PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Humane Society added a new volunteer program designed for children in the county who love and want to help animals. Beginning in January, the Humane Hero program will offer kid-friendly workshops in both Pittsfield and Great Barrington.
The Humane Hero program was developed by Lizzy Brown, outreach coordinator at BHS, and Danielle Hammell, shelter manager at Purradise.
"Danielle and I were talking about how difficult it is to be a kid who isn't old enough to volunteer for BHS," Brown said. "We came up with a plan to start a volunteer program that would fill this gap and that was so desperately needed by these kids."
Currently, children between 12 and 16 years old who want to volunteer at BHS or Purradise need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
According to Brown and Hammell, the Humane Hero program, which was underwritten by Claudia and Steven Perles Family Foundation, has two goals. The first is to educate the "Heroes" about the important roles animals play in our lives, which is directly related to the second goal — teaching them the importance of being an animal advocate and educator within their community.
Every month, the Humane Hero program will hold two workshops, one at BHS in Pittsfield and the other at the Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington. Each hour-long class will explore various animal topics, ranging from puppy mills and pet overpopulation to disaster planning for animals.
Participants in the program will also learn how to raise awareness about the animals at BHS and Purradise as well as food, supplies, and money for them.
"Children often feel powerless in the world of adults," Hammell said. "They want to contribute and make an impact with all their hearts. The Humane Hero program will give them all the resources and opportunities to make it happen."
Brown and Hammell have developed 10 activities that Heroes can organize to help BHS, including bake sales, lemonade stands, Read-A-Thons, food drives and outreach programs to community groups. BHS will provide informational flyers, promotional materials, as well as other equipment for these activities.
There is no cost to attend the Humane Hero program. Although it is designed for children 10 to 14 years old, all ages are invited to attend.
Two orientation sessions for the Humane Hero program are planned for Saturday, Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. at BHS in Pittsfield and 2 p.m. at the Berkshire South Community Center in Great Barrington. Parents are encouraged to attend with their children.