Railroad Street Youth Project Celebrates 15 Years at Generation Block Party, May 31, 2015

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Austen Dupont turned his life around thanks to the Railroad Street Youth Project.

The 18-year-old’s initial involvement with RSYP was through mandated community service in 2012. He quickly became one of the organization’s more active members, giving him direction and purpose.

On Saturday Dupont graduates from Mount Everett Regional School and in the fall plans to study business management at Westfield State University.

The Sheffield teenager credits RSYP for helping him get a high school diploma.

“I would have dropped out instead,” he said.

Dupont was among more than 30 young people RSYP honored during its inaugural Generation Block Party Sunday afternoon at it’s Bridge Street home next to Memorial Field.

RSYP Executive Director Ananda Timpane cited Dupont among the dozens of young people who bring a take-charge attitude to the youth empowerment group that serves events 700 to 800 Southern Berkshire 14 to 25-year-olds every year.

In particular, Timpane cited the work of the 16-member Youth Operational Board that raises $3,000 of it’s annual $10,000 budget.

“They will do dances, dodgeball, projects and other activities that engage youth,” she said.

Sunday’s block party also doubled as a 15th anniversary celebration for a nonprofit that originated on Railroad Street, relocating nearly seven years ago to the Schneider Youth Building on Bridge Street.

About 100 youth and adults mingled, played games and enjoyed a pig roast prepared by Zee Vassos, chef at The Kitchen on the Commons in Lenox.

Awards and pig roast aside, the gathering was sort of an open house for the community, according to Timpane.

Read the rest here!


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Fermentation in South County

20150324__p_EAG-L-FOOD-FERMENT~1_500Michelle Kaplan, one of our constituents and a fierce advocate for food justice, was written about in The Berkshire Eagle this week!
Michelle has hosted many workshops at Railroad Street Youth Project over the years, teaching Berkshire youth how to ferment vegetables and make sustainable, healthy food choices.
Read the article here and check our events page and our Facebook for upcoming workshops!

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Kiana Estime at “A Celebration of W.E.B. Du Bois in His Own Words”

Du-Bois-Readings-Drew-1024x986Kiana Estime, one of our constituents, attended “A Celebration of W.E.B. Du Bois in His Own Words”  at the library on Feb. 28, a week after what would have been the Great Barrington native’s 147th birthday, sponsored by The W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site, the Great Barrington Historical Society and the Mason Library. 
There, Kiana read a piece of Du Bois’ from the introduction to Darkwater: Voices from within the Veil called “Credo”.
Read more about the event here.

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RSYP Receives Grant from Mass Bankers Association Charitable Fund

mass bankers assocBOSTON, Dec. 8, 2014 – Railroad Street Youth Project, a non-profit organization in Berkshire County with programming for youth ages 14-25, was the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Mass Bankers Association Charitable Foundation this past December. The foundation, supported by the 170 member banks of the MBA throughout Massachusetts and New England, distributed the grants over eight geographic regions in Massachusetts, giving awards to deserving social service agencies.

The grant will help fund RSYP programs including the Drop-in Center, Youth Operational Board, Railroad Street Apprenticeship Programs, Jobs and Careers Initiative, Mentoring Program, Sexual Health Education Initiative, and Counseling and Advocacy Services. These programs serve youth in South County, meeting a need not otherwise met in this rural community.

“RSYP has earned the respect and support of the community,” said Rich Aldrich of Salisbury Bank in Great Barrington, who nominated the organization for this award, “For more than a decade it has had a proven track record of providing youth with resources to transform their lives – and they’ve been doing it with a very modest budget.”

“There are so many organizations with tremendous needs,” said James C. Lively, chairman of the MBA Charitable Foundation and president and CEO of Bridgewater Savings Bank, Raynham.  “We are very fortunate to be able to help with these gifts to deserving organizations across the Commonwealth.”

“We are deeply grateful for the support of Salisbury Bank and the Mass Bankers Association Charitable Foundation.” said Ananda Timpane, Executive Director of RSYP, “It is a wonderful investment in our community and youth.”

About Railroad Street Youth Project

At Railroad Street, youth take the lead. They explore their full potential and become equipped to meet the challenging transition to adulthood. RSYP’s professional adult staff expertly pairs youth-generated ideas with community resources, empowering youth to create and oversee a wide range of innovative, life-changing projects. Unmatched in mission and scope, RSYP excels in helping youth find their voice and realize the benefits of their commitment to themselves and their community. RSYP serves 14-25 year old residents of Southern Berkshire County and the surrounding area with mentoring and apprenticeship programs, a sexual health education initiative, an all-youth board that funds innovative, youth-inspired projects and trips, job training and career counseling, and a drop-in center offering referrals, counseling, mediation, and advocacy services. Railroad Street Youth Project’s drop-in center is located at 60 Bridge St., Great Barrington, MA.

Read more about the grant, including a full list of award recipients here.

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