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.