Berkshire REALTORS Give $30,000 in donations

Construct – MAR Grant $1,000: Executive Director Jane Ralph

Construct has been around since 1978.  They provide everything from transitional housing, to providing emergency funds or and even microloans that cover: security deposits, fuel bills, utility bills, other housing-related costs – Construct does it all to provide support to those in housing need in fifteen towns across the southern Berkshires.  They are committed to providing affordable housing to strengthen and diversify communities, stabilize lives, and empower individuals to build a better future.

Berkshire Bounty – MAR Grant $1,000: Executive Director Morgan Ovitsky

What is 1,216,893???  That is the number of pounds of nutritious food Berkshire Bounty has collected and provided to those in need to date. Amazing.  We love their backstory – so simple but so powerful.  Backyard Bounty in 2016 with the idea of having volunteers pick the fruit from backyard trees that would normally rot or go to waste and make sure it fed those with food insecurity.  Join that with the idea of our 2005 Good Neighbor REALTOR award winner Mel Greenberg – Realtor by day, superhero by night – he ran an organization for 25 years that worked with area supermarkets on food donations and purchases for those in need and funded The Peoples Pantry, Breaking Bread Soup Kitchen and more.  These two groups merged and the volunteer base does incredible work taking food that would normally be left to spoil and gets it into the hands of those in need in the community.  Since Mel passed and the groups combined, Berkshire Bounty has made great strides in increasing their partner grocery stories, restaurants and volunteers to create a magical solution.

Louison House: $8,200 from the Battle of the Bartender Fundraiser : Moira Miller

Since 1990, the Louison House works to stop the cycle of homelessness. They provide a Transitional Housing Shelter that can house families and individuals for up to two years. They also house chronically homeless families and individuals in subsidized apartments and provide budgeting and financial planning training, cooking, cleaning and maintaining a household to help individuals ready themselves for independent housing success.  They do a lot of preventative outreach services and offer Emergency Assistance for food and shelter. Their Move Forward program is centered on the participants’ goals to move forward and into affordable housing. Working with Louison House staff, program participants engage in workforce development, and life skills development in order to obtain and retain housing.  They also provide basic needs for food and shelter to those households moving into new apartment housing.

REALTORS and their clients should know that financial donations are of course accepted, but so are household good – basic supplies such as kitchen tools, cleaners, paper goods, etc., are purchased and distributed, along with food in a welcome basket to the new apartment residents. Sheets, towels, kitchen supplies – there is need for it all.

Elizabeth Freeman Center: $14,300: Executive Director Janis Broderick and President Marie Paradise with Stephanie Parkington and Leslie Iofredo.

Elizabeth Freeman Center offers hope, help, and healing to all experiencing or affected by domestic and sexual violence through free, accessible, and confidential services in Berkshire County. They serve close to 3,000 people each year, and receive between 1,200 and 1,500 hotline calls and 500-800 referrals from police departments. They provide shelter over 150 adults and children who are fleeing violence, help hundreds get protection orders in court, and provide counseling and advocacy to 1,300-1,500 adults and children. o stop the cycle of violence, they also work hard to teach almost 2,000 children and youth and partnering with area schools, child care centers and youth organizations about the dynamics of healthy relationships and how to take leadership roles in to stop violence and bullying within their peer communities.

Berkshire County has a rate of restraining orders that is 37% higher than the state average. The need is great – calls more than tripled since COVID and every dollar is used to help those in dire need of security and safety. Everything we do to help is appreciated.

Breaking Bread: $5,600 Given from the South County Battle of the Bartenders: Paul & Barbara Mulholland, and Rita Delgado

This organization works to provide a weekly meal for those in need in southern Berkshire. In this regard, they work with six teams that rotate every week in purchasing groceries, food containers and set about cooking and packaging very delicious and healthy meals. This started as a community supper and since COVID has provided a weekly takeout meal to go for families in need, as well as access to pantry goods. They are hoping to get back to the community super because it provided not only nourishment but also support and companionship for those who might have very little support in their lives. The fundraising goes to help ensure that there are enough funds to purchase healthy meals for at least 100 people a week. With the cost of food increasing this is very important that the volunteer teams that assist every six weeks have something to fall back on if they can’t personally fundraise for the dinner costs. currently Eric stern eagle of fairground real estate has been the soul provider of the REALTOR week of dinners. He was the one who alerted the RCS committee about the need for assistance as all of the costs have increased greatly.

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