WELCOME TO THE JEWISH WOMEN'S FOUNDATION OF THE BERKSHIRES

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ABOUT US

Our Mission

In the spirit of tikkun olam, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires is dedicated to sharing Jewish values by addressing needs in the community and supporting social action. Each member pledges $500 annually enabling us to fulfill our mission by providing local organizations with funds to address these needs.

 

Why is This Our Mission?
Berkshire County is one of the poorest counties in Massachusetts. Too many of our neighbors experience food insecurity and cannot pay for adequate fuel in winter. Berkshire residents also lag in health outcomes and length of life compared to those in the rest of the State.

 

How Do We Fulfill Our Mission?  
We give back by

  • Making grant awards to Berkshire organizations that increase access to food, housing and other essentials; promote self-sufficiency; and empower youth and young adults
  • Contributing toward ongoing support for the Jewish community and our neighbors for camp scholarships for Jewish youth, the PJ library, BMC Care Navigation, and a taxi voucher program  for seniors
  • Distributing relief funds for emergent needs
  • Tutoring at-risk elementary school children through Project Connection

 

Our History
Under the leadership of Jane Glaser, JWF was started in 2009 by a small group of women moved by the needs in the Berkshire community. Collaborating with the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, our founders realized that they could help support some of Federation’s programs and also create new programs beneficial to the Berkshire community at large. As our membership grew, we established a Grants Program to solicit and review grant applications and recommend allocation of funds.

 

Our Leadership
 

Our Board Leadership
Co-Presidents: Phyllis Cohen and Robin Weiser
Secretary: Joan Ury
Immediate Past Presidents: Liz Jaffe and Elaine Silberstein
Grants Committee Co-Chairs: Denyse Adler and Toby Levine
Membership Committee Chair: Pommy Levy
Cultural Events Committee Chair: Joan Kleinman
Publicity Committee Co-Chairs: Susan Abramowitz and Marian Faytell
Volunteer Committee Co-Chairs: Liz Jaffe and Joan Ury
Board Members:
Judi Adler, Louise Galpern, Maddy Krauser,  Geri Liemer, Gayle Moskowitz, Helice Picheney, Anne Schnesel, Lauren Spitz, Audrey Weiner
Ex Officio:  Bobbi Cohn, Jane Glaser, Marilyn Katzman, Shirley Yohalem

 

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OUR GRANTS

Established in 2009, JWF, under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, has since granted a total of more than $400,000 to community organizations.

 

In 2021, JWF allocated $59,270 in community grants to 18 local organizations. Additionally, JWF supports camp scholarships; the PJ Library; cultural and social events for community members of all ages; food and fuel assistance; and a transportation network.

 

2020-2021 FUNDED GRANTEES

Addressing Basic Needs
Arts in Recovery for Youth provides an arts-based, no-cost youth suicide prevention program. www.airyedu.com

 

Berkshire Bounty provides nutritious food to those experiencing food insecurity in our communities. www.berkshire-bounty.org

Berkshire Community Diaper Project ensures access to diapers for parents who struggle to afford them. berkshirecommunitydiaperproject.com/

 

Berkshire Grown helps sustain local farmers and delivers fresh, healthy produce to hungry families and provides farmers with winter income to buy seeds and pay operating costs. In turn, these farmers deliver fresh produce during the harvest season to food pantries, community kitchens and CSAs. berkshiregrown.org

 

Berkshire Hills Regional School District Project Connection provides food filled backpacks on weekends and during vacations to students and their families who qualify for free meal benefits. Visit website.

 

Liz Jaffe (right), former JWF President and current Board member volunteering at Muddy Brook Elementary School during summer Project Connection

Berkshire South Regional Community Center provides a free, weekly community dinner. www.berkshiresouth.org

 

Greenagers engages teens and young adults with meaningful work in environmental conservation and addresses food insecurity by installing vegetable gardens free for income-eligible families. www.greenagers.org

Greenagers Volunteers

Guthrie Center offers weekly free community lunch for local residents with financial and other challenges. www.guthriecenter.org

 

Roots Rising increases the buying power of residents with SNAP and other benefits by providing matching funds and engaging Pittsfield youth in work on farms, in food pantries and at the farmer’s market. www.rootsrising.org

 

JWF Volunteers delivering food in the time of Covid

Promoting Self Sufficiency
Berkshire Area Health Education Center trains community interpreters to assist immigrant families with access to community services. www.berkshireahec.org

 

Berkshire Center for Justice provides free legal services to low-income residents in collaboration with other programs in the County. berkshirecenterforjustice.org

 

Berkshire Family and Individual Resources provides at-home services for children and adolescents 3-21 years of age with Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (DASD). www.bfair.org


Berkshire Immigrant Center provides free citizenship examination preparation classes to immigrants. berkshireic.org

BIC client becomes a citizen

Community Health Programs addresses the parenting needs of families in the community giving caregivers the tools they need to be effective parents and to treat their children with respect while enacting positive discipline techniques. chpberkshires.org

Enrichment

Barrington Stage offers a Playwright Mentoring Project for Berkshire County youth 13-19 years of age to develop life skills and positive self-image. www.barringtonstageco.org

 

Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires provides recreational therapy for special needs children. www.bgcberkhires.org

 

Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center/Girls Inc. of the Berkshires supports the Eureka! program that introduces young women to STEM careers through a supportive environment, STEM summer camp at MCLA and mentoring from caring, understanding adults. brighamcenter.org

 

Railroad Street Youth Project provides group mentoring specifically designed for students of color. It expands horizons of young people by providing them with the sense of community and providing the support they need outside of schools and family. rsyp.org

Youth from Railroad Street Youth Project at Fenway Park

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JOIN US

With over 175 members who are passionate about giving back to the Berkshire Community, JWF uses the power of philanthropy to contribute to the betterment of our neighbors. The Berkshires has so many cultural and natural wonders that it is hard to believe it is one of the poorest counties in Massachusetts. But our reach is limited by available resources, which are dependent on the size of its membership. 
 

