Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shelter update

The first month of the shelter is at an end and we’re heading into the winter season. Already the first snow has fallen and it is more important than ever to keep the shelter up and running. Despite the uncertainty regarding our funding, the shelter itself is running well. We’ve seen a dramatic change from last year and things are going smoothly at Craig’s Doors. Guests are happy with the new procedures in place and appreciate having a safe place to call home for the night.

As December marches on, we are getting closer to hearing the state’s decision on the earmarked funding. That being said, our own fundraising campaign has already brought in eight thousand dollars via a GoFundMe page set up by Rebekah. Money that is much needed to help keep the shelter running and provide critical support to those in need. If you haven’t, check out the video made by our staff. It features some of guests talking about their experiences at the shelter and the importance of the shelter to them. For those unfamiliar with the Craig’s Place Emergency Shelter, it’s a great window into the lives of our guests.

We’re roughly a week away from hearing the Governor’s decision and the health and safety of our guests hangs in the balance. Please consider taking a moment to check out our GoFundMe page or share it with someone you know. Even the act of spreading the word helps us tremendously during this trying time. You support, both large and small, is critical to our success.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Funding Crisis

Due to a State budget deficit, earmark funding in line item 7004-0102 designated for Homeless Individuals Assistance is on hold.  This includes $200,000 designated for Craig’s Doors.  For the past three years, Craig’s Doors has used this funding to operate Craig’s Place, Amherst’s emergency homeless shelter.  The governor’s administration will reach a decision by December 15, 2016; until then, it is uncertain what will happen. There are three options: 1.) We receive all of our funding. 2.) We take a percentage cut, which may be great or small. 3.) We lose all of our funding.

In the event that funding is not restored, Craig’s Place may have to close during the coldest and most dangerous months of winter.  Without Craig’s Place, many individuals will have to sleep outside, and some of them will die.
 “We are doing everything we can to keep the shelter open.” Rebekah Wilder, Craig’s Doors Executive Director said. 
In addition to communications with the legislature and state, Craig’s Doors is seeking alternative funding sources and cutting expenses.
Today, we are making an appeal to the Hampshire County community: help us keep our doors open. Help us in our mission to support those who are at their most vulnerable. Whether you are able to donate time, money, or material goods, your contribution to our shelter directly translates into another day of operation, another day of saving lives. Each day is significant.  In order to remain an accessible resource, we need the support of our community. Your partnership is essential to the furthering of our goal to create housing for those in need.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Opening Night

Last night marked the beginning of the 2016-2017 season for the Craig’s Place Emergency Shelter. And it got off to a great start! All told, the shelter kept seventeen individuals out of the cold last night, many of whom were quick to say they missed the shelter and its friendly faces. Shelter guests were able to enjoy a hot meal, warm shower and their “first good night’s sleep in a long time”. Everyone was happy to have a calm, quiet night at the shelter.

However not everyone who showed up to the shelter last night was able to stay. This was especially true for one female guest, since the number of women allowed to stay the night is now capped at six. But Craig’s Doors dedicated staff members were able to drive her to a neighboring Cot Shelter in Northampton, to keep her from spending the night on the streets. As we head into a busy, and cold, season, things are shaping up well. With new policies and procedures in place, a devoted team of staff and volunteers, the foundation has been set for an excellent season.

And the need could not be greater as there are many in community who are without stable housing. Though Amherst may be known for it’s numerous colleges, Craig’s Place Shelter provides an important service for individuals in the community who are on the outside of that world. Individuals who are facing hard times and uncertainty about their future, but who can take comfort in the fact that they have a place to call home for the night.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thoughts from Rebekah

We have been blessed to run the Amherst’s Emergency Shelter over the past 5 years.  We shelter 22-34 individuals each night from November 1st – April 30th.  Our mission is to be a safe place for anyone experiencing homelessness.  No one deserves to die from a New England Winter, no matter what has happened in their life.  I am honored to serve these incredible individuals, who have fought through so much.  They are strong, brave, and resilient.
This was rough year for everyone, but especially for those whose residence is the streets of Amherst.  I want to apologize for the added stress placed on you this year.  The lack of a Shelter Director and the stress caused by the tight space in the trailer was something none of you needed added to your plate.  This year, I am committed to ensuring the shelter operations run smoothly for everyone.
Craig’s Place was home to 186 individuals this winter. 63% struggle with mental illness, and 48% struggle with Substance abuse.  Of those who struggle with Substance abuse, 74% of them struggle with a mental illness.  These numbers inform us of the real issues behind addiction – mental health.
Everyone who comes through our doors is unique.  Their range of abilities, life stories, desires, hopes and dreams, and level of self-respect all come together to create different barriers to housing.

It is only through working with them as individuals, and not as a collective group, that we will find the solutions to ending homelessness.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

No Walls to hide

Guest Blogger
Claire Martin
Craig's Place Staff

I have a memory of myself as a child, sitting in the passenger seat of my mother’s car, looking out the window at some new construction being built as we drove by. It was becoming a huge gray building, rectangular in shape, and impressive in size. As we drove past it, I said to my mother, “That should be a homeless shelter.” I’m not sure how I was even aware of the concept of homelessness given my very sheltered world – perhaps a movie on TV, or a story in the news, but I remember this interaction specifically because of my mother’s reaction to it – she laughed.

It took me years to understand why she thought my suggestion was so funny.  I saw a big empty building, a spacious place where there could be beds, and tables of food. It seemed perfectly logical to me at the time.

What I didn’t know is that our society’s attitude toward the problem of homelessness was very unlike my childlike view. There is a near unshakable belief in our minds that those who suffer without a home are a product of their own poor judgment in life, and homelessness is a kind of societal penalty that is well deserved.