Our church, like many others in this county, encounters people in emergency need of food, gas or lodging, nearly every month. Often they have lost their jobs, relationships have ended and homes are broken, they are hungry, with children, and out of funds. Our church office receives those who are in need of help.
The Northern Berkshire Ministry Fund was formed to effectively and immediately respond to this ongoing situation in North County, on an emergency basis. Individuals in need may not access the system more often than once a year, but assistance, in the form of vouchers redeemable at participating local places of business, are issued to provide food, gasoline and a night’s stay in a local motel. Participating area churches donate to the fund, from which the vouchers are drawn, and merchants are repaid.
Those seeking assistance are asked to provide a Photo ID or a convincing alternative with a North Berkshire or traveler address. The names of individuals assisted are entered into a database, against which we check to ensure annual eligibility.
In Williamstown, we are thankful for the Howard Johnson, Cozy Corner and Northside motels, Carpinello’s, Stop & Shop, Subway, and Wild Oats, for being participating vendors. Thanks also to the Williamstown Police Department for issuing vouchers. St. John’s Episcopal Church on Park Street is also a committed church partner in the voucher program.
First Church has been a participant since the inception of the program in 2012. We hope that next year our Outreach Team will continue to fund an annual donation to the Voucher Program. We have received many heartfelt thank-yous from those we have helped, and we rejoice in their ability to move forward another day with food, shelter and transportation.