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Westfield State Interfaith breakfast to celebrate dialogue, community pantry

Westfield State Interfaith breakfast to celebrate dialogue, community pantry

Special guest Dr. Elizabeth Preston

WESTFIELD, Mass., March 31, 2016- In celebration of the work of the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center of Westfield State University, the Westfield State Foundation will hold the 27th Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Breakfast on Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 a.m. in Scanlon Banquet Hall.

A fundraiser for the Center, this year’s event will feature speaker, Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, rabbi at Temple Israel in Greenfield, Mass. and trainer/facilitator for The Compassionate Listening Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals and communities to resolve conflict and strengthen cultures of peace.   Author of “Claiming Earth as Common Ground: the Ecological Crisis through the Lens of Faith,” Rabbi Cohen-Kiener will discuss the importance of interfaith dialogue.

“Dr. Cohen-Kiener’s three-decade career as a rabbi, community organizer, and educator has informed her perspective and during challenging times such as these, her message is so important for people of all faiths,” said Michael Knapik, executive director of the Westfield State Foundation.

The breakfast will also spotlight the opening of Common Goods, a food pantry serving university students, faculty, and staff who may be experiencing food insecurity and other challenges.

Housed at the Second Congregational Church on Western Avenue in Westfield, Common Goods is a collaborative effort initiated by the university’s Chaplains’ Council, the Trio Student Support Services Program, and a campus group called Fostering Student Success, each of whom acted in response to President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge to address hunger.

“Common Goods, represents the many initiatives that the Center has fostered, since it was established 36 years ago by the Foundation,” said Jim Huffmire, Foundation board member and chair of this year’s breakfast. “We invite breakfast attendees to consider bringing a food donation to the event to help provide stock for this noble project.”

Dr. Elizabeth Preston, former Interim President of the university, will also be honored during the breakfast.

“Dr. Preston’s endorsement of President Obama’s challenge led to the creation of the Common Goods pantry and her support of the Foundation Board of Directors and  the Interfaith Center made last year’s complete renovation of the facility possible,” Knapik said.

To order tickets to the event and for more information on the Interfaith Breakfast, visit or call Joanne Leighton at 485-7470. Tickets are $20 per person.