Moments House founder Alice Trumbull and volunteer Lisa Udel stand in front of handpainted, donated chairs in their new location.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Moments House will be adding new programming after tripling the size of its space.
The nonprofit organization just moved into a new 3,000 square-foot location on Depot Street and with that, its operators look to ramp up the services they provide to cancer patients and their families.
Moments House began in 2011 when Alice Trumbull and her daughter, Danielle Trumbull, began holding events, meetings and group activities in donated space to bring those struggling with cancer together for support.
As needs arose, they began to add to their services, moving into their first physical location on Fenn Street in 2012. Now, the organization has again outgrown its accommodations and has moved into the larger location at 34 Depot St.
"It allows us to do more than one thing at a time," said Alice Trumbull on Monday.
She said there were just two rooms at the Fenn Street location and, if there was one event going on, it didn't provide the privacy for individuals just wanting to talk.
"You had to share your story with everyone," Trumbull said, adding that the group seeks to be a place where anyone can stop in at any time for support.
With the number of members and volunteers growing, Trumbull said they kept finding more and more unserved needs. With the new location, which opened on Feb. 3, the group is looking to add nutrition classes with a kitchen area, to form a men's group and add music nights. They hope to grow and provide more with the programs they have adapted into their original idea, such as massages and providing free wigs to those undergoing chemotherapy.
"We are growing based on the needs of the community," she said. "We're meeting needs that haven't been met before."
One of those needs was access to wigs. Moments House now has a salon room filled with both artificial and natural hair wigs. The salon area offers a private place for cancer-stricken women to try out and choose from an array of wigs — all at no cost.
"We had the wigs before but they were in a plastic tote so we just pulled it out and shook them off," Trumbull said. "Now we have a nice, private area where women can sit down and try on their wigs."
They opened a massage room for their members, expanded the kitchen area, growing a lending library, added a children's area and opened a full art therapy room. All of those services, along with their group meetings were scheduled around each other in just two rooms before. Now more than one program can be added while still having private space for one-on-one conversations with any individual or family member.
"We are always looking to get people out of their house and into a comfortable place," Trumbull said.
The goal of the organization was primarily to bring people with similar experiences with cancer together. But, it has grown as has their membership. The organization makes its office space "homey" and "comfortable" for patients who spend hours every week in doctor's offices. It also has begun programs of providing rides to appointments and helping those fighting cancer with their bills.
"We built programs based on needs. We didn't have a wig bank in the beginning. One of our biggest needs is to help people pay the bills and we're working on building that back up," she said. "We see a lot of those type of needs."
The new location is on the third floor of 34 Depot St. in downtown Pittsfield.
The group also added a "support system" for those who have successfully fought cancer.
"They have to figure out what normal life is again," Trumbull said.
And all of the programming and support that Moments House provides is done through volunteer efforts. Trumbull doesn't take a salary for running the organization, nor does her new full-time office manager. Meanwhile, companies and individuals throughout the county have run fundraisers or made donations to help them.
"We have all kinds of [fundraising efforts] happening in the community," Trumbull said, with a reflection of awe when she listed the numerous businesses who have raised money for them on their own. "All of it goes back into the organization."
The organization runs its own fundraisers as well, including selling crafted shoes and jewelry and by holding events. On March 29, the annual Slice of Life pizza extravaganza returns to the Crowne Plaza to raise money.
The new space, in the rear of the same building as Baba Louie's, has six parking spaces for their members. There is only one problem — there are seven stairs to get to the rooms. Trumbull says they've raised $30,000 of the needed $40,000 to put in a lift to make it accessible to the handicapped.
Other than that, Trumbull said the new location has everything they were looking for. The Moments House wanted a downtown space to make it more accessible to those who use public transportation, to have enough room and have rental over ownership. The group is ahead of schedule by a couple years in getting its own location.
They opened on Fenn Street mostly a way to have a headquarters, and when the landlord decided to sell the building, Moments House didn't want to purchase one yet. Trumbull said the non-profit is still growing so they didn't want to have to maintain a building until they had more security — both financially and programwise.
"This definitely works for us," she said. "We really liked that it is homey and comfortable when you walk in."
The Moments House is planning an open house on Saturday, March 1, and is hosting a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce event on March 19.
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