|BHS Donates $50,000 to Berkshire COVID-19 Relief Fund in Honor of its Employees|
|May 28, 2020
For Immediate Release
BHS HONORS EMPLOYEES WITH DONATION TO BERKSHIRE COVID-19 FUND
PITTSFIELD, MA — Berkshire Health Systems (BHS) has announced a $50,000 gift to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Berkshire County, co-led by Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and in partnership with Northern Berkshire United Way and Williamstown Community Chest.
The donation, which was made in honor of all BHS employees and medical staff, will be designated to support two major programs that provide reliable access to healthy food for residents of Berkshire County.
“From restaurants and small businesses to physicians and hospitals, we are all hurting as a result of COVID-19. After learning about the significant increase in food pantry needs in recent months, we knew we had to act. Our hospitals will have time to rebuild after the severe economic losses we have experienced, but a hungry family simply cannot wait,” stated David Phelps, president and CEO of BHS.
When social distancing and COVID-19 regulations forced BHS to cancel its annual employee and physician recognition events, BHS leaders decided that it would be fitting to redirect the budgeted funds that had been reserved for those events and, instead, make this donation in honor of employees and physicians.
“We have received so much love and appreciation from our community members during the pandemic. We want to give back to our community now, when the need for basic food and supplies is real for so many Berkshire residents,” explained Phelps.
The $50,000 donation will be split evenly between the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which services 12 food pantries in the Berkshires, and the Market Match program that allows low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to double their weekly food allowance when shopping at local farmers markets. The Food Bank distributed 186,000 pounds of food in the Berkshires in March and reports a 20 percent increase in the number of households seeking services.
“The Berkshire Health Systems’ employees and medical staff have gone above and beyond to support our community during this public health crisis,” said Candace Winkler, president and CEO of Berkshire United Way. “We are especially grateful for BHS’s generosity at this difficult time, given the health system’s own significant financial needs. This gift proves that BHS’s care extends beyond the doctor’s office or the hospital room and touches the core of our community.”
Berkshire United Way and Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation have been able to leverage BHS’s gift to unlock an additional $100,000 in funding from the MA COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Berkshire Community Action Council to be directed toward food pantries and programs in the county for operations and capacity-building.
“We are lucky to be able to partner with BHS to deliver this much-needed relief to our Berkshire food pantries and the families they serve,” said Winkler.
About Berkshire Medical Center
Berkshire Medical Center, an affiliate of Berkshire Health Systems, is a 298-bed community teaching hospital serving the residents of Berkshire County and the neighboring areas. As the region’s leading healthcare provider, Berkshire Health Systems’ mission is to improve the health of all people in the Berkshires and surrounding communities, regardless of their ability to pay.
About the Berkshire County COVID-19 Fund
This fund provides flexible resources to Berkshire County 501c3 organizations working on the front lines with communities who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the economic consequences of this outbreak. Grants are designed to address gaps in services and increase capacity of organizations to meet basic needs of individuals and families.
Director of Media Relations, Berkshire Health Systems
Marketing & Communications Specialist, Berkshire United Way