iBerkshires.com reports over the past year, the Louison House shelter has taken in 76 individuals for transitional housing and 26 in the shelter's three permanent supportive housing facilities. The average stay for families in transitional housing has increased to 6 1/2 months and permanent supportive is ranging from two to five years.
Although the shelter services a large number of young families and children, aging baby boomers are becoming a growing concern.
Over the past year, Louison House has served 21,281 meals and taken in nine tons of food from pantries and Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. It averages $500 a month worth of food, about 85 percent of which is donated.
In total, the shelter has helped more than 800 people over the past year — from providing direct shelter, to connecting them with appropriate programs, to making calls on their behalf to helping pay their bills and manage their finances.
Executive Director Kathy Keeser said the shelter is committed to finding solutions for people in need, telling of a man who was not only homeless but who needed physical care. It took an emergency meeting at Berkshire Medical Center to find a place for him in a nursing home.
Keeser said as welcoming as Louison House wants to be, it really doesn't want people to have to depend on it.
Louison House is currently in good shape financially, with a projected deficit of $11,000 turning into $22,000 in the black to end the year. That's a far cry from three years ago when it almost closed. But the nonprofit is pushing for more fundraisers to support its programs, such as buying a personalized paver for the walkway at Louison House, a musical bingo event at Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill on Dec. 7 and a donation portal on the website.
Keeser reminded those gathered.."We're all just a few paychecks away ...," she said. "If we didn't have family or friends to turn to when something happened, we could be in the same situation."