Quinquennial Gala Marks BRIDGE’s Journey of Catalyst, Love & Impact
GREAT BARRINGTON, MA – October 4, 2022 – BRIDGE (Berkshire Resources for Integration of Diverse Groups and Education), a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to advancing equity and justice by promoting accountability and working toward positive social change, celebrates its 15th anniversary.
On October 8th, BRIDGE will mark this milestone with a celebratory gala from 2pm to 6pm ET, to be held at the historic Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts—site of the Underground Railroad. The gala will host a blend of local artists, activists and world-renowned presenters and performers to celebrate the essence of the organization’s vision and its reach in our local and broader communities.
The afternoon will include MacArthur Fellows Dr. Saidiya Hartman and Okwui Okpokwasili with vocalist performer Imani Uzuri for a unique presentation of Hartman’s powerful, timely and timeless “Litany for Grieving Sisters.”
“For grieving sisters, what other choice is there? For them, love is not yet exhausted... It is a story that blossoms in the black morning,” writes Dr. Hartman in “Litany for Grieving Sisters.”
Local filmmakers from OnPoint Design, TJ and Otis West, will share a short film showcasing a snapshot of BRIDGE’s many voices and personal reflections; local dancers United Latinos of the Berkshires and Women to Women presenters will present folkloric dances in the spirit of the traditional ritual of 15 year “quince anos” milestone; and Operation Unite NY will present a dance performance and offer interactive drumming and dance to close out the celebration. Ghanaian musician Star Nii will also perform.
As BRIDGE honors the legacy of our civil rights leaders, BRIDGE will be joined by descendants of Harriet Tubman and Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois. “Gwendolyn and BRIDGE have been instrumental in celebrating my great grandfather Dr. Du Bois’ legacy over the last 7 years (and before) so much so that my mother, Dr. Du Bois Williams, requested her burial plans shift to returning to the Great Barrington gravesite with our Du Bois family. In her last months, she was moved and finally convinced of the earnest effort of Great Barrington to honor her grandfathers’ legacy and repair the relationship. I could think of no one in the world but Gwendolyn and BRIDGE to welcome my mother home,” shares Jeff Peck, great grandson of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.
The guests will be invited to celebrate in dance and to testify to the impact of the organization throughout the afternoon.
“BRIDGE serves as the culturally appropriate hub for accessing support, education, and equity for all. The needs of Berkshire County have been identified through lectures, training, and authentic conversations,” said Luci Leonard, Community Health Worker and Licensed Practical Nurse. “The takeaway each time demonstrates how much is needed to help the local community and how BRIDGE serves as a model for a community-based effort for others nationally.”
Finally, BRIDGE CEO and Founding Director Gwendolyn VanSant will share remarks on the theme, “Catalyst. Love. Impact: “What’s Your BRIDGE Story?” to inspire and engage support for BRIDGE’s unique Berkshire-based solidarity economy and culturally-specific wellness programs, envisioned by BRIDGE’s founder and team for the organization’s next 15 year chapter.
“BRIDGE is gathering for our third gala ever to inspire and express gratitude to our ever-expanding community of supporters, activists, and participants. Committed to safety, trust and equity, BRIDGE has focused on how building relationships and connections and disrupting systemic inequities can improve overall community health and transform lived experiences for vulnerable populations in communities and workplaces,” says VanSant. “Knowing a community can only be as strong and resilient as its weakest parts, our work has been deeply rooted in gender and racial justice focusing on anti-poverty and community health. Proceeds from this gala will support our wellness center, the Solidarity Meeting House and community farm and garden and transitional housing for diverse communities. BRIDGE’s vision is a culture and economy that values collective humanity as our primary currency. ”
Over the last 15 years, BRIDGE has been recognized as a best practice by law enforcement, public health, education and most recently in culturally specific victim services. The organization has consistently been acknowledged with awards and recognitions in business, anti-poverty, race equity, non-profit impact, women's leadership, public health, and peace work on local, national, and international levels.
