There has been a patch of blue in the grey skies of the pandemic for DLE Advisory Board Member Michelle Lopez.
In her role at the helm of the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Michelle is overseeing the largest donor outreach in the Pittsfield (MA)-based organization’s 24-year history—its COVID relief campaign.
Over the past year, $430,000 has been raised from hundreds of generous individuals as well as organizations such as the Berkshire Taconic Foundation, enabling Michelle and her team to provide assistance to 162 households of immigrants who are unable to receive stimulus checks or unemployment assistance.
“The generosity of this community has been astonishing,” beams Michelle. “This is a remarkable number, which happens to be $30,000 more than our annual operating budget. Donations are still being received today—almost a full year after the outbreak of COVID-19.”
The impetus for the special relief fund arose after the Center’s initial COVID-dedicated funds were consumed within two weeks of the March 2020 lock-down. “This inspired an increasing number of new donors to contact the Berkshire Immigrant Center, wanting to contribute to the cause.”
Michelle says that this experience is a professional highlight—one that underscores the importance of staying in touch and building relationships. “Networking is the first crucial step that opens the door for great opportunity. It is the foundation of powerful relationships that then must be built and maintained,” she attests.
The formulation of strong relationships depends a lot on “the little things,” Michelle adds, “like attending community events and meetings and just authentically supporting those whom you wish to collaborate with.”
She sums up, “The main goal is to keep a mutually beneficial relationship and collaboration at all times. Whether an individual is celebrating a personal accomplishment, or undergoing a dilemma, it is vital to reach out. You want to make sure that you are always keeping lines of communication open—and that those touch points are attended to.”