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Building Vocational and Social Skills in the Community: Dakin Humane Society

Image of Carly and Pat posing together with their thumbs up at Dakin Humane Society.

Berkshire Hills Music Academy continues to forge new connections with local organizations in an effort to foster and enhance the vocational and social skills of our students while also giving back to the greater community. Last fall, BHMA launched a community service learning initiative piloted by our first year students; this vocational exploration class meets one morning per week and includes a lunch outing. These students work in a volunteer capacity, exploring vocational interests, building work skills, and practicing social skills in a work environment.

Our partnership with the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield has been a very successful placement. Working in the animal food bank, students measure and sort dog and cat food into gallon-sized bags for distribution to members of the community who are unable to leave their homes and provide food for their animals. Connor Thompson gives Dakin two enthusiastic thumbs up and had this to say about his experience: “I like working hard sorting and measuring food, labeling bags, and other jobs. It feels good to work at Dakin and help animals and people in need."

Image of Connor Thompson, wearing a striped orange and white polo shirt, smiling as he packages cat food at Dakin Humane Society.

Life Skills instructor, Karen Morison, offers support and guidance to our students at Dakin, and has enjoyed watching their growth— noting an increase in both independence and confidence. Karen was also impressed by the ability of our students to sustain focus for the entirety of the shift as the year progressed. When asked about his vocational experience at Dakin this spring, first year student Harry Inman said, “I’m focused when I’m working and as I got more experience it became easier.” 

As our program continues to expand, we’re excited to explore additional opportunities with local agencies and businesses where our students can continue to practice vocational and social skills in preparation for paid employment. 


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