Live United: Volunteers help to better our community

As published in The Berkshire Eagle

April is National Volunteer Month—an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteer service and the power of volunteers to build a stronger community and help transform the world.

Every year hundreds of individuals, with various abilities, give freely of their time and talent as volunteers with Berkshire United Way; last year 618 volunteers put in more than 4,300 hours. Dedicated folks from throughout the county commit their time to better our community. They make sure our book houses are adequately stocked, serve on our board of directors and committees, participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, assist with events, gather and distribute classroom supplies to schools and organize more than 150 workplace campaigns, which enable us to raise funds to invest in local programs.

Volunteers help us make tough decisions, like how to allocate limited resources to partners requesting more funding than is available. They fight for things that are important to our community, like quality early education that prepares our youngest residents for school.

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others, it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or advocate for something they are passionate about. 

Long-term volunteer, Douglas McNally, Berkshire United Way board member and retired principal of Taconic High School says, “As a career educator, the Berkshire United Way’s focus on economic stability for families, college and career readiness for Berkshire youth and kindergarten readiness for our youngest residents age resonates with my desire to provide a rich learning environment for all children. I find it exhilarating to work with partnering organizations and volunteers to help families prosper while we provide a stimulating environment in which we grow our future workforce.”

Each year, we shine a light on the people who volunteer, thanking those who make a difference in our community. Please join us for this year’s annual LIVE UNITED Community Celebration at The Proprietor’s Lodge, on Thursday, April 25 from 4-6 p.m. 

The Robert K. Agar, Jr award is given annually to a volunteer whose personal commitment and dedication to volunteerism is truly exemplary. This year’s recipient is Cindy Shogry-Raimer, vice president, director of community development at Greylock Federal Credit Union. Shogry-Raimer has given hundreds of volunteer hours to Berkshire United Way and other organizations, making a measurable impact on our community.

“Volunteering in my community has always been an integral part of my life because it connects you to your community on a deeply personal level and makes you realize that your actions do have an impact on those around you. I love how Berkshire United Way donations stay in our community, funding the amazing organizations that work tirelessly serving my friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. I know that I cannot change the world, but if I help one person, I have changed their world and that is pure joy,” says Shogry-Raimer.                                                    

Berkshire United Way will also honor community volunteer, Arthur Milano, with the Daniel C. Dillon Helping Hands, Caring Heart award. This award, first presented in 1999, and renamed in 2005 in recognition of Dan Dillon’s numerous years of service to Berkshire United Way, recognizes an unsung hero who makes our community a better place through volunteer efforts.

An unknown author once said, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day for the kind of community you want to live in.”

We have plenty of opportunities for you to help create the kind of community you want to live in. To learn more, please give us a call at 413.442.6948, email us at or visit and we will help you find the opportunity that is just right for you.