A look back at a year of helping Berkshire families

As appeared in the Berkshire Eagle

Do you want to make lasting changes in our community? As we approach 2019, it’s rewarding to look back and see the impact we made together this year.

Long-time south county homeowner, Ellen Rudley, drove by the Community Health Program (CHP) office in Great Barrington numerous times without noticing the building or more importantly, without knowing what happens inside.

That changed the day Rudley walked through the door of CHP; in fact, she was completely blown away. Rudley was there to see CHP’s Parent Child Home Program in action as a Berkshire United Way volunteer. As she witnessed the wonderful work they are doing, and benefit to young children and their families, she had an epiphany. While her gift to Berkshire United Way isn’t nearly enough to support this, or any other program, once her gift is added to those of other donors the impact is enormous!

“I was completely taken with the Parent Child Home Program and what they do,” says Rudley. “I am so happy to be a part of it, even a small part,” she added.

This impact is not lost on those who benefit. Alii, whose last name has been omitted to protect her privacy, was battling postpartum depression and was overwhelmed by the thought of parenting a baby and a toddler. She felt alone and isolated, yet the thought of leaving her home was daunting. When Alii learned there is a program that sends a mentor to your home to provide the help she needed, she was elated.

Over time, and with the support of her mentor, Alii became more confident and connected with her community. She was able to seek additional support from the Pediatric Development Center, which is also supported by Berkshire United Way, engage with other parents and enroll her daughter in pre-school. In short, Alii and her young family are now thriving. "The Parent Child Home Program helped me grow and flourish as a parent and as a result I am now a teacher to my child. Now I know that I have that ability, and that it's important for me to make time for that," she says.

We invest in a broad range of programs to meet the needs and interests of all—these are examples from just two of the 40 programs we currently support. Our commitment to donors is to do the research and invest your money where it is needed most. By working together, we help strengthen those programs and increase their reach.

Two of our grantees shared the following examples, “We have been creating our evaluation system largely in response to Berkshire United Way, and it is making for a stronger, more impactful program. The data collection tools created by them have helped us garner other funding,” expressed Alchemy Institute’s Roots Rising program staff.

Berkshire Nursing Families Lactation Support Program staff state, “Instead of just collecting data, we are really using data to look at what we are doing and seeing. We are better at evaluating our program.”

Together, with our donors, volunteers and funded programs, we helped more than 17,000 neighbors here in the Berkshires last year. Most of you probably know someone whose life has been touched, in some way, by one of the programs supported by Berkshire United Way. After reading this, we hope you will make a year-end gift. You can also volunteer to see a program in action, or serve on a review panel for funding proposals in the spring; simply give us a call at 413.442.6948, email us at info@berkshireunitedway.org or visit our website at berkshireunitedway.org.

Together, we accomplish more than any single person, organization, program or agency can do alone—we are making changes in a “United Way,” and for that, we thank you.