LitNet Welcomes New Board Member

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LEE, Mass. — Literacy Network of South Berkshire (LitNet) announced the election of Lorena Dus to the organization's Board of Directors.  
"We are very excited to welcome Lorena to the Board. Her background and perspective are ideal for providing strategic direction for LitNet's future growth," said Merle Duskin Kailas, President of the LitNet Board.  
Dus currently works as a Senior Case Worker at Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC). A native of Venezuela, Dus joined BIC in September of 2017 after moving to the United States from Ireland. 
She has a degree in Political Science and a master's degree in Human Rights, and has worked with non-profit organizations from a very young age helping indigenous people, refugees, displaced people, and children at risk. She has traveled doing humanitarian aid after the earthquakes in El Salvador (2001), Peru (2007) and Haiti (2010) and has volunteered with the UNHCR, One Young World, the Irish Red Cross, and Oxfam International.
Lorena meets with BIC clients on a daily basis to assess and advocate for their immigration needs. She is part of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force created by the Berkshire County District Attorney, and she volunteers for the Estamos Unidos Asylum Project, created by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., a project that provides legal assistance for migrants who fled persecution in their home countries and wait at the U.S.-Mexico border in Juarez to apply for asylum in the United States. She is a recipient of the 2019 "Super Staffer" award given by the NonProfit Center of the Berkshires and a 2020 40 Under Forty awardee by Berkshire Community College.  
"LitNet is an organization that I have personally witnessed transform and inspire community members' lives," Dus said. "Having learned English as my second language and as an immigrant calling the Berkshires my new home, I am proud to participate with this group of dedicated and talented members." 
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Lee Bank Establishes Foundation to Build on Community Reinvestment

LEE, Mass. — Lee Bank has created the Lee Bank Foundation and project distributing $250,000 through the Foundation, a more formal entity for community donations. 
"Lee Bank's community contributions stretch back to its origins in 1852, but establishing Lee Bank Foundation sharpens our focus even further," said Chuck Leach, president of Lee Bank. "The Foundation also simplifies the application process for organizations doing meaningful work to support our Berkshire community."
The recently renovated Marble House will house the foundation along with the new financial wellness service, for which hiring is under way.
In recent years, Lee Bank has typically set aside at least 5 percent of its annual net income for the support of area nonprofits. This giving has been on the rise: in 2020, Lee Bank contributed nearly $179,000 to community nonprofits; in 2019, $145,000 and in 2018, $120,000. Last year, Lee Bank's distributions included $50,000 to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund for Berkshire County.
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