When I first mentioned Red Collaborative was heading to New Orleans to my friend, Derek Gentile (journalist for the Berkshire Eagle) he insisted that I talk to our State Representative, William “Smitty” Pignatelli right off the bat. Smitty, like Derek, shares a passion for baseball and doing the right thing.
Derek accompanied Smitty and a team of volunteers to New Orleans in to rebuild the home of Stanley & Betty Stewart in the Lower Ninth Ward – one of the hardest hit – and most neglected – areas ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2006. Click here to read the letter from Sen. Edward Kennedy published in The Congretional Record acknowledging Smitty’s dedication to helping rebuild New Orleans.
Smitty has made numerous trips to the crescent city and was instrumental in putting me in touch with several folks there, among them, another passionate baseball professional (and former Executive Vice President of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints), New Orleans City Council President, Arnie Fielkow.
In addition, Smitty gave me the names of a few local Berkshirites who have organized teams of volunteers to travel down to help rebuild the city. All these folks helped prepare us for an amazing trip to New Orleans.
Without this team of amazing players, our mission to bring Red Collaborative’s empowering initiatives to the devastated city might not have gotten off the ground. I am forever grateful for their assistance.