The staff members assembled the beds and later painted them.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — There are a lot of challenges for a family just moving into stabilized housing.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked challenges is the cost of providing beds for the children. That's why in 2012 the Massachusetts Coalition for Homeless started a "Build a Bed" program aimed to have corporate sponsors build free beds for children across the state.
"When you think of helping a child succeed, sometimes the last thing you think of is what are they sleeping in. We were so happy to identify a need such as this," said Program Director Tina Giarla.
"The expense of providing a bed for a child or each child in the household is sometimes out of reach, especially when you are covering first, last, and security and other startup costs that are so vitally important to sustain housing. What we want to do is be able to lessen the stressors."
On Wednesday, the program had its first foray in Berkshire County. The program partnered with Berkshire Bank and Berkshire Community Action Council to construct 11 beds for children this year. Berkshire Bank employees took a few hours out of their day to build the beds at the Boys and Girls Club and BCAC will then be tasked with identifying and connecting with the families who could use the extra assistance.
"They are all going to stay local, here in Pittsfield and Berkshire County, and assist local families," said Gary Levante, vice president for corporate social responsibility.
Levante said this project fits in with the company's desire to give back to the community and is one of many done throughout the year. On Wednesday, the company's loan servicing department with some 25 employees from Pittsfield and Springfield constructed the beds.
"It is a great team building opportunity for our employees," Levante said. "This is something our employees would really value and a great way for us to give back to the local community and help local children."
The project is a new one for the bank to take on but Levante said it will likely do more across its markets. The bank sponsors the build and Build a Bed provides the materials.
"It is something we take for granted every day. Having a bed to sleep in for many underresourced families, they may not have that. This initiative utilizes corporate volunteers to create beds to distribute to those in need," Levante said.
Giarla said the Lynn-based non-profit is on track to build more than 1,000 beds this year. Last year, some 2,000 children benefited from the program.
Berkshire Community Action Council will be given the completed beds at the end of the project to give out to local children.
"This last year we served over 2,000 children and since our inception in 2012 we served over 6,000 kids throughout Massachusetts," she said. "We serve families and children in Hyannis up to Haverhill to the Berkshires and everything between. Currently, we are partnering with 90 different school districts across the state."
Giarla said the majority of the referrals for beds come from school districts. She said approximately one in six children grow up in poverty and that's just the "tip of the iceberg." She said there is a significant need throughout the state for helping people to transition out of poverty and into a more stable living situation.
"This is our first entryway [in the berkshires] and we're hopeful that with continued commitment, we could continue to serve children in the Berkshires that are living in poverty without beds of their own," she said.
Giarla and Levante both echoed sentiments that providing a bed isn't just helping a family find economic stability, but also helping the children be more prepared to perform well in school and ultimately better themselves.
"You have to have a strong foundation, you have to have a strong education. If a child is going to school without a good night's sleep because they don't have a bed, they're not going to learn and they're not going to be able to achieve their full potential. At the very basic level, this is helping a child have a better education," Levante said.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Pittsfield 12-Year-Olds Earn Walkoff Win in Little League Sectional
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Dave Wildgoose ripped a single up the middle in the bottom of the sixth to score Anthony Hill Friday and give the Pittsfield Little League American Division All-Stars a 5-4, come-from-behind win over Agawam in the 12-year-old sectional tournament.
Cam Harrington and Mitch Hall each singled in the seventh-inning rally, which started with the visitors clinging to a 4-3 lead at Deming Park.
"I just tell them to stay confident," Pittsfield manager Matt Stracuzzi said. "We're a confident team, and I just keep preaching to those guys: Just be confident. Don't get down on yourselves.
"Just because we're down a run or two, it doesn't mean this game is over."
Wetland issues have derailed planned improvements to Pontsoosuc Lake Park.
The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake received $15,000 from the Community Preservation Act with the intent to restore the beach on the Hancock Road side. The city's Parks, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim... click for more
When two men came whipping into the city with police on their tail in March, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police officers hanging out the window shooting their guns off trying to blow out the tires. That only happens in movies.
In fact, residents didn't see Pittsfield Police on the suspect's... click for more
In other business, the Berkshire Innovation Center is on pace for an October opening. The research and development center broke ground in September and now has a new executive director on board in Ben Sosne.
click for more
Keep it simple.
That's what Edward Carmel believes. But he doesn't believe the current City Council is doing that. He feels the council spins its wheels tinkering with things and not accomplishing anything. click for more