Tribute from Christy Daignault, BRIDGE Vice Chair and Development Co-Chair
"Prior to this event I was not familiar with Berkshire Business and Professional Women and looked it up to better acquaint myself. BBPW has been honoring a local woman with the Woman of Achievement award since 1965 which is Based on considerable career accomplishments and outstanding commitment to the community. Their MISSION : is To promote full participation, equity, and economic self-sufficiency for America's working women.
Three major issues that Berkshire Business and Professional Women have identified and commit to working on:
One of the founders of this organization is Dr. Lena Madesin Phillips who said “you are now pioneers in the dream of peace and social justice, of international understanding and goodwill. This dream will come to pass. It matters little whether you or I live to see the day. It is only important that each of us struggle without pause towards that day.
I know many women of color in this area that I see stand for these same principals, that I see fight and advocate all in different ways, bringing different and much needed strengths to the table. So I just want to again bring attention to the fact that in 54 years of this award being given out Gwendolyn is the first women of color to receive it and she very much deserves it! She is a driving force that is moving forward in countless ways to promote a more inclusive, and safe environment helping to shift the narrative and center the voices of those often left out of the equation. I realize I only see a tiny portion of the work that Gwendolyn does day in and day out forging new paths. I want to leave us today with a quote by Carol Snow who is of Seneca heritage.
“There are those of us who insist on finding our own paths. We use those things that speak to us to mark our trails: the stars; the winds; the sound of a beloved voice; the calling of our hearts. We become the ones who lay down signs for guidance by the tracks we leave. Those of us who go before all others are the pathfinders, and sometimes the path makers. There must always be a first step taken.
Thank you to all women who are the ones to take the first step. Thank you Gwendolynn for helping to forge new paths, congratulations!"
tRIBUTE FROM John Bissell, President & Chief Executive Officer of Greylock Federal Credit Union
"Our partnership with Multicultural BRIDGE dates back 10 years. During the past 3 years, we have kept Gwendolyn very busy with equity and inclusion work inside of our organization. BRIDGE provides training for all of our employees and for our Board, and Gwendolyn provides coaching for me personally... She believes that our community is stronger when the doors of opportunity are open to everyone regardless of income, race, religion, culture, gender identity or physical ability. Please understand, I mean, not when someone SAYS the doors of opportunity are open, but when the doors are ACTUALLY open, and inviting, and ready to accept EVERYONE, from EVERY neighborhood. THEN we are stronger, and then we will be more successful in our community. She knows that to achieve this, we must think and work, strategically and collaboratively, at the systems level. Financial systems, public funding systems, transportation systems, education systems – They were all designed by people who look like me. And left in their current state of play, those systems continue to operate for the benefit of people like me. To change the outcomes, to include all people in our vision, we must change the systems. And that means we must change the hearts and minds of the people controlling the systems. This is the work to which Gwendolyn has dedicated her career, and indeed, her entire life. Make no mistake, she is deeply devoted to her family. But it seems that every other waking hour is spent in pursuit of social and economic justice....Whether working in a room with 12 banking executives, or an auditorium full of middle school students, she creates space for honest dialogue, for growth, for healing... I am grateful that thanks to our partnership with Gwendolyn and BRIDGE and so many others, Greylock is becoming a more inclusive organization. We may not be able to transform the entire US financial system – not yet! – but working together, in partnership with BRIDGE, we can have much greater impact right here at home."
Thank you so much for making this a memorable year for us—for protecting and stewarding the courage and heart of BRIDGE. That was YOUR work!
2018 marked our 10th anniversary as an organization—wow! With your help, we shared and
celebrated the collective positive impact that we’ve made, here in the Berkshires and across the country. We are so grateful for our resilient connections with you, our BRIDGE community.
My work as a family physician over the past few decades, has highlighted for me the reality of health disparities for these groups of people. We know that people of color in the United States have far worse health care outcomes than their white counterparts: higher rates of preterm labor and infant mortality, worse access to health care, higher rates of death for similar disease processes (such as cancer, asthma, heart disease, HIV and diabetes) and the list goes on. So, I ask myself, as I am sure many of you do, what can I do to be part of the solution and not simply another part of the problem? A central part of the answer for me has been to join the already incredible work of Multicultural BRIDGE right here in our community.
BRIDGE is closing out its tenth year of celebration and celebrating the fruition, as a co-founder, of a vision of what our community needed. In one way it was to close the gaps of services for new immigrants and very specifically value women and women of color’s labor, contribution and value to our community. But in a larger way it was to foster a sense of humanity, justice and interconnectedness.
“To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living Alaska and being against snow.” William Faulkner
I was introduced to Multicultural Bridge by Natalie Shiras, my classmate from College who was the Pastor of Church on the Hill in Lenox MA. At first I was incredulous that there was racial discrimination in the Berkshires, but I was told otherwise. As an immigrant who has been bullied both in France and in the US, I feel it is important to protect the rights of all people, regardless of the color of their skin, or their origin. I am proud of the work of Gwendolyn and congratulate her and Multicultural Bridge on their 10th Anniversary. Yeou-Cheng Ma
To you, Gwendolyn, and the committees, I send good wishes for a GREAT event which I think will be wonderful for all. I trust it will reward your good work in bringing Multicultural Bridge to is tenth year. I lectured in Japan recently and spoke reverently of W.E.B. Du Bois and your community work.
June 18, 2018