Silver Lining Stories from Berkshire Nonprofits

Silver Lining Stories from Berkshire Nonprofits

We recently requested that nonprofits in our network take a moment to reflect on the positive outcome(s) over the past few difficult months. Click here to add your voice. Read on for a few success stories… 


For years the Bidwell House Museum has been wanting to expand and improve the educational signage on our trails but it was always a lower priority than work on the interior of the house. With the house closed in 2020 we focused our programming efforts on the gardens and grounds, expanding our Native American Trail, creating an Outside the House Tour with map and scavenger hunt and increasing the number of educational signs on the trials. This expansion will add to the richness of our house tours when we do re-open and we are so happy to have a way to connect with visitors even while the interior of the house is closed.
Heather Kowalski, The Bidwell House Museum


Our organization supports communities in making smart energy choices. With home audits halted and our Cooler Communities events postponed, we were wondering how we could assist especially school students and those on lower incomes during COVID 19. When we heard that cooling centers were not able to open during the heatwave, we decided to purchase neck coolers that keep the wearer cool for hours, just using a little water. These were distributed to two of our main audiences: low-income residents and students at public schools, who do not have a/cs at home. We also decided to hold a focus group among teachers, students, and school administrators to learn from them how we can create inclusive and impactful virtual or in-person events next year. Both these actions really helped strengthen our relationships and build a stronger bond and determination to work together through these difficulties. Like a friend of mine, who teaches about creativity once said: Creativity flourishes among restrictions. If everything is easy or possible, it stalls….
Ulrike Nagel, Ener-g-save/ Cooler Communities


At the start of 2020 Walking Our Talk circles were gaining traction with new groups set to start in Great Barrington, Pittsfield, Lenox, Connecticut, and Columbia County, NY. Seeing our work take hold in our community filled me with gratitude, excitement and satisfaction. So many hours spent manifesting a vision was coming to fruition. And then, well we all know what happened…then.

Our model of in-person connection, meant to guide women into the fullest expression of themselves, was turned upside down, as was the rest of the country and world. What would we do? How could we possibly sustain a business model built on contact, communication and connection if we couldn’t even be within 6 feet of another person? For a moment, it seemed impossible. And then, well let me tell you what happened…then.

Then, women miraculously found a way to come together. And in ways that we could not have imagined before. The Zoom online platform allowed WOT to reach beyond the Berkshires with sisters now joining from Colorado and North Carolina. We welcomed more elders than ever into our circles now that they did not have to contend with snowy, late-night drives. Our facilitators learned how to create a loving, online “we space” for our new and returning sisters to share strength, vulnerability, and insight, honoring each other through the most challenging time that any of us could remember.

Then, our online platform allowed us to react in real time as the nation was stunned, and subsequently spurred into action by the murder of George Floyd. WOT held an online circle for sisters to come together, share resources, and begin to understand more fully the history of racial violence in our nation, oft times overlooked or misunderstood by our caucasian sisters.

If you had asked me in December 2019 what I was most excited for, I would have talked about expansion, new enrollment, new members, and our new non-profit business model. Now, looking back over the last six months, I am floored at how strong, how resilient, how connected women truly are. And, while I and the rest of the nation mourn what has been lost, I find that I do not have words to express the awe at learning, more deeply, more powerfully and more joyfully than ever, that which I already knew: Connection is the key to our health and happiness. When we choose to provide a safe and solid structure, our desire for connection can and will overcome whatever monumental challenges might face us.

To learn more about Walking Our Talk and to join an upcoming circle, please visit: https://www.walkingourtalk.org/

Jaimee Christinat-Castillo and Mary Campbell, Walking Our Talk