Four years ago, Katelynn Chapman and Cathy Chapman went to Los Angeles California to volunteer at the Dream Center. The Dream Center was founded by Pastor Matthew Barnett in 1994. It is a volunteer driven organization that has over 200 different types of outreaches. Currently it houses 600 people and serves over 400,000 people each month. It is the "Church that Never Sleeps." 24 hours a day 7 days a week the Center is helping people all over Los Angeles. Their mission statement is, "Find a Need and Fill it, Find a Hurt a heal it."
During that trip, Katelynn started developing a heart that knows no limitations and to reach out to people wherever they are. As soon as they returned from Los Angeles, Cathy met with their pastor, Joseph Nieves, and shared the vision that God had given her on the trip to start one of their programs in Pittsfield called Adopt A Block. Pastor Joe encouraged Cathy to step out and do what God was asking.
Adopt A Block then started in 2008, in the Morningside Community in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The initial streets that were chosen were Cherry Street, Lincoln Street, and Second Street. During Adopt A Block, volunteers knock on every door of the streets that are chosen to get to know people, and then do trash clean up. The program is faith based, but when visits are done nothing is preached or shoved at people. It is simply letting them know that there is someone who cares about them and if they need anything or if someone they know needs anything then they are there. The first day that we stepped out and started our home visits, a landlord from one of these streets pulled up and got out of his truck and said, "Well,well. What the hell do we have here?" Later on, he went on to tell the newspaper that he knew that day we were either crazy or that we were for real and only time would tell. For 3 years, we visited the same houses twice a month to continue developing these relationships.
Then on June 18th 2011, God honored the faithfulness and hearts of the volunteers who simply just wanted to make a difference in their community by reaching out to others with the love of God. On June 18th 2011, the Berkshire Dream Center found it's home. Katelynn and Cathy with their team of volunteers were doing home visits as usual, and saw the same landlord that they saw that first day. Katelynn felt like God was leading her to share her heart with him about doing something more for the community then just visiting the homes twice a month.It was then that Charlie Ostowsky took them across the street to 41 Cherry Street and said to them, "It's yours!"
How many of us know that even when we pray and believe God for something, when it happens we are surprised? Even though we shouldn't be because we believe that God will do it! He said it was because of the change that he saw on his street that he would be honored to have us in his building. Matthew Barnett says in his book, "The Church that Never Sleeps," "that when caring people invade a neighborhood week after week with the love of God, the atmosphere of that community changes." When we start off with a vision that God has given us, we cannot get discouraged if we do not see results right away. All that God asks of us is that we are faithful to do our part, and He will do His and take care of the results. The landlord then fixed up the space, painted, installed cabinets for the food pantry, and got it ready for us in 1 week!
On July 1st 2011, the Berkshire Dream Center was open to anyone who wished to come through it's doors. We are now a 501(c)(3) and are recognized by the federal government as a public charity. We are a non profit organization that is fully dedicated to helping people in Berkshire County. Our streets have expanded and we now have adopted 8 in Pittsfield and 3 in North Adams, Massachusetts. Our team now consists of 27 volunteers and every month we hold orientations and training for more to come on our team!
The Berkshire Dream Center's core values and beliefs are firmly grounded in the Bible. Our desire is to be like Jesus, and to love people the way that He does. The services that we provide are clothing, furniture, food, connection to assistance programs, Adopt A Block ( home visits and street clean up), hospital visits, jail visits, our neighbors helping neighbors program, church on Sundays and a full kids program, a men's group, a young adults group, discussion groups, meeting any need that arises, and always FREE coffee!
This is how God brought us to the point that we are at today! Stories and updates will be shared every week so make sure that you keep visiting us here at this page! We also are on facebook and you can find us if you type in the search box, "Berkshire Dream Center".