How you can help those hardest hit by Irene in Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont

Here’s a post and thread with suggestions for places you can donate that will actively help the rural people and farm families worst affected by Irene. Please feel free to share it, and to offer your own suggestions if you know of any resources.

If you are in the hilltowns around here and need help, please feel free to comment here, too – someone may have (or know of) resources to help.

If you don’t have a Facebook account but have something to offer – or have need of help other locals might be able to address – comment on this post and I’ll copy & paste it for you, or email me at gilgablog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Here’s the text of the post so it exists off Facebook, too:

Friends, if you can help, please do. The relentlessly urban focus of the major media outlets erases those who have taken the worst hit and who most need your help. In the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts and into Southern Vermont, that’s people in the hilltowns and farm families.

Feel free to add ideas of anywhere donations will go directly to families, individuals, and farms in Franklin, Berkshire, Hampshire and Windham Counties ( ie: not national/State pools of money that go to Boston, and not programs that inevitably funnel everything into Springfield, but help for local, rural people in the towns worst affected by Irene).

To ensure your help doesn’t just get automatically folded into the numerous urban programs unavailable to those in the most damaged areas,  please consider specifying that your donation be specifically used to help rural communities affected by Irene.

* * *

Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Red Cross

The Red Cross provides disaster response services to people in Central and Western Massachusetts 7 days a week, 24 hours a day through local chapter Community Offices.

Green Mountain Chapter of the Red Cross

The Green Mountain Chapter of the American Red Cross…serving residents in Southern Vermont. …Windsor, Windham and Bennington Counties. …disaster relief, health and safety training and service to the armed forces for all 75 years at multiple locations.

Western MA Food Bank

Partners with more than 400 local food pantries, meal sites, shelters, residential programs, and youth and elder care centers to bring at 7.6 million pounds of food to more than 108,000 people facing hunger across the diverse urban and rural communities in Western Massachusetts each year.

The Vermont Food Bank

Though a network of 280 food selves, meals sites, senior centers, shelters, after-school programs, the Vermont Foodbank runs programs that help feed as many as 86,000 Vermonters who need food assistance.

Hilltown Community Development Corporation Social Services programs

Hilltown CDC seeks to support the highest possible quality of life for the most vulnerable residents of our Hilltown community. We work to bring social services to the Hilltowns through organizing, advocacy, resource development and direct program administration. (Includes a food pantry, elder health programs)

CISA/Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture

Since 1993 CISA has been working to strengthen the connections between farms and the community, by creating and running programs that link farmers, community members, and markets.

The Vermont Community Foundation

A charitable foundation in Central VT supporting community development of many kinds, the VCF has established two sepcific Irene funds and will be disbursing money promptly as & where needed:  The Farm Disaster Relief Fund and The Special and Urgent Needs Fund

* * *

MA hilltown area food pantries helping individuals and families:

(Some of these may have been destroyed or too badly damaged to stay open, others may not be able to take donations of anything other than food – I suggest calling to find out how/if you can help)

The Center for Self-Reliance

Phone:                (413) 773-5029

Serving:              Western MA

Location:            3 ½ Osgood St., Greenfield

Hours:                 11am-6pm Mon; 11am-5pm Tues/Thurs/Fri


Description:        Provides enrolled individuals and families with an opportunity to choose from a supply of non-perishable food once a month; also hosts fresh food cooking demonstrations and nutrition workshops on preparing healthy and nutritious food on a limited budget. In summer, offers Greenfield Farmers Market Coupons to low-income families to help them purchase fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Huntington Food Pantry at PVAG

Phone:                 (413) 667-3166

Serving:               Blandford, Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, Russell, and Worthington

Location:             63 Chester Rd, Huntington

Hours:                 Thur 10-6pm

Hilltown Food Pantry

Phone:                 (413) 268-7578

Serving:               Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington

Location:              Town Offices, Route 9, Goshen

Hours:                 Weds. 1-3 pm, Third Wednesday of the month 1-6 pm


Note:  Residents of some hilltowns may choose to utilize the Northampton Survival Center instead but must pick one site or the other.

Northampton Survival Center

Phone:                 (413) 586-6564

Serving:               The hilltowns served by the Hilltown Food Pantry, plus Easthampton, Florence, Hadley, South Hadley, Hatfield, Haydenville, Leeds and Northampton

Location:              265 Prospect St., Northampton

Hours:                  Mon/Wed/Fri 11am-2pm; Tues/Thurs 4-7pm


West County Food Pantry

Phone:                (413) 773-5029

Serving:              Western MA

Location:            7 Main St. Shelburne Falls

Hours:                4pm-5:30pm every third Wed.

Description:        Provides enrolled individuals and families with an opportunity to choose from a supply of non-perishable food once a month.

* * *

Specific resources for the Brattleboro area/Windham County:

Donations of food, personal care items and cleaning supplies:

Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center at 60 South Main St., Brattleboro or call 802-257-5415.

United Way has set up a page for Windham County:

 To make a financial donation to United Way of Windham County’s Long-term Disaster Relief fund, visit and designate “long-term disaster relief” or call 802-257-4011.

* * *

Help for animals and livestock:

[Resources for rescue and foster assistance for farm animals are thin on the ground in the best of times. If you know of anything, please comment!]

Windham County Humane Society (Brattleboro, VT – and right on the river toward Newfane: I have not heard if they are okay or not but know they’ll need a ton of help in the coming weeks)

Berkshire County Humane Society (Based in Pittsfield, but serves the whole mountainous region between the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires – Savoy, Florida, Peru and other extremely remote towns)

Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society (You can ask about specifying the funds for Irene animals from rural parts of the region, the Leverett shelter location, and/or the SPAN program fostering animals while people are in shelters: keep in mind that the Springfield facility  is not realistically accessible to rural hilltown people)

Monadnock Humane Society (Serves southern New Hampshire/the outside easterly edge of this region)

T.J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center (Also primarily urban/Springfield-focused, but they may end up responsible for many Irene animals and they do amazing work)

* * *

Vermonters: Senator Sanders has put up a very specific and useful FAQ on his page –

Rebuilding Vermont After Irene: Questions and Answers

* * *

Some images from the area:

Hurricane Irene batters the hill towns in Western MA By John Elder Robison

Hurricane Irene in Western Mass

Video from Shelburne Falls

The Connecticut River Watershed, where the 5-10 inches of rain in a few hours blew out all the rivers

A sense of what’s happening in Vermont (in Southern VT, many towns between Brattleboro and Bennington – South Newfane, Wilmington, others – are partially or completely destroyed)

In Rockingham VT, an emergency responder who is also a horseman did it old-school: he and his trusted horse carried medicine where EMS trucks could not go. Very dangerous, and very well done by both of them!

Below, Chelsea Gay from Jericho Settlers Farm kayaks a sheep to dry land in Richmond, VT on Monday, August 29, 2011.

Photo by IAN THOMAS JANSEN-LONNQUIST, for the Burlington Free Press, where you can see many, many more photographs of the devastation in Vermont.


UPDATE: How to Apply for FEMA Disaster Relief in Vermont, via Bernie Sanders


One response to “How you can help those hardest hit by Irene in Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont

  1. Pingback: Atmospherics | Gilgablog

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