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When a shopper purchases the reusable Community Bag at any Big Y store, they have the opportunity to direct a $1 donation to a local nonprofit by using the attached Giving Tag.

Biz Briefs: Big Y Bag Program Now Benefitting Hillcrest Educational Centers, BCARC

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Bags for a cause

Hillcrest Educational Centers and Berkshire County Arc begun generating donations through the Big Y Community Bag and Giving Tag Program. The Big Y Community Bag and Giving Tag Program, which launched in January 2019, is a reusable bag program that facilitates community support with the goal to make a difference in the communities where shoppers live and work. When a shopper purchases the reusable Community Bag at any Big Y store, they have the opportunity to direct a $1 donation to a local nonprofit by using the attached Giving Tag.

"Participating in Big Y's Community Bag and Giving Tag program is an exciting opportunity for us," said Hillcrest Educational Centers' President and CEO Gerard Burke. "Hillcrest has been apart of the Berkshire community for 34 years. Support from Big Y's program and others like it ensure that we’ll continue to provide a healing environment for our students for years to come." Hillcrest Educational Centers plans to add the donations they receive to their endowment fund, which ensures they will continue to support their students, regardless of economic climate.

"A joint effort to help our community go green and to generate donations for our organization that will go directly back to helping the individuals and families that we serve is a win-win for us," said Berkshire County Arc President and CEO Kenneth W. Singer. Berkshire County Arc hopes to raise $1,000 through directed Giving Tag donations.

The Big Y Community Bag and Giving Tag Program is an ongoing fundraiser. Every month, Big Y contributes money to approximately 73 non-profits local to the communities in which each Big Y serves. Recipient organizations change monthly based on the selections made by store leadership. For more information on the Big Y Community Bag and Giving Tag Program, visit the website.

 

Nonprofit Center grant

The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires has received its first major program grant from Berkshire Bank Foundation. The funding will be used to support four core NPC programs in 2019: The Berkshire Nonprofit Awards on May 21, Berkshire Nonprofit Connections Magazine, Board Trainings for community members, and the annual Giving Back guide.

"Berkshire Bank's support is significant for an entrepreneurial organization like the Nonprofit Center," said NPC founder Liana Toscanini. "This type of funding allows us to offer all of our services free or at very low cost to nonprofits. Since we serve hundreds of Berkshire nonprofits, this grant really goes a long way in supporting the sector."


"We are so pleased to support the great efforts of the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires," said Lori Gazzillo Kiely, director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. "Supporting the many nonprofits doing such important work throughout Berkshire County is core to the mission of our Foundation, and the Nonprofit Center’s programs go a long way toward providing the backbone support that so many small organizations need. We are proud to play a small role in assisting with this endeavor."

Berkshire Bank's charitable foundation awards over $2 million annually to nonprofit organizations in the bank's service area. The Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires was founded in 2016 to help nonprofits connect, learn and grow.

 

Sotheby's upswing

A report detailing annual 2018 market results in Fairfield, Litchfield and Hartford Counties and the Shoreline in Connecticut, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and Westchester County, New York, has been released by William Pitt-Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. The report stated that 2018 began with virtually every market the company serves experiencing sales decreases in single family home sales versus the first quarter the prior year. Yet by year’s end, many markets climbed ahead of 2017, while others still trailed slightly behind.

Westchester and Fairfield County markets saw modest decreases in unit sales and dollar volume, while the Connecticut Shoreline saw minimal decreases in unit sales even as dollar volume improved. Litchfield and Berkshire Counties experienced sales growth and the Farmington Valley was flat with steady sales.

In examining economic indicators, the report contended that there were reasons for optimism in the housing market. The recent drop in mortgage rates, strong job growth, the ongoing historic lows among Federal Reserve interest rates, and consistently elevated consumer confidence all come together to support a healthy outlook for real estate, according to the report.

"Key economic indicators all remain favorable to a strong economy, and lay a stable foundation for a healthy real estate market," said Paul Breunich, president and CEO of William Pitt-Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. "If there was a pause in the marketplace early in 2018 due to uncertainty surrounding the tax reform bill that passed in late 2017, the year painted a more positive picture by the time it reached its conclusion. We're still not certain of the tax bill's impact, and it's only this year that we may begin to understand the full effect, if any. For now, observable economic data leaves us feeling bullish on the market as we enter the new year."


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Pittsfield Hoop Club Awards Five Scholarships

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Hoop Club continues its long-standing tradition of supporting local student-athletes and celebrating the city’s rich sports tradition with the announcement of the Class of 2019 Scholarship Award Recipients.
 
Since 1998, The Pittsfield Hoop Club has contributed more than $85,000 to local student-athletes through their scholarship program. In addition to investing in the future of local student-athletes, the organization is also devoted to recognizing former players, coaches, and contributors to the game. Five senior basketball players, who are set to graduate this month from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School, are being recognized by the Pittsfield Hoop Club – with each student receiving a $500 scholarship to be allocated to their post-secondary education.
 
“We are pleased to award these scholarships," club president John McLaughlin said. "The scholarship program has been a core part of our mission since The Pittsfield Hoop Club was founded close to 20 years ago. It’s gratifying to support these particular students in such a direct way.”
 
The Pittsfield Hoop Club scholarships are awarded at a time when the average annual college tuition hovers around $10,000 at public universities and $35,000 at private colleges, which does not include room, board, and other expenses. Kevin Codey and Tim Carroll, the Pittsfield Hoop Club Scholarship Committee co-chairs, noted the body of work that the annual scholarship recipients possess. 
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