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Kim and James Taylor donate $350,000 to BMC in COVID-19 fight

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PITTSFIELD — A $350,000 donation by Kim and James Taylor launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund for Berkshire Health Systems, bolstering efforts by Berkshire Medical Center to confront the intensifying pandemic as the number of cases expands in the county.

A joint announcement Monday by the hospital and the Taylors stated that the new relief fund will support the 298-bed hospital's emergency operations during the public health crisis.

Citing their global travels because of their careers, the Taylors explained that "while we also spend a good deal of time in Boston, our favorite place to live our lives is Berkshire County. We are so lucky and grateful to have found a home here. In this time of great uncertainty and dire threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all called upon to support our heroic health care providers. Their contribution and sacrifice cannot be overstated."

In a phone interview from Montana, where the family is winding up their annual spring break vacation with twin sons Rufus and Henry, the singer-songwriter explained that "we are lucky enough to have a giving agenda every year. When it comes to something like this, when you see so many people really hurt and making major sacrifices, this falls on the shoulders of our health care providers and first responders, and we must help them."

"The generosity of Kim and James Taylor during this time of crisis is just one more example of their tremendous kindness and their love for the Berkshires," said David Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems, in a prepared statement. "Their support of BMC is truly a gift to our community, which depends on the hospital to rise to the occasion and provide the health care we need, especially at this critical moment."

Last week, the Taylors donated $1 million to Massachusetts General Hospital's Emergency Preparedness Fund to fight the coronavirus pandemic. James Taylor was born at the Boston hospital in 1948, where his father, Isaac, was chief resident.

"Hospital personnel are asked to walk the talk," Taylor told The Eagle. "This crisis brings out that there are altruistic people and self-centered people. Thank God for the ones who answered the call to altruism."

"We have been frequent flyers at BMC," said Kim Taylor. "With twin athletic boys, the odds are one of them is injuring himself. James and I have also availed ourselves of the ER for tick bites to broken ankles."

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Taylor said she and the family "have found everyone at BMC to be extraordinarily professional, highly competent and compassionate. We're very lucky to have this resource in Pittsfield. We're pulling for all the health care workers there throughout this unprecedented health crisis."

"We share the Taylors' admiration for our doctors, nurses and all our staff who are on the front lines of this fight." Phelps added in a prepared statement. "The COVID-19 Relief Fund will help us to continue our efforts to provide health care workers with the resources they need to treat and contain the novel coronavirus." 

James Taylor pointed out that "Kim is the main mover and shaker on these particular donations. We moved here in 2000. Our first time at BMC was when Rufus was 6 and struck his head on the molding in our living room while roughhousing. We took him in for stitches, and that was the beginning of the typical accidents childhood and family life bring. We've always thought of it as the community hospital that was there for us."

Recalling other visits to the hospital, Taylor noted that "when Henry broke his wrist and collarbone on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, we always knew immediately where to go. I've gone there for physical therapy after a joint replacement and shoulder injury, for various emergencies, it's part of our lives."

The Taylors' homestead is in the town of Washington, and they also have a home in Brookline, near Milton Academy, where their twin sons, 18, are seniors. Taylor has been a regular at Tanglewood since 1974 and recorded his three most recent albums, "October Road," "Before This World" and the new "American Standard" at their studio, The Barn, where he recorded "Break Shot," his recent Audible Original retrospective detailing his first 21 years. His "One Man Band" album and a PBS special were recorded and filmed at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield in 2007.

Kim Taylor joined the Boston Symphony press office in 1979 and served for two decades as director of public relations and marketing for the BSO and as a close adviser to Seiji Ozawa and John Williams. She married James on Nov. 18, 2001, having been introduced a few years earlier by Williams. She is now a trustee of the BSO.

To support Berkshire Health Systems in its fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), visit berkshirehealthsystems.org/COVID-19ReliefFund.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter@BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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