In keeping with its double philanthropic mission, WAM Theatre will be donating 25% of the box office proceeds from Ann to its 14th and 15th beneficiaries, The Denise Kaley Fund and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ 2018 Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI).
WAM’s donation to the Denise Kaley Fund will provide emergency grants for women with cancer in Berkshire County.
Fund Advisor Barbara Bonner, who co-founded the Fund with Kaley shortly before Denise’s death in 2010, took a moment to talk about the Fund and what this collaboration with WAM means to their work.
“I’ve known Kristen van Ginhoven for a long time. I love WAM and try to attend all your performances and events. Your beneficiary program has always had my heart,” Bonner smiled. “Your choice of ANN is such a perfect combination of topic and timing with all the women running for office this year. And the Fund is a great fit too, not only because Ann Richards battled esophageal cancer, but because she was always advocating to support women in difficult times. The choice to have us be co-beneficiaries with the Women’s Fund LIPPI program is another ideal combination.”
“In the very beginning the Fund started as a memorial tribute for Denise. She wanted to help women with cancer in Berkshire County who were in really dire financial straits,” Bonner explained. “But the need was so great and the response was so enormous that it took off immediately. Now we make grants weekly.”
“We” includes Bonner, Beth Rose, and Ellen Boyd and the grant requests they vote on come directly from community network representatives at Berkshire Medical Center and Fairview Hospital.
“The women we help are often single moms, elderly women on fixed incomes, or immigrants who don’t speak English and have no support networks,” Bonner explained, “This is daily ministry for all of us. It is hard work, because not all our women are survivors. Our mission is to ease their journey, no matter how long or short it lasts.”
“When we receive the requests for assistance the names have been blacked out. Everything is anonymous,” Bonner said. “Even the thank you notes we receive are redacted so we never know who we have helped. Occasionally a woman will step forward and volunteer to speak openly about the impact our work has had on her journey, but that is the only time we ever meet grant recipients.”
“Our community network partners do a wonderful job helping us reach cancer patients – if you are a woman with cancer in Berkshire County you’ve probably heard of us,” Bonner emphasized. “But otherwise we are very quiet here at the Fund. We don’t do galas to get the word out, so part of our mission is letting people know that we’re here to help. We have amazing supporters, but the need is always there.”
“We will put WAM’s gift to us to work immediately providing grants to Berkshire County women with cancer who need our help.”
About The Denise Kaley Fund
The Denise Kaley Fund for Berkshire Women with Cancer, administered through the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, supports the day-to-day living expenses of those living with cancer and have financial need. The fund covers the costs of transportation, housing, food, utilities, child care, insurance payments or anything that can help ease the struggles of women with cancer and allow them to focus on healing. The Denise Kaley Fund is endowed so that its support can continue annually and grow. The fund works hand-in-hand with social service agencies throughout the county so that support is offered exactly when and where it can do the most good.