Bernard Anoh has a range of technical skills. He designs websites for clients. On weekends he works weddings as a videographer. But BCArc owns his heart, he said, where he has worked for the past 12 years as a manager of a house serving people with developmental disabilities.
“The people here are my family,” he said. “That’s why I stay all these years. I love the folks here, and they love me.”
He didn’t like it here at first, when his father moved him from Africa’s Ivory Coast to Washington, D.C. “It wasn’t very safe in D.C. at the time,” he said. “So he brought me to live in Pittsfield with his friend. I did a lot of searching and crying then. I was dropped into 11th grade at Pittsfield High School, and English was my third language, so it was a difficult time for me.”
He called his father frequently, blaming him for leaving him there. But his father insisted a good education was important.
“When I left human services, I lost a connection with the people. I felt that loss. That’s why I came back.”
Being a soccer star for the high school team and for Berkshire Community College made life a little more agreeable. After graduating from a tech school in Albany, he took an IT job in Pittsfield designing websites. Through most of these years he worked in a variety of human services jobs, a career he still cannot shake.
“Working in human services is hard, it can be stressful, people you care about pass away,” he said. “But these are people who touch you in the heart. When I left human services, I lost a connection with the people. I felt that lost. That’s why I came back.”
Bernard enjoys management – particularly the training and teaching. “I’m a people’s people. I like to help my staff gain confidence at the job. I have watched so many of my staff get promoted. I don’t like to lose them, but it feels good to watch them grow.”
Today, with a son at BCC, Bernard relishes the fresh air and open space, the mountains and the skiing, the slower pace from a city. He didn’t like the quiet of the country when he first arrived, but after 27 years he has learned to appreciate the lifestyle of Western Mass.
“I feel like this is the kind of place you can stay and retire.”