Announcing Tour DaVita 2011 Village Service Day Projects

DaVita is a community first and a company second, and serving others is at the heart of what we do. Each year at Tour DaVita we kick off the Ride of a Lifetime with a Village Service Day to give back to the communities we have the opportunity to impact. The 2011 Village Service Day will take place on Saturday, September 17 in Great Barrington, Mass., the starting point for Tour DaVita 2011.

This year we are pleased to announce that we have selected 12 unique and very deserving non-profits located in the Great Barrington, Mass. community for Tour DaVita’s Village Service Day projects. There are a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and we encourage Tour riders as well as local residents to get involved!

To sign up for a volunteer shift, visit our online scheduling site below and be sure to select “Village Service Project Registration.”

Already registered with Shiftboard? Sign up here.

Not registered with Shiftboard yet? Register here.

Below is a list of the organizations that will be a part of the Tour DaVita 2011 Village Service Day:

Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP)

In 1999, the South Berkshire community was rocked by a series of drug- and alcohol-related teen deaths. A 19-year-old high school dropout, fed up with going to friends’ funerals, began attending meetings of concerned citizens and the idea of the RSYP was born. The small staff secured a small office on Railroad Street and, with the support of the community, began to create youth-inspired projects, workshops, performances and publications.

Today the RSYP thrives in the heart of the Great Barrington community and has earned the respect of local schools and businesses. Services and programs have evolved to meet the changing needs of youth ages 14-25. The Youth Drop-in Center is a meeting and activity headquarters, and is where RSYP offers counseling, mediation, referrals and advocacy services for young people in need.

Time and foot traffic have taken their toll on the 12-year-old Drop-in Center. DaVita and other sponsors have donated money and materials to give the center a fresh new face, but it needs your elbow grease to bring these improvements to life. By volunteering your time and energy, you can help restore this busy center that has helped to restore the Great Barrington community.

Parks and Recreation

It’s been said that lessons you learn on the playing field, serve you well throughout your life. The Great Barrington Parks and Recreation department provides an outlet for fun and games – and life lessons! – at well-maintained public basketball courts and a youth baseball field. Still, a few improvements are needed. Be a sport! Help out the next generation of this community by volunteering for these small, but needed, repairs.

IS183 Art School

Expressing one’s creativity through art is therapeutic for everyone, not just a select few. IS183 Art School is a community non-profit art school that welcomes people of all ages, incomes and skill levels and gives them hands-on experience creating things that are beautiful and meaningful.

The art school’s historic landmark home, Citizens Hall, was designed in 1870 as a schoolhouse on the first floor and a public meeting hall on the second floor. Today, as home to the IS183 Art School, it serves more than 1,200 local residents – from beginners to seasoned pros — with classes in ceramics, fiber arts, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, jewelry and mixed media.

But creativity can get messy. The school now needs volunteers to deep-clean floors and windows in three of its studios. By volunteering here, you can help make the artistic experience more safe and enjoyable for everyone.


“We stand for what we stand on” is the Greenagers motto; its mission is to get local youth engaged and working to strengthen the environment and the community. Recent projects include Front Lawn Food, which provides organic vegetable gardens to local families. Greenagers have logged more than 2,000 hours of work with community trails, open space and local agriculture.

Greenagers have also partnered with Great Barrington’s Housatonic River Walk and are now the official stewards of this National Recreation Trail. The trail and river banks are maintained to allow public access to the river, and to benefit wildlife and people. Link arms with the Greenagers and help grow tomorrow’s environmental leaders!

Four Winds Farm

A non-profit educational organization, Four Winds offers community programs and services that incorporate holistic education and health, and sustainable living. Four Winds founders are passionate about the land and about teaching others to enjoy it and learn from it.

The Four Winds Farm, a 23-acre teaching and learning site, is a place to “explore, discover and express… with nature and each other.” Classes are offered in nutrition, energy work, gardening, dialogue and connection. A vegetable garden on the farm is now feeding nine local families. Come and be a part of this unique and innovative endeavor!

Flying Cloud Institute

Children are naturally curious about the world around them and how things work. Flying Cloud Institute feeds their curiosity with hands-on investigation into the world of science and art. Innovative projects make learning fun as children ages 5-14 test observations, ideas and theories in the lab, the studio, and in nature.

