03 May Live United Celebration
Words from Cara Davis’ upon receiving United Way’s Dan Dillon Award at their recent volunteer appreciation.
I thank you, Berkshire United Way for this recognition. While it is a great honor for me to receive the Dan Dillon Award, I am keenly aware our work at Construct was not my work alone, but is the work of our board of directors, our staf and volunteers, our clients, and the whole, very generous community….
Tell story of first invitation to BUW
My heartfelt thanks to the boards of directors over the years, to Dan Dillon, to Kristine, and Julie, Nancy Stoll who is no longer at BUW, and all of the staff and volunteers who work so hard on behalf of our central and south Berkshire regions.
If I might say a few words…
It has been my experience, working first with a handful of families and others who were in crisis and walked in needing help with their emergency, and then over the years with our guests and all our constituents that a sense of isolation runs through the lives of many of the men, women and children who benefit not only from Construct, but also from the number of programs supported by Berkshire United. Whether it is homelessness, unemployment, food insecurity, or financial instability, low level literacy, lack of health or mental health care, single parenting, teen pregnancy or youth addicted to opioids…the common thread of feeling is isolation.
And one of the things I noticed over my years with Construct was the impact that relationship, and particularly, ties to community had on our clients and guests. When BUW came in to paint the shelter, when Berkshire Bank or Berkshire School, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Hevreh, the UUs or Lee FCC, Sheffield Plastics (Bayer) (now called something else) came to help with a project, no matter what they were asked to do, a building project, painting, gardening, cleaning…. it made a difference.
When girl scouts, youth groups and religious education classes made welcome kits with toiletries, each kit with a special note of affirmation or support from a little girl or little boy, it made our guests smile and forget for a moment he or she was alone..
A fresh baked pie dropped off anonymously, a lasagna dinner for 10 put together by a teen, a quilt that hangs in our front office embroidered with names of all who gave dollars to create the shelter, each and every private donation, corporate gift, foundation grant or BUW award were all ties back to community. Our constituents felt held.
Each gesture, each volunteer hour, each monetary gift meant to that person: I belong here. I am seen and heard. I can do this.
Before coming here today, I looked up the word COMMUNITY. You may all know this, but it was new to me: The word comes from two root words “com” meaning together and “munis” meaning to strengthen or to fortify. Community. We are our strongest when we are together. Two are better than one. When one falls, the other can lift up the one who is alone… and a threefold cord is not easily broken, wisdom from Ecclesiastes.
It is staggering to think about the numbers of men, women, youth and children – who might otherwise have been isolated by any complex situations in their lives –but who found help, resources in their community from member agencies of BUW, and programs supported by BUW – Thousands upon thousands over the years of my time with Construct. (possible number 500,000)
So the thought I’d like to leave you all with is this: When you give to your favorite non profit and when you give to BUW, you aren’t just giving money to teach a child to read, a youth to embrace healthy lifestyle choices, or a parent to balance a budget. YOU ARE CONNECTING with them, binding yourself to one another. You are in community with them. And strength of community lends strength to them until one day that unemployed woman, that single dad, that struggling youth can reach inside themselves to find their own power, to draw upon their own unique strengths.
So thank you BUW for holding our community.