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Reading these narratives, see how the Northern Berkshire United Way donations make a direct impact to the lives of people who live and work in the Northern Berkshires.



S. was homeless last December when she came to The Parent’s Place. A single parent of two preschoolers, S. had no friends, no income, no transportation, and only her sister who lived two towns away for emotional support. S. was referred here through Family Life Support, Inc. In the past nine months S. found a new apartment, enrolled her son in pre-school, found health care, mental health services, and enrolled herself and her daughter in educational classes at The Parent’s Place.

“I am always comfortable here,” she has told us. “Thank you for being here to support me.” S. appreciates the transportation support she receives through Northern Berkshire United Way and the Williamstown Community Chest. The dollar or two of support to purchase a bus ticket, on some days, will determine whether or not S. and her daughter can come to The Parent’s Place.

Our support, and our close collaboration with the Head Start program, helped S. come to grips with her son’s behavioral disability and his subsequent need for medical treatment and play therapy. Acknowledging a disability in your child is a difficult task for any parent. S. participates in our parenting group, home visits and parent and child together time through our Even Start family literacy program. S. says that information she has received and the support of staff made her successful transition to this community possible. She also says that support from The Parent’s Place helped her develop the inner strength to successfully deal with issues in a positive way.

During this time S. continues to work toward her ultimate goal of a GED. To us, S. is an intelligent, caring parent who is using the resources available to her at The Parent’s Place to reach her own goals.

Making the grade


“Susan” arrived at the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Shelter for Battered Women and their Children a little over a year ago from out of town after leaving an abusive relationship. She had brought her baby with her and the two were placed in the shelter. When she arrived “Susan” was very angry and hurt about what had happened and it took a long time for the counselors at the Center to get her to open-up, accept what happened, and to change her life for the better. When she finally did, “Susan” was very successful. After finding a home in the area, she went to college, received her degree, and now has a successful career.


A Good Nights Sleep


“Matt” and his family came to United Cerebral Palsy after he had been in a serious diving accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His paralysis scared “Matt” and he was often afraid that he would not receive the help that he needed because he was unable to move. One of the most terrifying times for him was at night when the rest of the family was sleeping and would not hear him if he called out. United Cerebral Palsy took care of the night situation immediately by installing a voice activated call button so that “Matt’s” family would be able to help him if he needed assistance during the night. Later, “Matt” was given a telephone that he could use without a family member holding the receiver to his ear and also voice activated remote controls for his stereo and television. This assistance has given “Matt” the opportunity to do things for himself and so he no longer needs to rely on his family for everything. United Cerebral Palsy has returned to “Matt” a small piece of the independence that he enjoyed before the accident.




Post-Surgery Help for Peter


Last winter Peter Wilson, a 47-year-old Cheshire man, was suffering from peripheral vascular disease. Three toes on his right foot had to be amputated, and he had bypass surgery on his lower extremities. Peter had forty staples and seven sutures on his left leg and a draining wound on his right foot. He needed dressing changes two times per day, and he had no health insurance to pay for this care. He was high risk for infection and poor healing because of his impaired vascular status.

Peter was referred to Northern Berkshire Visiting Nurses Association, and the nurse who came to his home helped him develop a low cost plan for care that included enlisting a friend to help. The VNA nurse taught both Peter and his friend how to change the dressings on Peter’s wounds and safely dispose of soiled dressings. The nurse instructed both of them on pain management, diet to promote healing, and how to recognize and report adverse symptoms. The VNA nurse continued to visit Peter at his home for over four weeks until he was out of immediate danger, and before she was done, she also helped him apply for MassHealth to cover future medical expenses.




Goodwill, a lifetime partner for Michael


Michael Monahan is a Clarksburg native who graduated from high school fourteen years ago, but wasn’t ready for the real world. He tested as “borderline intellectual functioning” and needed help from Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to organize his life and to find employment. Mass Rehab developed a collaboration with Goodwill to train Michael for employment and to provide general support. Ever since, Michael has gone to work at Goodwill every day and has developed some work and life skills.

Programs such as the one Michael is in are funded primarily through the sale of items community members donate to Goodwill. Much clothing that is donated, however, can’t be sold at retail locally and is instead sold in bulk and shipped overseas to needy countries. Michael participates in the shipment process every day with other Goodwill employees, using a machine to compress the unsold clothing into 700-pound bales and using fork lifts and hand trucks to pack the bales into 18-wheel trucks for export.

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