Children learn how to develop an idea, give it form and communicate it to others – with the goal of becoming expert creative thinkers and problem solvers. Many Flying Cloud-ers go on to earn degrees in the Arts or Sciences, and a few have returned as Flying Cloud staff members! Volunteer with Flying Cloud and tell your friends back home you built a greenhouse out of plastic water bottles, blazed a trail through the forest, or did a mini-makeover of a kids’ clubhouse.

Castle Street Tunnel

Said to be a part of the Underground Railroad – a series of secret spaces, paths and trails where slaves hid as they escaped from the South to the North in the first half of the 1800s – the Castle Street Tunnel is now the canvas for a community mural. The mural is a joint project between youths at the RSYP and the Great Barrington Town Manager.

The tunnel had fallen into disrepair over the years, becoming a target for graffiti. Now RSYP youth have engaged the community to become a part of the project by helping to paint the mural, which depicts African-American art and heritage; Berkshire County history, landmarks and people; and words from local activists and poets. Come and make your mark on local history by volunteering to help paint and finish the mural; some artistic skill may be helpful but is not required.

Community Health Programs

Mothers, fathers and children, from senior adults to newborns, can get medical care at Community Health Programs (CHP). Those in need are given clothing and other necessities just for the asking. In fact, CHP was born of compassion.

More than 35 years ago, a pediatrician noticed children showing up for their kindergarten physicals not having seen a doctor since birth or infancy. Many had medical problems, delays in developmental skills due to isolation, and had had no vaccinations. He founded the Children’s Health Program to care for these rural children who had no access to care, and his staff began making “house calls” in a station wagon. In 2000, CHP began serving adults and elders and changed the name to Community Health Programs. Today CHP provides medical care to Berkshire County and surrounding communities, without regard to insurance status, immigrant status or ability to pay.

Volunteer for a special project at the CHP and help make a difference for countless families and children in this community.

Berkshire South Community Center

This beautiful recreation center is a great example of a community coming together to fulfill a need.  Before it was built eight years ago, city leaders recognized the need for affordable recreation for all families, and the donations came in. Today the center is a non-profit organization that is open to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Programs cater to everyone – early childhood to senior adults, even those with special needs. Free programs include open houses, pool parties, a weekly community supper, open mic nights, special interest classes and more.

The center’s broader mission, though, is to build a stronger community by connecting people to each other to enhance their sense of belonging. This helps create a culture of being more accountable to, and invested in, their community.

Come and pitch in! You can help make the Community Center a safer and more pleasant place for the 2,000 members and for the non-member adults and children who enjoy the center’s free services.

Berkshire Meadows

Love, compassion and a sense of peace envelop Berkshire Meadows, a special education residential school that helps children and young adults with severe developmental disabilities increase their independence and enhance the quality of their lives.

Devoted staff members help their residents find joy and laughter and provide medical, educational and therapeutic services. In spite of their physical, cognitive and/or sensory challenges, the residents are very excited that we’re coming!

Give them a lasting gift by helping plant some 200 colorful flowers around the property, or stain the swings on the home’s front porch. Your fulfillment will last long after the task is done.

Berkshire Botanical Gardens

Green-thumb volunteers will be in gardening heaven at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. After you’ve finished your chores, tour the public display gardens (perennials, annuals, rock garden and more) that are home to 3,000 species and varieties of mostly-indigenous plants and flowers. The special exhibit on display during our visit is titled, “Tree Houses: Architects Take a Bough.”

Hurry and reserve your volunteer spot now, and help make this place of beauty even more beautiful!

Bard College at Simon’s Rock

This small liberal arts and sciences school has a unique student body: all 400 come in after 10th or 11th grade in high school. Dubbed “The Early College,” Bard College seeks to give its students a “broad-minded, paradigm-shifting education” and asks them to take responsibility for the shape and scope of their education, working with advisors and professors to choose (or design) courses, independent projects and off-campus opportunities.

Bard College has adopted Highway Route 7. Since students have been home for the summer, they haven’t been around to help keep the route clean – but that’s where we can come in and pick up the slack!


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