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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Berkshire Immigrant Center Celebrates National Immigrant Heritage Month
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Beginning June 1, the Berkshire Immigrant Center invites the community to honor the more than 10,000 immigrants in the Berkshires and by joining the annual observance of national Immigrant Heritage Month and helping to launch a $10,000 fundraising campaign for the center.
"During Immigrant Heritage Month, we proudly honor the many ways immigrants make the Berkshires a better place," said BIC Executive Director Michelle Lopez. "This year we are especially grateful for the hundreds of foreign-born doctors, medical technicians, nurses and staff who are caring for people at Berkshire Medical Center, Fairview Hospital, and nursing homes, and for local immigrants who are essential workers at our grocery stores, restaurants and farms."
Since March 20, BIC has raised more than $70,000 for a COVID-19 Relief Fund. Through this fund, BIC has helped more than 140 clients and their families pay for basic needs like rent and utilities.
"We know that so many local people are hurting, both our clients and our supporters, yet even during this crisis people are asking us how they can help," Lopez said.
While 100 percent of emergency relief has been passed through to clients, donations to the Immigrant Heritage Month Campaign help ensure that BIC can serve the local immigrant community in crisis and beyond, including helping immigrants become US citizens. In this year of the U.S. Census count, BIC has also worked diligently to make sure that immigrants are counted and that Berkshire communities thus receive every dollar of federal aid that they should get.
Tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome online. Contributions can also be made by check made out to Berkshire Immigrant Center and mailed to BIC, 67 East Street, Pittsfield MA 01201.
The center remains the only program in Berkshire County that focuses exclusively on meeting the unique challenges of a continuously growing immigrant and refugee population. In 2018 BIC was named "Best Small Nonprofit" in the state by Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.
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