Friends of the Homeless operates the largest shelter for individuals in Western MA. Housing people is our goal!
Friends of the Homeless, Inc. began sheltering people 25 years ago because the community saw a need. We have by necessity grown into the largest emergency shelter for men and women outside of Boston and that’s only the beginning of our story. In addition to providing 24 hour emergency shelter to almost 1200 individuals each year, we serve more than 150,000 meals, provide showers and laundry facilities and operate a Resource Center to help wrap people in services that help them get back on their feet. The most humane thing we do is help people find permanent housing. To that end, in addition to community outreach, FOH is landlord to 110 formerly homeless individuals who live in our single rooms and efficiency apartments.
We work hard every day to build partnerships and find resources so that we can offer real help to people in need. We have a medical and dental clinic on site, as well as a computer lab. This year we partnered with Bay Path University to open and operate Essential Thrift a donations based store providing “essentials” like toothpaste and dry socks free of charge. Other area institutions offer programs, classes and interns that make empty hours meaningful on the FOH campus.
A cavalry of volunteers supplement our small staff but the need is great. We wonder some days if it exceeds the resources of this generous but poor community. What started as a solution for Springfield has become the only place in Western Massachusetts that tries to help whoever comes through our doors. So we’re counting on Valley Gives, on 12/12/13 to help spread the word to a wider audience, make new friends and engage you in giving. Your donations really matter.
Without you, our donors, FOH cannot do the important work of treating our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and adult children with the dignity that every human being deserves. It starts with a bed for the night and with a lot of work in between, ends with a permanent home. You can be a part of making that happen. Please join us and be a friend of the homeless today. Every day after will be a better one.
In addition to our shelters, Friends of the Homeless manages 110 single rooms or efficiency apartments. That can be a first step for the people we see. These are located on our "campus" that also has a full service kitchen serving homeless and non-homeless allike, a medical and dental clinic and supportive service counselors who match people with what they need.
I am so proud of one of our women who recently moved from shelter into an apartment we manage. She has been very involved in her church since she came here and recently travelled to Central America on a mission trip. She came back a new person. How empowering it is when someone who has been the recipient of charity finds out that she has so much to give. From being the victim of trauma to being a beacon of hope, this young woman makes us all proud.
I wish I could say that we help everyone who comes. Sadly, that is not the case. The young woman I mentioned above is a special one. Those who succeed find something inside themselves, or from God, and are able to use the simple tools we offer to move forward in their lives. Others never see a difference and we are sometimes there at the end of their lives. I am often surprised to meet families of individuals who seem so alone when they are here with us.
We try to help whomever comes through our doors. There are successes, and, there are reasons to keep working. Donations from people like you, often people who know someone who might have ended up here, or someplace like this, help to not only sustain us but to improve our services. Your donations really matter. They are practical. (You should see our light bill). And, they show us that you believe this work matters. Thank you for your support!
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