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Michelle Lopez and Lorena Dus.

Frontline Worker Honored With Miraval Retreat

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Candace Winkler, Lorena Dus, and Vic Cappadona
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lorena Dus, a senior caseworker at Berkshire Immigrant Center, has been honored by the Berkshire United Way with a retreat at Miraval Berkshires.
"I am very lucky. I have a job I love and being able to help others is my reward," Dus said. "I feel very humbled and honored and I look forward to staying at Miraval Berkshires. Thank you to Berkshire United Way and to my colleagues for thinking of me."
In partnership with Miraval Berkshires, Berkshire United Way issued a call for nominations to honor first responders and essential workers supporting their community during the pandemic. 
"Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in these nominations. We're excited for Lorena and appreciate the support she and the rest of the nominees are providing our neighbors throughout the county. We also want to thank Miraval Berkshires for their generosity in offering this great getaway right here in the Berkshires," Candace Winkler, BUW president and chief executive officer said.
World Gratitude Day kicked off the nomination process and 28 names were submitted. Dus was randomly selected, and she and a guest will enjoy a four-day, three-night retreat at Miraval Berkshires in Lenox.
"We are overwhelmed by the abundance of nominations our Gratitude Day giveaway has received from the local community," Vic Cappadona, general manager of Miraval Berkshires said. "Miraval Berkshires, along with Berkshire United Way, looks forward to honoring Lorena's impressive contributions to our community with a well-being retreat filled with healing and restoration."
At  Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC), Lorena Dus has helped hundreds of immigrants with legal consultations, case filings, referrals, translations and emergency fund assistance. 
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, her caseload increased, yet she remained committed to helping others.
"Lorena is a champion for immigrants and her community," BIC Executive Director Michelle Lopez, who nominated Dus for Berkshire United Way's recent gratitude nomination process, said.
During her tenure at BIC, Dus has helped over 160 immigrants achieve U.S. citizenship and advocated for the rights of hundreds of other immigrants in various difficult situations. 
Since the shutdown in March, she has screened more than 50 undocumented immigrant families not eligible to receive government benefits so that BIC Development Coordinator Sheryl Lechner, who raised most of the COVID-19 emergency relief funds, could then provide them the funds. 
Dus has also filed for 23 immigrants to become U.S. citizens and has met with or called more than 80 clients to file immigration visa petitions, provide document translations and notarizations and give referrals to other community services.
Dus herself immigrated to Berkshire County from Venezuela more than four years ago and expressed what an incredibly exciting and meaningful time this is for her and her family. 
In addition to her role at Berkshire Immigrant Center, Dus also serves on the Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force created by the Berkshire District Attorney's Office and is a virtual volunteer for the Estamos Unidos translation project for asylum seekers at the United States/Mexico border.
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Pittsfield Fire Victim Flown to Mass General With Severe Burns

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man is in critical condition after being rescued by firefighters from a burning second-floor apartment on Friday.
The victim was found suffering from severe burns in a room next to the kitchen where the fire started in Apartment 4 at 483 Peck's Road. He was taken to Berkshire Medical Center by Action Ambulance and later flown to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  
The blaze in the six-unit structure was reported at about noontime. Brown smoke was reported coming from the eaves of the building and a hose was stretched to the second floor apartment to extinguish the kitchen fire. Crews from Engines 3 and 5 entered the building and found the victim. Personnel from Engine 1 did a primary search of the structure for any other individuals and to determine the extent of the fire. 
The fire damage was largely confined to single apartment but the occupant of the unit underneath on the first floor was displaced. Red Cross was contacted to assist the person. The rest of the building suffered degrees of smoke damage. 
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