Your annual $500 contribution supports our grants program and enables us to help non-profit organizations improve the lives of our neighbors. All members are invited to serve on the Grants Committee, which decides how the funds are distributed.

Want to Get Involved?

There are many opportunities to become involved both within JWF and in the organizations JWF supports through our grants program.

 

  • Events Committee
  • Grants Committee
  • Membership Committee
  • Publicity Committee
  • Volunteer Committee

To learn more, contact JWFberkshires@gmail.com and you will be contacted by the appropriate Committee Chair.

NEWS - Participate in Our Events

 

Culture and Conversation

Let’s stay together during the winter months with these upcoming ZOOM events.

 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at 4:30 pm
Zoom Interview with Danielle Friedman, award winning journalist, and the author of Let’s Get Physical.

Discover the fascinating hidden history of contemporary women’s fitness culture and how exercise evolved from a beauty tool “pitched” to lose weight to today’s view whereby exercise is accepted as a path to mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

Wednesday March 9 at 4:30 pm
Virtual Tour of the Hill-Stead Museum, a National Historic Landmark located in Farmington, Connecticut, in our own backyard!

 

A well preserved 1901 mansion set on a 152-acre estate, Hill-Stead is filled with masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Whistler, Manet, and Cassatt plus other treasures. This virtual tour will whet your appetite to visit in person.

 

$72 for the series. Click here to register.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

SAVE THE DATE:

JWF Annual Lunch, June 24, 2022 at the Pittsfield County Club

 

2021 PAST EVENTS

Annual Brunch – Held August 2021 at Shaker Village and attended by more than 135 participants

(second from left) Jane Glaser, Brunch Co-Chair & Speakers Lauren Smith, Director of Community Relations and Development at Fairview Hospital and Jane Ralph, Executive Director, Construct, Inc.

JWF Women at our Annual Luncheon Meeting in 2021 including new members Susan Friedman (second from left), and Linda Noonan (far right)

Meals of Hope On Sunday, September 19, 2021 147 volunteers enthusiastically packed 25,000 meals for distribution by the western Massachusetts foodbank to individual food banks.

Volunteers at tables at Berkshire South Regional Center packing boxes of meals for the food insecure

Team Muddy Brook preparing Meals of Hope food packs

Boxes on their way to the Western Massachusetts Food Bank for distribution to food insecure families in the Berkshires

MEMBER TESTIMONIALS

“I’m so inspired by JWF’s grants. The needs are so great, I feel it’s incumbent upon each of us to do whatever we can to help alleviate problems facing so many in our community.
Pat Fingeroth

 

“Joining the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires has added another wonderful dimension to my life in the Berkshires. It has given me an opportunity to give back to this magical community. I feel it is truly a gift to be a member of the Foundation. To be able to be a part of all the important work it does for so many people.”
– Pommy Levy

 

“I’m proud to be a charter member of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires as we’ve done so much to help our less fortunate neighbors in both the Jewish and greater communities. Most people think of this area as one of arts and culture without realizing that it is actually one of the poorest in the region.  Helping to combat food and housing insecurity, promoting education, empowering women, as well as caring for Jewish youth and seniors represent a small sampling of what we’ve accomplished. Working with other bright and caring women towards tikkun olam is one of the most gratifying experiences ever.”
- Bobbi Cohn

 

 “As a privileged second homeowner who enjoys all the cultural and social blessings of the Berkshires, I was unaware and ignorant of the financial and emotional stresses that many residents face in their daily lives. Only after I volunteered at the Muddy Brook School’s tutoring program and joined the Jewish Women’s Foundation Grants Committee did I become cognizant of the needs of people in the community who are struggling and are largely invisible to us.  They are experiencing food insecurity, employment instability, a deficit of skills and resources to help them cope with huge ongoing pressures, made more acute during this pandemic period.”
- Elaine Cohen

 

I found that packing boxes for Meals of Hope so personally rewarding - I couldn’t stop smiling when I left. This organization is so focused on its goals - I think most people are unaware of the level of poverty in this area. Kudos to our organizers.” 
- Sue Sussman

2020 GRANT TESTIMONIALS

Berkshire Baby Box
“We received a very generous donation to help support our efforts with keeping Berkshire Baby Box as an all-county initiative for all new families in Berkshire County.  The timing was perfect as we had just received an invoice from the Halo Sleep Sack folks for $3,000.  So far, we have been able to keep our inventory strong and we look forward to continuing to do so. This donation helps considerably!!!”
- Hinda and Bill Bodinger, Co-Executive Directors

 

Berkshire Immigrant Center
“On behalf of Team BIC, I want to say that we are deeply grateful to the Jewish Women’s Federation for the generous $5,000 grant! We unexpectedly had another bump in student enrollment in the citizenship examination preparation class at the end of the summer, so our Education Coordinator’s hours increased yet again. Since August she has been working 18 hours per week to fit in all BIC’s new civics students instead of the budgeted 16 hours. Nine of these students took their citizenship tests earlier this week! The JWF Grant is BIC’s largest in support of our civics program. Thank you for your continued partnership and this amazing gift.”
- Michelle Lopez, Executive Director

CONTACT US

196 South Street Pittsfield, MA 01201
phone: 413-442-4360
email: jwfberkshires@gmail.com

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