Runners sport bunny ears in the first Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness in North Adams in 2013. This year's event is Saturday, April 19.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Spring often brings with it an increased stream of people needing emergency housing.
Which is why spring is also the perfect time for a fundraiser for Louison House, the only homeless shelter in Northern Berkshire County.
But this year as the shelter prepares for its second annual Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness fundraiser on Saturday, April 19, there's another reason to worry that the one 22-bed home in Adams might struggle to meet the needs of the region: the closure of Northern Berkshire Healthcare and the loss of more than 500 local jobs.
"We're definitely seeing that the need for our services is going to grow," said Lindsay Errichetto, the executive director of the Family Life Support Center, the nonprofit organization that operates Louison House.
That's why the Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness is so important: Not only does it raise money, it also raises awareness that yes, there is homelessness in North County, and yes, there is a place for people in a transitional situation to turn to for help.
"This is a positive, high-energy event," Errichetto said. "But it's put our operations and the need for our services in perspective."
The 1-mile walk starts at 10:30 a.m. and the 5K run starts at 11 a.m. on Main Street in North Adams. The first 100 registrants will get a free T-shirt, there is a discount for early registration and there are prizes for fundraising. New this year will also be an Easter egg hunt for the kids. Runners can register at www.accu-specracing.com.
Last year the event raised $4,000, all of which went directly to Louison House's operating costs; this year's goal is $5,000.
"We were surprised to raise so much last year," Errichetto said. "We hope to get more."
More would be good, as the shelter is already full even as spring has just sprung and the fallout of the loss of the 500-plus jobs has only just begun.
"This is crippling. We're really bracing for that," she said.