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Pittsfield Woman Named In Commonwealth Heroine Class Of 2021

A white woman with long hair stands at a lectern in front of rows of mostly empty seats
Kelly Marion.

A Pittsfield, Massachusetts woman has been recognized by the state for her work with youth and families. 

Accolades were presented at the latest city council meeting last week.

“Kelly Marion has been named by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as one of their Commonwealth Heroines for their class of 2021,” said Mayor Linda Tyer. “Kelly is the CEO of the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, a multi-service organization, empowering children with a special emphasis on girls. The Center serves a wide diversity of the community with an equally diverse staff who feel supported to contribute to the organization and to grow personally and professionally. And outside her agency, Kelly is seen as a strong community leader who knows the needs of youth and families.”

During the COVID-19 state of emergency, Marion and her team provided emergency childcare to essential workers and supported school-age children with technology and instructional assistance.

“As we honor Kelly, we honor her whole team, as she asked us to do, and all childcare providers,” continued Tyer. “It is high quality, affordable childcare that is the key to building a strong community. And whereas unsung heroines are women who don't always make the news, but are those that truly make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others, positively impacting their neighborhoods, their towns and their cities. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who serve without expectation of recognition or gratitude- But not tonight, we’re recognizing you. These women are the glue that binds a community together. Pittsfield is grateful for Kelly's selfless service and proud to have her as a part of our community.”

Marion was recommended for the recognition by Democratic 3rd Berkshire District State Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who said it was part of her broader efforts to shine a light on early educators.

“You didn't really hear about the people who were taking care of our children so that others could go to work and do the essential work, who were taking care of our most vulnerable children, children in DCF, our children with special needs, who needed each day, to go somewhere and be cared for,” said Farley-Bouvier. “But Kelly and her team did it, as did other people across the city, other centers. But to me when I looked and saw who could we pick, it was Kelly out of all of those because truly, she's been a hero to us for many years for all the work that you have done. Not only in this industry, but in your leadership in rotary, right? And being a person that other people in the industry can go to for advice and mentorship. I'm so grateful to you, Kelly, as is this entire community.”

Marion has spent 32 years with the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center. She said when it first closed due to the pandemic, she was worried about how it could still offer services to families in need.

“I put out a call,” said Marion. “I had 49 staff, and said, we can open for emergency care, who wants to help do this. 21 said, I'm in. I'm in, I'm in. I didn't tell them I’d pay them a little extra. Nothing. They just said they'd be there. The others were home caring for their own families because they didn't have childcare or they didn't have a school to send their kids to at that point. And I think as a community, we deserve a lot of credit for what we've all done. Our city, our schools, our employers who helped employees be able to manage to work from home, or if they had to come in, to be able to work hours so they could provide for their kids. I think it's something everyone should be proud of. This recognition is wonderful, but it's really about a community, not just about one person. Thank you.”

Marion’s commendations from the state and city were officially recognized at the meeting.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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