Small investments yield large returns for Northern Berkshire
Updated: Sep 3, 2019
by Christa Collier
September 4, 2018... In 1993, a young woman was hired to work at the (long gone) Price Chopper Supermarket on Curran Highway. She was given an apron, a name badge and a United Way pledge form. She did not know what the United Way was but was told that any money she gave to them would help the most in need in the community. So, she decided to contribute .50 per week and did so for the next several years through high school and college. When she graduated college, she was hired at a local nonprofit funded by none other than the United Way. She went on to work for the next 21 years at United Way funded nonprofits in her local community. For the past two years, would you believe, she has been the Executive Director of the Northern Berkshire United Way. That individual happens to writer of this column.
I could not have predicted those turn of events 25 years ago. My longtime involvement in United Way gives me a unique perspective and of the importance of this organization in the community and the 20 member agenices that support our community. They serve over 10,000 individuals through their critical human services programs.
It is that time of year again when we start to kick off our annual campaign and go into area workplaces to tell the stories about why our 20 member agencies need our support and their donation, no matter how small, and that even a donation as small as .50, that I once made, can make a big difference. We are fortunate to live where people are so generous. We may have many needs, but we also have many people and agencies working together to find solutions for them. We only have to support them.
While our core mission is to serve as a fundraising entity, we are much more than that. This is why this September we will gather with our community partners and donors, MountainOne, National Grid, the City of North Adams and the North Adams Rotary Club to install the Born Learning Trail. Funded by MountainOne, the Born Learning Trail is a component of one of United Way Worlwide’s public engagement campaign to help local United Ways across the country advance early childhood impact strategies. This is a series of 10, stimulating, interactive signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. It helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or visiting a local, public play area.
Child Care of the Berkshires, one of our member agencies is excited to have the Born Learning Trail installed in their own back yard. “It will be such a convenient opportunity for children and parents to interact together about the things they see in their everyday world. Early education is the key to school success and it starts with parents and children learning and reading together. The Born Learning Trail will provide fun outdoor learning opportunities for Northern Berkshire families.” stated Executive Director, Anne Nemetz Carlson.
Born Learning Trails are used by the early education community and families with young children. We are working with one of our member agencies, Child Care of the Berkshires but will also encourage area early education and care and early intervention programs (many who are member agencies) to utilize the Born Learning Trail as part of their program. We will work to connect with local families through our member agencies to utilize the trail.
It never ceases to amaze to see the large and small businesses, school systems, banks and individuals who have come together to give back to this community. The unwavering determination of every individual involved in the Northern Berkshire United Way network and campaign and shows the pride we take in our community, right here in Northern Berkshire.
Christa Collier is the Executive Director of Northern Berkshire United Way