Ways to help


Berkshire Family And Individual Resources, the North Adams non-profit human service agency that assists adults and children with developmental disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury, is launching its first annual campaign.

Rich Weisenflue, BFAIR's executive director since 2000, said the goal of the campaign is not only to raise money for the nonprofit organization but also to raise awareness of the services BFAIR offers.

Since incorporation in 1994, BFAIR has been a leading service provider and advocate for adults and children with disabilities by tailoring its support to meet people's needs and to promote independence through employment, education and community involvement.

BFAIR serves more than 400 adults and children with disabilities and provides more than 200 jobs in Berkshire County.

The campaign will run through Feb. 13. Everyone who donates $50 or more before Feb. 13 will be entered to win a Valentine's Day gift basket from I Got Goodies, the candy and sweet shop on Main Street. The winner will be drawn Feb. 14.

Donations can be made online at www.bfair.org using PayPal through a secure site or by sending checks to BFAIR, 771 South Church St., North Adams, MA 01247. Information: (413) 664-9382.


Many older adults live alone and in poverty, and some willstruggle this holiday season. The local Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with retailers and community organizations to make sure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship through the Be a Santa to a Senior program.

"Seniors faced with medical bills and the high cost of living can find they have little left at the end of the year," said Donna Smith, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office serving Berkshire County. "That's not the only issue, though. Personal needs may become magnified for so many living alone with no one to share their problems."

With the support of Elder Services of Berkshire County, the Dalton Council on Aging, Lenox council for Aging, United Cerebral Palsy Association of Berkshire County, local retailers, volunteers and members of the community, the local Home Instead Senior Care office will collect and distribute gifts to seniors who otherwise spend the holiday alone.

The Be a Santa to a Senior program will run through Dec. 28. Christmas trees, which are up in the Berkshire West Athletic Club as well as Stop & Shop Supermarkets in Pittsfield and North Adams, have ornaments with the first names of the seniors and their respective gift requests.

Pick an ornament, buy items on the list and return them unwrapped to the store, along with the ornament attached. The Home Instead Senior Care office will then enlist the volunteer help of its staff, senior-care business associates, non-profit workers and others to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts.

For more information, visit www.beasantatoasenior.com or call (413) 422-0907.


National Alliance on Mental Illness Berkshire County is now registering participants for Family-to-Family Education classes starting in January.

Family-to-Family is a free 12-week course about illnesses of the brain such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, bi-polar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders.

It is designed primarily for family members, friends and caregivers of individuals with these illnesses.

Up-to-date information about diagnosis, medications, treatment options, crisis planning, accessing services, self-care, coping skills and the power of advocacy will be covered by trained volunteers.

All instruction and course materials are provided without cost to participants.

To sign up or find out more, contact Susan Kerr, executive director at the NAMIBC office, (413) 443-1666 or email namibc@namibc.org.


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