County Fare: Ninety Nine donates $9,948 to Boys & Girls Club

The Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires has received a $9,948 donation from the Pittsfield Ninety Nine Restaurant as part of the restaurant chain's annual October fundraising efforts to support local Boys & Girls Clubs.

The amount raised by the Pittsfield Ninety Nine, located at 699 Merrill Road, was the eighth highest donation recorded across the 106 participating Ninety Nine stores.

"Our restaurant is very enthusiastic about Boys & Girls Club Month at the Pittsfield Ninety Nine," said Pittsfield Ninety Nine Manager Dan Flynn. "The staff contributes by committing to ask each and every guest to help us support our Boys & Girls Club. They put together gift baskets and bring in homemade baked goods to raffle off and sell. We offered three special entrees that automatically contribute $1 to the cause every time that item is ordered. In addition, we have one night, our `Dine for a Cause Night,' when 15 percent of every order is donated to the club. It is a total team effort from the general manager, the kitchen manager, the assistant manager and our staff - everybody contributes."

Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires Executive Director Chris Jacoby said the club is grateful to be the beneficiary of the promotion, which also includes the display of posters and photos of club members and activities.

"We are impressed every year at their enthusiasm and spirit to raise the most they can for us. It's great fun for all and their food is really delicious," said Jacoby. "Our members even work with Ninety Nine staff a few nights, shadowing them as they work the tables, it's a great experience for the kids."

He said the club will use the donation to continue to support the many programs and services it conducts for young people throughout Berkshire County.

Need a dictionary? Look them up

As part of the worldwide literacy initiative of Rotary International, the Rotary Club of Pittsfield donated in December, for its 13th year, high-quality, hardcover copies of the Macmillan Dictionary for Children published by Simon & Schuster, to every third-grade student in Pittsfield and Richmond. The reference book retails for $19.99.

Prior to the holiday break, Rotary members visited the following schools to meet with students and give them each a dictionary to take home: Richmond Consolidated School; Allendale, Capeless, Crosby, Egremont, Stearns and Williams elementary, and Conte and Morningside community schools.

In October, the Rotary Club of Pittsfield Dictionary Distribution Project ordered 472 dictionaries at a cost of more than $4,000, through a buying consortium of Rotary Clubs in California. The consortium as a whole this year purchased approximately 44,000 dictionaries.

Over the past 13 years, the local club has distributed 6,467 dictionaries in Pittsfield and Richmond, including two "talking dictionaries" for visually impaired students at $500 each. Prior to distribution, volunteers process each dictionary with a bookplate and cover letter to the parents that explains why their children are receiving these gifts.

Since the start of the program, the Rotary Club of Pittsfield Foundation has been building an endowment with the goal of making this project self-sustaining. According to organizers, through fundraising and charitable golf tournaments, the endowment has grown to the point where it is almost able to fund in perpetuity the dictionary distribution, or other meaningful literacy projects should it be determined that dictionaries are no longer useful tools for third grade students.

Ron Latham, who has chaired this initiative for Rotary Club, noted how anecdotally, graduating high school seniors have remarked about remembering Rotarians visiting their third-grade classrooms for the annual dictionary distribution, and how the reference continued to be a resource through high school.

Improving literacy rates is once again this year a primary goal of Rotary International. According to Joan DiMartino, president of the Rotary Club of Pittsfield, "Even with all of our technological advances, the ability to read and write is still fundamental to success in the 21st century."

"The positive comments we get from students, teachers, and school administration make us so pleased and proud that Rotary Club has been able to have such a meaningful impact on literacy in our community," Latham said.

New leaders wanted

Local leaders have announced the establishment of a Daisy Girl Scout troop for girls currently in kindergarten. The first meeting will be held from 5 to 6 p.m., this Thursday, in the New Ashford Town Hall, and will continue to meet at the same time on Thursdays twice a month. For more information or to register, email or


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