillon said.

Dillon also noted that Barbieri “is in great company.” Past recipients of the rotary’s Citizen of the Year award include local legends Tracy Seckler, Terry Chamberland, Jennifer Dowley, Fred and Sally Harris, Jack Spencer, Laurily Epstein, John Stookey, Lola Jaffe, Hilda Banks Shapiro, Chip Elitzer, Erik Bruun, Alice Bubriski, Don Ward, Tom Consolati, Karen Smith and Rachel Fletcher.

Barbieri has worked at Fairview since 1994, grew up in Berkshire County, went to Monument Mountain Regional High School and Berkshire Community College, and received a bachelor’s degree in human services and emergency management from Empire State College and a master’s degree in emergency management at Jacksonville State University.

Barbieri lives in Great Barrington with her husband Kurt and their children. She and her team at Fairview have vaccinated approximately 30,000 residents since the vaccine became available.

Barbieri Rotary
Barbieri thanked the Rotary, friends, and family for the honor.
Photo: Terry Cowgill

“Heather is very deserving and works tirelessly for our community,” said Rotary President Stephanie Carlson. “Heather keeps us safe and healthy and puts service above self in everything she does.”

“She is more active in the community than anybody at Fairview Hospital,” added Tony Rinaldi, Fairview’s executive vice president. “She does things the right way every time … when you give her something to do, she gets it done.”

Doreen Hutchinson, chief nurse and vice president for operations at Fairview, was equally effusive: “You’re not the only ones that know that she’s a star. She started at Fairview the same year I did. She is very mission focused. We are so proud of her accomplishments … She really has been the face of our hospital and has worked so hard to make us credible and trustworthy.”

State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli lauded Barbieri for the “amazing job” she has done over the years and presented her with two citations: one from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and another from the state House of Representatives.

Of the latter piece of paper, Pignatelli quipped, “I’m told if you put this on the back window of your car, no tolls on the turnpike.”

For her part, Barbieri kept her acceptance short and sweet. She was humble about the success of the vaccinations at the schools, adding that, “There isn’t one thing we asked for that they didn’t take care of.”

“The rotary is an organization that promotes the values that are close to my heart such as service above self, integrity, goodwill, and peace,” she continued. “I am blessed to have the support of my family, my Fairview family, and hundreds of other people across the county and state. Without that support, my success would not have been possible.”

The event concluded with Carlson presenting a check from the rotary for $300 to be given to a nonprofit of Barbieri’s choice.

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