Fund for Berkshire County Women with Cancer Gives its First Grants

The late Denise Kaley

(SHEFFIELD, Mass.) – Established in January 2010 by Denise Kaley and Barbara Bonner just a few weeks before Denise Kaley’s death from cancer, the Denise Kaley Fund for Berkshire County Women with Cancer supports the day-to-day living expenses of women in Berkshire County who are living with both cancer and extreme financial need.

A fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Fund spent its first year focusing exclusively on fundraising to build its endowment.  Now having received 707 gifts totaling  just over $40,000, the Fund has reached its endowment level of $25,000 to secure its future and to begin to do the work it was designed to do – give grants to women in need.

So far in 2011 the fund has made seven grants ranging from $500 to $1,000. The scope of its grants is as varied as repairing a broken furnace, paying a long overdue fuel bill, buying groceries, repairing a car, and paying unreimbursed medical expenses, long overdue rent and transportation to and from chemotherapy appointments.

The Fund’s Community Referral Network consists of three professionals (Cheryl Thomson, Advocacy for Access at Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington; Kathy Hart, RN, Director of Care Navigation Services at Berkshire Medical Center; and Beth Hinkley Mougin, Medical Social Worker at VNA and Hospice of Northern Berkshire) who work closely with local women with cancer to help them navigate systems for support.  They refer patients with the most urgent needs to the Fund’s Advisory Committee, consisting of Barbara Bonner, Beth Rose and Ellen Boyd, who review applications, usually the same day the requests are received.  Payments are made immediately.

Kathy Hart of Berkshire Medical Center sums up the need for the Denise Kaley Fund: “Often times, a woman’s treatment may be coming to an end, but she feels worse than ever; she may have lost her job in the course of her illness and her spouse may have lost his job in order to take care of her. The Fund eases their minds knowing some expenses will be covered during her recovery.”

Cheryl Thomson of Advocacy for Access at Fairview Hospital said, “The women who have received assistance are very grateful for the Denise Kaley Fund.  The Fund has helped these women with more than simply money. Although I didn’t know Denise personally, what is clear to me is that she reached out and gathered her strength from friends and family. What I think might have given her comfort is the fact that she could help others. The women I deal with are usually amazed that this fund was started by her in the final weeks of her life. They often say they hope they can do the same when this nightmare is over. I am always amazed at the strength those women possess to forge ahead.”


The Denise Kaley Fund is accepting donations in order to continue making grants to support women in Berkshire County with cancer. To donate, visit Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and select the Denise Kaley Fund from the drop-down menu

The Denise Kaley Fund is a fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.




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