BMC donations coordinator is inspired by outpouring, and she's inspiring others

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PITTSFIELD — Jennifer Bailey is getting photos of the family dog.

That's how close she's grown to the many donors who've flooded Berkshire Medical Center with food and other gifts that keep doctors, nurses and other workers nourished in body and spirit during the pandemic.

Coordinating all this is now her full-time job, amid so vast an outpouring.

"It just started with a couple of donations," said Bailey, who started her new job as Patient Experience Specialist, just a few weeks before the crisis struck.

Donations grew fast, and so did the complexity of arranging deliveries and pickups of meals from countless restaurants, or the people who give money to order them. There is also the steady flow of gifts that include care boxes, flowers, lip balm and handmade cards.

"The list is large," she said.

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The hospital is still at the center of a coronavirus outbreak that began in late February and early March. Even as infections and deaths in the county wane, fears of a resurgence as the lockdown eases means continued stress for hospital workers. Residents and businesses are grateful, and are still pouring the love on thick.

"Our community is still reaching out to me on a daily basis," she said.

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People will often say they want meals or other gifts delivered to certain units. And Bailey said that food comes from restaurants in every part of the county, and even New York state.

Bailey, a Berkshire native who lives in Windsor, says the experience has moved and inspired her. The generosity and support of her fellow humans has banished fear. The joy she feels is energizing.

"It's something I never thought I'd experience," she said. "It's truly an honor."

In her spare time, the 49-year-old wife and mother of a college student, runs, does yoga, and meditates.

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She's also inspiring others.

Her supervisor, Sarah Wright, says Bailey's commitment to these relationships with donors is "truly remarkable," and "has touched us all."

But it is Bailey who says her life is forever altered.

"I've met people who will be with me forever," she said of all the arranging that has pulled her deep into people's lives. "I can't put it into words — it makes me cry ... I've got pictures of their dogs."

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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