By Stephen Dravis
11:07AM / Wednesday, August 11, 2021
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Throughout the month of July, the customers of Goodwill have been showing their good will.
On Tuesday, it paid off in a big way as Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, Inc., distributed more than $4,000 the non-profit collected on behalf of agencies that serve children and families in the region.
Berkshire Family YMCA Executive Director Jessica Rumlow was on hand at Goodwill's Dalton Avenue location to accept a check for nearly $2,000 from Goodwill Director of Community Development Maryam Kamangar.
"This is an amazing thing that Goodwill's done for us," Rumlow said. "It shows the partnership between both the organizations and highlights what we're doing — keeping kids healthy, keeping kids active and providing a safe space for them.
"During COVID-19 and the 2020 pandemic, the Y never shut its doors. We continued to provide childcare and youth programming throughout that time. So this comes at a perfect time, when the need in our community is even higher than before."
Kamangar said Goodwill has been doing what it can to help satisfy other community needs since the pandemic began. That included sharing some of the organization's infrastructure with local food banks throughout Northern Berkshire County.
"Right away I called the food pantries and I said, look, the [Goodwill] truck is available because at that point many people had lost their jobs, and there was a growing need," she said. "For example, there are two food pantries in Williamstown. They have a van that only takes 2,500 pounds.
"This way, with our truck, now they're ordering 7,000 to 8,000 pounds of food."
Kamangar said the Goodwill Industries truck made runs to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield on behalf of food pantries in Adams, North Adams and Williamstown. To date, nearly 400,000 pounds of food have been delivered by Goodwill drivers.
Goodwill's "Let's Keep Our Children Healthy" campaign was a natural companion to that outreach.
Throughout the month of July, Goodwill customers who purchased an apple or a sandwich at prices ranging from $1 to $5 automatically contributed to the campaign.
In addition to the Berkshire Family YMCA, beneficiaries included Childcare of the Berkshires in Lee, Greenagers in Great Barrington and the Boys and Girls Club of Rutland, Vt.
In the case of the Pittsfield-based Berkshire Family YMCA, which also serves locations in North Adams and Bennington, Vt., the Goodwill donation will help support the agency's annual appeal, Rumlow said.
In a typical year, Berkshire Family YMCA collects between $60,000 and $80,000 to help support the $250,000 in scholarships the Y distributes to families in need in any given year, she said.
"We give up to 50 percent off all our youth programs and membership," Rumlow said. "It's part of our mission. … We basically have the policy that we're not going to turn anyone away for the inability to pay. So our scholarship goes to support anyone in need in the community."
About 80 percent of the Berkshire Family YMCA's childcare families receive financial support either through state vouchers or Y scholarships, she said.
"This is going to help us make sure that we continue our mission in providing opportunity for the youth in our community to stay healthy and active," Rumlow said.