(Image: Right, retreat winner Lorena Dus, senior caseworker at Berkshire Immigrant Center, and Left, her nominator, Michelle Lopez, executive director of Berkshire Immigrant Center.)

Berkshire United Way and Miraval Berkshires have announced their 2020 retreat winner.

From the Official Press Release From the Berkshire United Way:

In partnership with Miraval Berkshires, Berkshire United Way issued a call for nominations to honor first responders and essential workers supporting their community during the pandemic. World Gratitude Day kicked off the nomination process and 28 names were submitted. Dus was randomly selected, and she and a guest will enjoy a four-day, three-night transformative retreat at Miraval Berkshires in Lenox.

“Thank you to everyone who took the time to send in these nominations. We’re excited for Lorena and appreciate the support she and the rest of the nominees are providing our neighbors throughout the county. We also want to thank Miraval Berkshires for their generosity in offering this great getaway right here in the Berkshires,” said Candace Winkler, BUW president and chief executive officer.

As a senior case worker at Berkshire Immigrant Center (BIC), Lorena Dus has helped hundreds of immigrants with legal consultations, case filings, referrals, translations, and emergency fund assistance. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, her caseload increased, yet she remained committed to helping others.

“Lorena is a champion for immigrants and her community,” said BIC Executive Director Michelle Lopez, who nominated Dus for Berkshire United Way’s recent gratitude nomination process.

“We are overwhelmed by the abundance of nominations our Gratitude Day giveaway has received from the local community,” added Vic Cappadona, general manager of Miraval Berkshires. “Miraval Berkshires, along with Berkshire United Way, looks forward to honoring Lorena’s impressive contributions to our community with a well-being retreat filled with healing and restoration.”

Dus, who was surprised but thankful for the nomination, said, “I am very lucky I have a job I love, and being able to help others is my reward. I feel very humbled and honored and I look forward to staying at Miraval Berkshires. Thank you to Berkshire United Way and to my colleagues for thinking of me.”

During her tenure at BIC, Dus has helped over 160 immigrants achieve U.S. citizenship and advocated for the rights of hundreds of other immigrants in various difficult situations.

Since the shutdown in March, she has screened more than 50 undocumented immigrant families not eligible to receive government benefits so that BIC Development Coordinator Sheryl Lechner, who raised most of the COVID-19 emergency relief funds, could then provide them the funds.

Dus has also filed for 23 immigrants to become U.S. citizens and has met with or called more than 80 clients to file immigration visa petitions, provide document translations and notarizations and give referrals to other community services.

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