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Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015

Building family bonds through shared memories

Building family bonds through shared memories

For too many of New York’s families, simple times of togetherness are missing: eating dinner around the kitchen table, getting ice cream after team practices, building snow forts, family nights, and celebrating birthdays. When families do not have the resources to be together or play together, they are at even greater risk of breaking apart.

imageBerkshire’s prevention programming is filling the gap in “together time” for these families. For example, through Berkshire’s Home Run Program, a partnership with the Hamilton County Prevention team, we offer programs, activities, and trips to at-risk youth with no charge to their families.

“Students in the Home Run Program participate in activities that they may not have been able to do on their own because of cost and/or lack of transportation,” says Kristina Zeis, Program Coordinator at Berkshire. “Through these trips and activities, we’ve seen students improve communication with their families. Witnessing family bonds strengthen is heartwarming for our staff working directly with them,” she added.

Berkshire offers these types of activities all year long. “In the winter, we go snowshoeing and hiking, and in the imagespring and summer, the children enjoy horseback riding and rafting, as well as other activities,” Zeis explained. “We take the kids beyond their own neighborhood for an otherwise unaffordable outing. The families have a wonderful bonding experience and a happy shared memory.”

The activities also build self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. “Katarina was among the students we took on a rafting trip down the Hudson River last summer. She was apprehensive to be on the water at first but came with us. We were so proud of her, and she continues to talk about her exciting experience to this day!” Zeis told us.

Last year, Berkshire’s family preservation programs served 5,000 children and their family members across New York State. Of the families participating in these programs, 97 percent stayed together.

Enriched programs for families become all the more important in summer months, when kids are out of school while parents still work. With support from donors, Berkshire can provide the resources and help families need to stay united and build stronger bonds.

If you would like to support our Family Preservation programming, please visit and click on the “Donate Now” button. You can then learn more by selecting “Support Keeping Families Together.”

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