To the editor of THE EAGLE:

I have recently become involved with a local organization called CO-ACT, Inc. (Community Organizing for Action). Since learning of the work it is doing, I had to become involved. The executive director of CO-ACT is Paul Deslauriers who founded this nonprofit, 501 (c) (3) organization in 2009.

An important part of CO-ACT’s mission is to alleviate the plight of the homeless in our community. While we are all enjoying these summer months in the beautiful Berkshires, we don’t see the most vulnerable among us. They are without shelter, food, employment, and, most of all hope that anyone will care enough to help change their situation. The Pearl Street Center, housed within the First United Methodist Church at 55 Fenn Street, is striving to change that. The center provides counseling, workforce development, computer-access, a mailing address, shower facilities, snacks, socialization, and most of all, hope.

As fund-raising chair, I have become dedicated to helping CO-ACT raise money for a transitional housing facility for the homeless Berkshire County women, children, and teen-age girls. These individuals are among our most vulnerable population, primarily due to domestic/sexual violence. Where do they go when all shelters within our city are full? Where do they go to get the respect they deserve? Many are forced to "couch-hop" from place to place for their personal safety. Many teen-age girls are living in cars because they must leave their homes due to abuse, all while trying to complete their education.

Last Saturday evening we had our first fund-raising event at the First United Methodist Church with the proceeds going to meet our initial goal of $20,000 to open this housing facility. The turnout was fantastic and I want to thank everyone who attended for their support. Frank and Lynn LaRagione donated their time and effort to put this chicken parmesan dinner on for everyone. Without their selfless efforts in support of our cause, this could not have happened.

If you are willing to help us reach our goal, through donations or personal involvement, please call the Pearl Street Center, (413) 445-4445 or (413) 232-7888, leave your name and number and we will get back to you. Paul would be more than willing to speak to you or your group if you’d like more information. Our website is www.co-act.org

Let’s keep our beautiful Berkshires truly beautiful. Eradicating homelessness begins with each of us.

BELLE O’BRIEN

Pittsfield

The writer is chairperson of the CO-ACT fundraising committee.