Greenfield woman recognized as ‘a driving force’ in supporting refugees

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JAMES BARTLETT Pamela Adams, left, of Greenfield, receives a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine award for her service to immigrants and refugees in Greenfield.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JAMES BARTLETT Pamela Adams, left, of Greenfield, receives a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine award for her service to immigrants and refugees in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JAMES BARTLETT Pamela Adams, left, of Greenfield, receives a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine award for her service to immigrants and refugees in Greenfield.

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-14-2024 5:18 PM

BOSTON — Director of Bakery Operations and Executive Pastry Chef for UMass Dining Pamela Adams received a Commonwealth Heroine award from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women for her role feeding and finding employment for dozens of refugees and immigrants in Greenfield.

“Pamela has helped to build a welcoming community for immigrants who fled their countries of birth in search of a better future for themselves and their families,” state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield, said in a statement. “In fostering connections with local non-profit organizations and employers, she has assisted many in getting one step closer to this dream.”

Adams was one of 125 Commonwealth Heroines to be honored in the State House’s Gardner Room on Friday.

Each year, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and local legislators nominate award recipients who have made outstanding contributions to their organizations and communities through acts of service. Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, and Blais nominated Adams.

Having prepared and donated countless meals for migrants being housed in Greenfield and assisted more than 25 immigrants and refugees with securing jobs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Adams said her work was always done out of love, never for recognition.

“I honestly don’t feel like I’m the hero. The work that I do is not for recognition. The work that I do is purely from my heart,” Adams said. “The work I do is simply paying it forward.”

Adams’ parents, who served as missionaries, brought her to Haiti when she was only 6 months old. She said she was raised in Haiti, going back to the U.S. from time to time, until she was 16 years old. She later returned to Haiti to open a bakery and take care of family friends.

When Adams heard that Haitian migrants were being housed in her Greenfield neighborhood, she wanted to help in any way she could.

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“There was a young family with a new baby that said the baby was sick and they needed to go to the hospital, so I got in my car and drove over there,” Adams said. “That’s how I started getting involved.”

Realizing the difficulty of adjusting one’s diet to the cuisine of a new culture, Adams partnered with her friend, Stone Soup Cafe Executive Director and Chef Kirsten Levitt, to prepare Haitian meals each Sunday. The scale of Adams’ operation grew as volunteers from Blessed Trinity Parish and Mesa Verde owner Amy McMahan joined the effort.

McMahan later suggested hosting Haitian food pop-ups each Sunday at Mesa Verde. When Comerford walked into one of the pop-ups, Adams asked the senator for her help setting the immigrants up with jobs at UMass Amherst.

“It helps the Haitian get a job, a secure foothold in life here, but it also helps our community as well. We’ve had a lot of vacancies, and it’s been really tough having a lot of positions that need to be filled,” Adams said. “We have jobs that need to be filled, and there aren’t a lot of people around to do the jobs. So if I can bring people to work, it’s a win-win for the community and the people.”

In the future, Adams said she hopes to work with legislators and local officials to help Greenfield’s immigrants secure housing.

“I am proud to partner with Rep. Natalie Blais to recognize Pamela’s extraordinary work with the Haitian community in the Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester District,” Comerford said in a statement. “Pamela is a driving force, calling us to uplift and support immigrants from all nations through education and employment. Thank you to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women for celebrating Pamela as a 2024 Commonwealth Heroine.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com.