For nearly a century, Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center has provided guidance, support, and advocacy for girls and their families. As one of Berkshire County’s largest social service organizations, the Brigham Center has touched countless lives through its wide range of programs and services.
The Brigham Center had its beginning on Bank Row in 1911 as the Young Women’s Home Association, with 37 girls in its first days. It re-located to East Street in 1924. Facilities were expanded, first with a gymnasium and tennis court. In 1929, Camp Witawentin became the first resident camp for area girls, later joined by Camp Stevenson, the day camp.
With General Electric providing the lead gift, the present building was opened in 1958, with the attached swimming pool. The Brigham Center continued to provide strong home economics & sports opportunities for girls, learning that girls needed new skills for long-term economic security. Adding value to community and market meant stronger, smarter & bolder supports, training and education.
During the 1970s, the Brigham Center responded to changing community needs by implementing counseling and childcare programs, programs for single and teen parents, & other social services. In the last decade, the Brigham Center has expanded to develop athletics and more programs for adolescent girls. The gymnasium & swimming pool were restored.
What We Offer: Our Programs Are Our Products
During 2008, Berkshire United Way implemented an enhanced method for assessing community needs, tracking progress and communicating results. BUW sought broad based community input to develop an aspiration for the county and identify community needs and priorities to be considered for BUW investments. The aspiration, “Making Berkshire County a community of hope and opportunity, where every individual and family can live, work and thrive” is both inspirational and achievable. With strong community guidance as well as leveraging resources with the quality work completed by the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education and the Berkshire Blueprint, BUW believes that the best way to support this aspiration is to invest in the following priorities and outcomes:
Helping Children and Families Succeed: supported by efforts to Advance Health and Wellness: All children will arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and all young adults will successfully transition to work, higher education or training.
Promoting Financial Stability and Independence: All individuals are empowered to define and achieve their goals for financial independence and career success.
Meeting Basic Needs: Individuals move from a crisis situation, where their basic needs are met by the “safety net” of service providers, to independently meeting their own needs and, individuals demonstrate an increased ability to manage family resources to meet basic needs (food, shelter, and healthcare) and/or plan to address other financial priorities.
While the Brigham Community Center in some way touches upon all priorities our primary focus is on Helping Children and Families succeed. We respond to challenges with solutions – strengthening programs and services for changing local needs – and by actively seeking to serve a wider population through outreach programs and partnerships.
We use positive Youth Development practices to provide supports to young people as they build their capacities and strengths to meet personal and social needs. We provide services and opportunities to support children and youth to develop a sense of a competency, worth, connective ness and empowerment. This approach is not a way to “fix troubled kids.” Rather, it is about people, programs, institutions and systems that provide all youth, “troubled” or not, with the supports and opportunities they need to empower themselves. The Brigham Community Center has skilled program staff that can provide such services to its children, youth and families..