Letter: DA Harrington's Task Force Reshapes Response to Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault

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To the Editor:

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior one person in a relationship uses to control, humiliate and hurt another person emotionally, sexually, financially, or physically. Studies increasingly show that domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness and poverty.

According to the Elizabeth Freeman Center, domestic violence exists at all socioeconomic levels. However, most victims who leave abusive relationships suffer an immediate drop in financial worth due to the loss of income, housing, employment, schooling, family support or childcare.

Domestic violence is never the victim's fault.

The last two years have seen two domestic violence murders in north Berkshire which rocked our community, one in North Adams and the second in neighboring Clarksburg. North Adams also reported a high rate of aggravated and sexual assault compared to the national average. Over the last year, city leaders voiced their concerns on this issue and held several community forums, rallies, and vigils. Groups were created to bring awareness, education and community outreach to solve the problem.


There is still much work to do, and the Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force will be the catalyst to confront this crisis as a region. Led by the DA's Office, the Task Force has an ambitious agenda with a team of advocates, elected officials, law enforcement professionals and medical providers on board. This team is entrusted to secure resources, provide outreach, education, training, draft legislation, prosecute abusers and protect victims.

In recognition of Sexual Awareness month, there are 345 blue lawn flags on display at the entrance to the Elizabeth Freeman Center in Pittsfield. Each flag represents a person who received services for sexual assault in Berkshire County during 2018.

Sexual assault is never the victim's fault.

The newly formed task force is a reassuring response to this problem by District Attorney Harrington. It is an intentional renewal of energy and additional support to assist victims and survivors in our communities, neighborhoods, and families.

Marie T. Harpin
North Adams, Mass. 

Marie T. Harpin, is a North Adams city councilor & member of the district attorney's Berkshire County Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force

 

 

 

 

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Smart Financial Moves for 'Gig' Economy Workers

Submitted by Edward Jones

Not that long ago, most people worked for some type of an organization, such as a business or the government or a school district. But today, more and more workers are going their own way and joining what's known as the "gig" economy. If you will be one of them, you'll want to make the right moves to advance your financial goals in what can be a challenging work environment.

But first, you may find some comfort in knowing the prevalence of gig work. About 36 percent of U.S. workers are now gig workers, according to a study from the Gallup organization, which defines the gig economy as one made up of a variety of arrangements – independent contractors, online platform workers, contract workers, on-call workers, temporary workers and freelancers. People join the gig economy for many reasons, but most of them, like you, could benefit by considering these actions:

Establish your own retirement plan. When you're a full-time employee, your employer may offer a 401(k) or similar retirement plan. But as a gig worker, you need to save for your own retirement. Fortunately, you've got a lot of attractive options. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to open a SEP-IRA or even a "solo" or "owner-only" 401(k), which offers many of the same features of an employer-sponsored 401(k). Both these plans allow you to make pre-tax contributions, which can lower your taxable income. Plus, your earnings can grow on a tax-deferred basis. (Keep in mind that taxes will be due upon withdrawal, and any withdrawals you make before you turn 59 1/2 may be subject to a 10 percent IRS penalty.)

Create an emergency fund. Working in the gig economy can bring rewards and risks. And one of those risks is unpredictable – and often uneven – cash flow. This can be a cause for concern during times when you face a large unexpected expense, such as a major car repair or medical bill. To avoid dipping in to your long-term investments to pay for these costs, you should establish an emergency fund containing at least six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account.

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