|Four People (and One Dog) Recognized for Community Contributions|
|By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff |
06:32AM / Saturday, April 01, 2023
|Shane Winters, Darren and Heather Derby, Kamlyn Hass and Officer Winston were presented with awards by the Berkshire Area Citizens Advisory Board on Wednesday.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Four individuals were recognized on Wednesday night for the contributions they have made to the community, particularly how they have affected the lives of children and adults with different abilities and their families.
The presentations were made by the Berkshire office of the state Department of Developmental Services at the Berkshire Athenaeum.
Pittsfield Police Officer Darren Derby, Heather Derby and Pittsfield comfort dog Officer Winston were presented the William Johnson Unsung Hero Award.
The award was developed by the Berkshire Area Citizen Advisory Board, in partnership with the DDS, to recognize volunteers who have improved the quality of life for people in the area.
The couple were nominated for their volunteer efforts including Operation Copsicle, the Law Enforcement Torch Run, fundraising, and more. Officer Winston, a poodle, has been accompanying Derby in his community outreach efforts.
"This is our lives. We live this day in and day out. We've been volunteering in the community for well since 1995 when we first met for a Special Olympics event at Eastover," Darren Derby said.
"For them to publicly acknowledge the work that we've been doing is very heart-warming because we've known this family for years and they know what it takes to make the time outside of work in your personal life, to help set a positive effect on those that we actually deal with on a daily basis."
Mount Greylock Regional School paraprofessional Kamlyn Hass was presented the Reach for the Stars Award.
The award was developed in honor of the contributions Leslie Rudolph Garlow made to support children with developmental disabilities in the Berkshires.
The work Hass has done with her students makes her a perfect recipient for the Reach for the Stars Award, said Donna Narey.
Her commitment to her students, compassion, kindness and caring demeanor provides parents the assurance that their loved once is in good hands, she said.
Narey nominated Hass because of the support she has given her and her son, Cole, both in and out of school.
Cole has Down syndrome and autism and can sometimes be aggressive and difficult to communicate with, Narey said, but Hass understands him on a level most people do not and makes every interaction a positive one.
"Her patience and intuitiveness in working with Cole is not something that can be taught. She is a natural when it comes to working with people with disabilities," she said.
"I have always found it very difficult to leave Cole with caregivers other than his immediate family but finding Kamlyn has been a godsend. Her connection and love for Cole makes it easy for me to leave him in her care knowing that she will always take care of him. As any parent of a child with disabilities knows this is huge and life changing for the family."
Hass works as a paraprofessional in Cole's classroom, is an assistant coach for the unified basketball team at Mount Greylock, and is Cole's personal care, attendant several hours per week outside of school.
"I really just love the smile on the person that I work with's face. I don't do it for any gains personally. I really just love to see them happy," Hass said.
Hass is becoming a behavioral analyst so she can continue to work with individuals with autism and those who have disabilities.
The advisory board presented Shane Winters with the Dream Award. The Dream Fund has provided former recipients opportunities to see one of their dreams come true.
Winters is ambitious, hard-working and determined and has been a shining light at United Cerebral Palsy of Western Massachusetts since he started in 2021, Kaylee Persico said. He has developed close relationships with his staff and continues to grow.
"Shane's creativity shines through whenever he is indulged and working on a project. Shane is talented in many areas, but one of his special interests and talents is mechanics," she said.
"If you name something with a motor, Shane can probably build it for you. Shane has crafted several trains and vehicles out of a variety of materials such as plastic, metal and Legos."
This year the fund will allow Winters to attend the Lego exposition in Springfield to collaborate with other Lego artists and participate in interactive games.