Saturday June 16, 2012

I am writing to draw the attention of readers to the difficult situation that my brother, Jonathan Shapiro of Great Barrington, is facing and to ask for your help. Jonathan is a hard-working and highly responsible man who takes care of many properties in the Great Barrington area. He has an unblemished working ethic and is highly respected by those he works for.

On the night of April 14 my brother’s barn burned to the ground despite the combined efforts of several area fire departments. Located on my brother’s property on Egre mont Plain Road in Great Barrington, sandwiched be tween my brother’s home and my mother’s home, the barn was a massive structure. The cause of the fire remains unknown; it is assumed to have been electrical.

Loss of the barn carries with it an emotional loss for Jona than and the rest of the Sha piro clan. The barn held powerful memories for our family, dating back to 1972. That year, our parents purchased the barn and surrounding land and house -- which were then all parts of a working dairy farm -- and we took up residence as dairy farmers, selling our milk to Hood’s.

The physical loss of the barn and the financial implications of that loss are even more alarming and tragic. My brother stored a large amount of valuable equipment and supplies in the barn, all relating to his business, Caretaking Unlimited, of which he is the founder. As if this much loss was not enough, the barn also housed Jonathan’s extensive collection of antiques and other collectibles, which had both emotional and financial value. The eventual sale of these items was to be the core of Jonathan’s "retirement plan." He is facing huge financial losses from the destruction of his barn and all its contents. The majority of these losses will not be reimbursed by his insurance coverage.

In light of all this loss I am reaching out to Berkshire residents who may wish to help Jonathan, who has always been there for those in need. For information on how to help, please contact me at (617) 325-4493. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, from far and near, who has responded in such caring, compassionate and helpful ways to Jonathan and my mother, Hilda Banks Shapiro, in the wake of the fire. I am more than touched by the outreach of the community.

SERENA SHAPIRO

Boston