Rooted in historical legacy as a primary source for its movement building, BRIDGE is, at its core, a grassroots organization, dedicated to advancing equity and justice by promoting activism, cultural awareness, positive psychology, and mutual understanding and acceptance. The quinquennial event on the theme of “Catalyst, Love and Impact” will highlight milestones in BRIDGE’s history, including the launch of its critical Berkshire-based such as Towards Racial Justice and Equity campaign, which was est. 2010 with Dept of Justice Community Relations Service Division; Race Task Force; Women to Women and finally Happiness Toolbox and Youth Corps program supporting the next generation of local leaders in resilience and social and climate justice efforts.
“When Greylock first started our IDEA journey a few years ago, BRIDGE was right there to guide us through this ongoing voyage of discovery and growth. Through Gwendolyn’s impeccable leadership, we charted a course that often took us out of our comfort zones so that we could better hear and learn from one another. Today, I’m proud to share that our credit union reflects this invaluable investment and remains deeply committed to continuing this work. On behalf of Greylock, and personally, I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to Gwendolyn and the entire team at BRIDGE for their unwavering dedication to making our communities better for us all,” said JamieEllen Moncecchi, SVP/CAO at Greylock Federal Credit Union.
Today, BRIDGE stands strong as a nationally recognized nonprofit that has transformed the Berkshires—working with area businesses on cultural competence and inclusive leadership guidance and training; catalyzing and spearheading initiatives and campaigns like the Pay Equity work of the Inclusive Leadership Cohort; and stewarding and buoying the W.E.B. Du Bois legacy work in the community alongside the Town of Great Barrington. BRIDGE has produced the 2014 Civil Rights Conference with former US Attorney Carmen Diaz; the educational forums at the MCLA conference with guest Nikki Giovanni and the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond; and the Central Berkshire School District with Dr. Beverly Tatum. As a part of the groundbreaking “New Pathways'' talks in 2021, BRIDGE brought together hundreds of national and local leaders and participants, facilitating community conversation to chart new possibilities for health, justice and equity in a “post-COVID” world. The conference culminated with renowned keynote speaker and activist Dr. Angela Davis. Most recently in summer of 2022, BRIDGE held dialogues following author Isabel Wilkerson's presentation and with scholar Saidiya Hartman at Tanglewood.
The quinquennial gala will bring together BRIDGE donors, staff, volunteers, constituents, and partners in celebrating 15 years of expanding equity and justice in the Berkshires and beyond. The event will feature local food vendors Once Upon A Table, Roses, Firehouse Bar and Grill, Momma Los, Beloved Kitchen, traditional dishes from Women to Women food vendors from 5 Central and Latin American countries, Burmese Bowl, House of Seasoning and more for a tasting of the cultures and culinary arts represented throughout our Berkshire county.
Special thanks to sponsors Berkshire Bank Foundation and Greylock Federal Credit Union for their early bird sponsorship along with several co-sponsoring businesses and families, as well as Jacob's Pillow for hosting the event on these historic grounds of the Underground Railroad. Other sponsors include BRIDGE donors, Feigenbaum Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, and many more. Honorary Board Members include Deval and Dianne Patrick, Mayor James Roberto and Michael Bobbitt.
Tickets are available at multiculturalbridge.org or call 413-394-4305.
Founded in 2007, BRIDGE is an award winning, nationally recognized grassroots organization dedicated to community health and advancing equity and justice by promoting cultural competence, positive psychology, and mutual understanding and acceptance. The organization acts as a catalyst for change through collaboration, education, training, dialogue, fellowship and advocacy with a race and gender equity and justice focus. Since 2011, BRIDGE has been a minority- and women-run non-profit certified by the Office of Supplier Diversity of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (SDP) and since 2021 a Culturally Specific Program (CSP) engaged for building capacity to repair harm from victimizations and support thriving in historically minoritized and marginalized groups. Services include training, education, language access services, mutual aid, and multicultural celebrations for awareness building. For more information about BRIDGE, please visit https://www.multiculturalbridge.org/
CEO and Founding Director, BRIDGE
PR and Media Contact