The 9 th Annual Gerard D. Downing Service to Children Award was presented to Natalie Cain, SSJ, of North Adams on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at a ceremony held at the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield.  Each year the Berkshire County Sexual Assault Intervention Network (SAIN) Team presents the Award in honor of the late Gerard D. Downing to an individual whose life exhibits a personal devotion to enhancing and enriching the lives of children in Berkshire County.

Gerard Downing's tragic, untimely death in December of 2003 left a void not only in our county but across the Commonwealth.  Gerry served as Berkshire District Attorney for 13 years.  Prior to his election Gerry served as an Assistant District Attorney for seven years.  He selflessly dedicated his legal career to public service, protecting the community in which he was raised.  He had an unwavering commitment to advancing the rights of victims, in particular those most vulnerable-children, seniors, and the disabled.  Gerry also had a passion for community service and served Berkshire County not only as its chief law enforcement official but also as a coach, role model, and mentor and had a lasting, positive effect on the lives of a great many children.

District Attorney David F. Capeless was joined by Senator Benjamin Downing in presenting the award on behalf of the Berkshire County Sexual Assault Intervention Network (SAIN) Team.

Natalie Cain has devoted her life to helping others as an educator, mentor, community organizer and spiritual leader.  After a decade teaching on the elementary school level, Natalie joined Northern Berkshire Community Coalition in 1993, where she served as a dedicated employee until her retirement in 2010.

 As a community organizer Natalie worked tirelessly to enrich and empower residents of northern Berkshire County.  She freely lent her time and talent to programs and initiatives which provided hope and support to those who were vulnerable.  While at the Coalition Natalie took on a leadership role in creating social and emotional learning opportunities for children and families including creating afterschool activities for at-risk children, organizing neighborhood camps, developing annual parenting groups and facilitating a monthly support group for foster care families.  

 One of Natalie’s greatest gifts was serving as a teacher and role model to her colleagues in the field of human services.  By freely sharing not just her passion for children but also her experiences and strategies for supporting children and strengthening families, she continues to have a lasting impact on our community.

Prior Award winners are: 2004, Robert Esposito; 2005, William A. McGovern; 2006, Matthew C. Stracuzzi; 2007, Cheryl Nolan-Wallah; 2008, Nancy J. Macauley; 2009, Teri Cooper; 2010, Erik Bruun; and 2011, Bonnie Morrison.