The Rural We: Noel Henebury
Noel and pup with Nolan Pratt and Jayme McGuigan of the Downtown Pittsfield Inc. Ambassadors.
She isn’t even a Berkshire native, but Noel Henebury is possibly the most ardent cheerleader for Pittsfield and especially North Street. As a theater management professional from Fairhaven, Mass., she’s always moved to where the jobs took her — New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Nashville, Dallas, Philadelphia, etc. — but no other town has captured her imagination and devotion the way Pittsfield has. After a stint at Barrington Stage Company, she became sales manager for Hotel on North, where she was responsible for creating programs in which both locals and hotel patrons could participate. Now Henebury is transitioning to a new position as customer service manager at Blue Q, everyone’s favorite fun company that’s located in — of course — Pittsfield.
I came here in 2013 because I accepted a job at Barrington Stage, a theater I’d heard about way back when I was an intern. I remember thinking I’d never heard of Pittsfield, but I always had Barrington Stage on my radar. They had an opening for company manager. I was there for about three years, moving from company manager to assistant to the managing director.
Taking care of people and making them happy is what I want to do, so after three years at Barrington Stage I took the communications coordinator/HR position at Hotel on North. Three months later I became the sales manager. It was so much fun. As soon as you walk into the hotel, you feel so comfortable. Everyone feels like they belong there.
At that point I realized I didn’t want to leave Pittsfield. I loved it and felt useful, that I could be a part of something and I could contribute to it, planning holiday parties, corporate events and weddings. My job was to create jobs and experiences and use whatever I could to do it. Main Street Hospitality Group [who manages the hotel] and the Tierneys [Hotel on North owners] encouraged me to come up with other ideas.
The key thing was to connect with the locals as well as share with our neighbors on North Street. So we started Crafts on North with Nathan Hanford of Township Four, a florist/antiques shop on North Street. We put out an open invitation for people to come to the hotel, maybe create something, just be together. We started Run on North in collaboration with the Berkshire Running Center and Storytime on North with the girls from the Gladys Allen Brigham Center. Out of all of that I made some of my best friends.
We also initiated a partnership with the Berkshire Humane Society. I selfishly wanted to pet dogs, so I pitched the idea of Dogs on North. The idea was to bring adoptable dogs to North Street, just walk around with the dog and post a lot of pictures. As people were petting dogs, we’d have conversations about what’s happening downtown and at the hotel. It gives people a little break in their day. Berkshire Bank became a corporate partner, and now their employees walk around with the dogs. Then we started Kittens and Cocktails with cats from the [former] Sonsini shelter. All the kittens would be adopted within 48 hours.
Working at the hotel was such a rush, but I wanted to figure out a way to have more time to volunteer with the community. I’ve been a fan of Blue Q for a long time — they’re a company with products that just make you happy, something I’ve identified with my whole life. Last May I took a train from Piitsfield to San Francisco — which was amazing, to be able to walk from my apartment to the take the train all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I took more pictures of Blue Q’s product displays in San Francisco than I did of the city. To watch other people interact with their products, laugh and giggle, and know they came out of Pittsfield was just the most amazing thing.
I like to figure out a reason to celebrate. I’ve lived in a lot of places and know there’s a lot to celebrate in the Berkshires. I want to be a conduit to that.
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