Friday, April 15, 2016

At 9:20 I park in front of the First Baptist Church.  A line of guests stretches from the glass doors down to the end of railing.  As I walk closer I hear people call out to me "hey Rebekah!", "how's it going?", "let the lady through!".  As I reach the door, someone has already rung the doorbell for me, alerting the staff inside to my presence.  I smile, shouting back that I'll see them in a few minutes.

In Nov 2010, I spent my first overnight as staff at the Amherst Shelter.  That night, I learned a lesson that has stuck with me - the most incredible individuals in the Valley live on the streets of Amherst.

I admit. some of these amazing people have severe behavioral problems, some of them are loud and have no sense of occasion.  There are some who never shower, and some who struggle with addictions.  Some have even been to prison.  But these same individuals are also poets, story tellers, artists, musicians, avid readers, and philosophers.  They are veterans who fought for our country, and and they are grandfathers pulling out pictures of the newest grandchild.  They are someones father, mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, aunt or uncle.

It is uncomfortable to think about them as people, because then we have to acknowledge that it could have been us.

But they are people.  They are creative, resourceful, strong people.  It is an honor to know them, an an honor to work with them.

~Rebekah Wilder
Executive Director

In memory of all the amazing individuals who have passed away - Bongos, James, Jessica, Mubu, Mary, Sherman, Mo,  Brian, and Jimmy.  You will never be forgotten.

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