PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Humane Society has been forced to change operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic but its and care and support for animals will not waiver.
"We understand that this is a tough time for everyone. We just want people to know that the homeless animals in our care are still getting the same, nurturing level of care that they always do and we are continuing our programs to help pet owners keep pets in their loving homes," Executive Director, John Perreault said. "We appreciate the support the community has given us at this time. We'll work through this together and look forward to better times for both people and the animals they love."
The novel coronavirus has forced many businesses and organizations to close their doors or modify how they do business and this has been the case for the Berkshire Humane Society.
The nonprofit animal shelter has closed its doors to the public for the time being but is still allowing surrenders and adoptions, but only by appointment. Human contact has been limited and these appointments take place in a sterile area.
As for the Pet Food Bank, a drop-off system has been implemented. Users can call ahead of time notifying Berkshire Humane that they would like to make a pickup and the food will be left outside.
"We realize that this pandemic has caused financial hardship for people who have never experienced it before," Perreault said. "We want folks to know that they should not be embarrassed to ask for help from us. The food bank is here for a reason and now many people have a good reasons to use it. Just call us at 413-447-7878 for more information and we'll help you take care of your pet."
Approved applicants receive a card that entitles them to six monthly visits and recipients can reapply if they are still in need after six months.
Purradise, the satellite cat adoption and boarding facility in Great Barrington, and the Catwalk Boutique resale shops in Lenox and Great Barrington have been closed. Staff kept on have been asked to monitor their health.
The shelter also temporarily eliminated some volunteer positions not needed with the lack of foot traffic in the facility. Volunteers responsible for cleaning cages and dog walking have been allowed to stay on.
"Right now, we're still benefiting from the work of our volunteers who feel safe doing their jobs. Their support is helping us continue shelter operations and programs," Perreault said. "If we remain closed to the public for an extended period of time, we may have challenges in ramping up our volunteer force when we reopen. Our volunteers' schedules and routines may change during a long hiatus and they may be unable to volunteer or have found other things to do."
Perreault said COVID-19 has financially impacted Berkshire Humane with major donors hesitant to donate and lost revenue from canceled events such as the Humane Race, radiothon, lasagna dinner, and the April spring break kids camp.
Perreault said it is nothing short of a "financial disaster" but they are doing what they can to survive
"As a result, we've tightened our belts by temporarily laying off part-time staff, instituting pay cuts and not spending money on anything that is not essential, such as paid advertising," he said. "We've shifted our outreach to scheduled social media."
Perreault said the nonprofit is hosting live interactive events on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@BerkshireHumane) live interactive events.
Perreault said Berkshire Humane could use some assistance and are in need of disinfectant spray.
"Right now, we have most of material things we need, including pet food," he said. "One thing we are getting low on and are having a hard time finding is Lysol disinfectant spray. If someone has a stash of it, we could put it to use."
But how can Berkshire Humane help you? Perreault said this is a great time to adopt an animal if you are ready to do so.
"This is a great time to adopt a pet if you can afford it. It would help us financially and you'd have time to bond with your new pet," he said. "Just remember, you will be going back to work at some point, so you should prepare yourself for that, too."
And for those stuck at home with their pets, Perreault said this is a great time to spend some time with your animal companions
"Pets help keep us mentally and physically healthy," he said. "They help lower blood pressure and give us a sense of purpose because they could not survive without our love and care. In return, they give us unconditional love that is so much needed these days."
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Biz Briefs: SABIC Donating to Local United Way to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts
SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals, is donating $25,000 to the Berkshire United Way to help serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from $1 million in monetary donations to food banks and community-based agencies in the communities where the company operates, SABIC, whose head office is based in Houston, also is donating approximately $500,000 of its products. SABIC products are used to manufacture personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and medical equipment such as ventilators, patient monitoring devices, face shields, respiratory therapy machines and diagnostic equipment.
The company, which operates the Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield, Mass., also is donating face shields made with SABIC’s LEXAN polycarbonate sheet product to local police and fire departments. SABIC employees, too, are joining together to raise funds that will go to charitable organizations of their choice and the company is matching the employee contributions dollar-for-dollar.
SABIC currently operates 60 manufacturing and compounding plants in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Small business survey
The Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire has released a small business survey to assess the greatest needs of small businesses during this COVID-19 crisis. This Small Business Technical Assistance Needs Survey will help CDCSB focus professional technical assistance to businesses where they most need it for them to weather the devastating economic impact of the endemic. All businesses based in the southern Berkshires are encouraged to complete the survey by clicking here.
CDCSB is joining other western Massachusetts CDCs – Hilltown CDC, Franklin County CDC and Valley CDC (Northampton) – in seeking funding to provide free professional business assistance that can include legal and financial advice, strategic planning, access to capital, marketing, pivoting sales to a digital platform, or creating new product lines. This will significantly expand the capacity for small business assistance throughout western Mass., a central part of CDCSB’s economic development mission.
The CDCSB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating job opportunities, promoting economic development, and building low-moderate income housing in the southern Berkshires. In collaboration with other local organizations, CDCSB has helped build over 60 affordable housing units, leveraged over $30 million in private and public funding for south Berkshire County and has a current development pipeline of 120 new affordable housing units.
"I never intended to stay involved this long, but after you see the love and respect the staff have for the people they serve, it's impossible to leave," he said. "And while it has been hard for me to resign, it's time for me to step down, allow for new leadership, and enjoy my retirement." click for more