Valley Gives Day

It’s Valley Gives Day!
May 2nd, 2017

Support Craig’s Doors on Valley Gives Day!

Valley gives is a 24-hour giving opportunity to improve the quality of life in the Pioneer Valley.  Coming together for one day, donors, sponsors, and organizations can make our region stronger.

Your donation to Craig’s Doors will help provide emergency shelter and housing services to individuals who are homeless!

 Your donation today will also help us become eligible for dollar prizes from the Community Foundation that will enhance our Valley Gives Day totals.

“To have at least a cot and a blanket, somewhere to go for a nice meal at night, it can really change your outlook on life” ~ Kate, Shelter Guest

Individuals living on the streets of Amherst rely on us to provide safe and caring shelter during the bitter cold New England winters.

Join us today by donating to Valley Gives:

 Donations are 100% tax-deductible.  No account necessary!

A New Year

In just two short days, we will be beginning a new year. The days leading up to 2017 give us a time to evaluate our mission and values. A chance to decide – have we been doing right? What do we want to commit to doing differently in 2017? How can we make ourselves better people in the new year?

As an Executive Director, I have to ask myself and my staff – what do we plan to do differently this year, to better serve those without homes? And we ask our guests – what do they want to do differently this year, to help achieve their personal goals?

As we begin to imagine what the new year should look like for us, I cling to a few values that have not changed since we first opened in 2011:

Everyone deserves a door of their own

No one should die from a New England winter

People who are homeless are not social inadequates’, they are people without homes

Homelessness can happen to anyone

Message from our Shelter Guests

Save Craig’s Place! from Craig’s Doors on Vimeo.

Funding Update

Craig’s Doors funding has been restored!  


We are deeply grateful to Governor Baker for choosing to

Rep. Story and Sen. Rosenberg
And everyone who has advocated on our behalf, and donated to support
the shelter during this difficult time.

But we still need your help!

The turn around time for state earmarks is one to two months.  Because of this, Craig’s Doors is continuing to operate at minimal staffing and administrative costs to hang on.  We still need support from the community as we wait for the state funding.

Your donation is not wasted!

Your donations have and will save lives this winter!
With our shelter funding restored,
your donation will also:

  • Give guests hope during the dark New England Winter
  • Provide case management services to shelter guests
  • Help individuals move into permanent housing
  • Support the long term stability of the Shelter services
Donate today to
#savecraigsplace and MORE

November at Craig’s Place

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.

Save Craig’s Place Video

Full video coming soon!

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.

The mission of Craig’s Place is to provide safe, caring shelter for people experiencing homelessness.  They are a seasonal 22 bed Emergency Shelter and serve between 150 and 200 individuals each year.  On Tuesday, November 1st, just five hours before the shelter was scheduled to open, Rebekah Wilder received notice that the funding was uncertain.  By this time, the supplies were all purchased, staff hired and trained, and the guests waiting in town for the doors to open.

That is the reality facing each guest; as they ask themselves “Will I make it through another night?”.

Craig’s Place has a behavior-based admissions policy: all who show respect for the safety and well-being of our guests, volunteers, and staff are welcome. Its existence allows for some of the most vulnerable members of the community—those with ongoing substance use issues, mental health issues, and physical disabilities—to exercise basic human rights to shelter, safety, and respect. This means that even if an individual is under the influence they will have a place to stay for the night. Craig’s Place is the only behavior based shelter in Hampshire County, and only one of two in all of Western Mass.  Many of our guests seek refuge with us, having no other options left to them.

On an average night, fifty-two percent of shelter guests struggle with mental health issues, while another thirty-six percent have substance use issues. Furthermore, twenty-six percent of people struggle with both, making them some of the most vulnerable guests at the shelter. These are individuals who are the most likely to die if they are left outside in the cold.

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.

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.

Real-life portraits: Amherst photo exhibit profiles homeless people in the region

In lieu of last Friday’s blog post, I’m sharing the following link.

If you are still in Amherst, I hope you will visit this Photo Exhibit by Eric Broudy.

Real-life portraits: Amherst photo exhibit profiles homeless people in the region