May 1, 2018
Today marks the end of our seventh shelter season! The last day is always bittersweet. As we reflect on the triumphs and challenges of the past six months, and recognize all who made our successes possible, we say goodbye to many brilliant, kind souls who have become part of the fabric of our daily lives.
Running an emergency shelter is a true act of collaboration, and we owe our gratitude and praise to those who have helped us along the way.
Thank you to our staff, an amazing group of individuals who have shown incredible levels of kindness, dedication, patience, and love. You have all gone above and beyond simple job requirements and created a safe environment founded on the concepts of dignity, respect, and compassion. Your conduct and character make the shelter more than just a roof and four walls—it becomes a home.
Thank you to the First Baptist Church of Amherst for welcoming us into your facility, and the wonderful partnership we have created throughout the years.
Thank you to our volunteers and community members who have donated time, money, and resources in support of our work. Your generosity and presence in the shelter is a vital part of what allows our programs to run.
Thank you to our partners in town, including the, Amherst Fire Department, and many members of town government, for your support, advocacy, and collaborative approach to addressing issues of homelessness within our community.
Thank you to our agency partners, including: Eliot CHS, the Amherst Survival Center, The Food Bank of Western MA, the UMASS Amherst Food Recovery Network, Tapestry, Veteran’s Services,Dial/Self Youth & Community Services, Safe Passage, and many more for creating the network of resources that empower and advocate for our guests. Our partnerships only strengthen the work we all do, and our collective web of resources allows our guests to progress along the continuum from homelessness to housing.
Most importantly, immense gratitude to our guests, who work together to create one of the most vibrant, beautiful, supportive communities we have ever seen. Thank you all for your endless patience, humor, selflessness, and honesty. Thank you for your words, your time, your thoughts, and your help. Thank you for allowing us into your lives. Thank you for putting up with all of us for six months!
We look forward to all the future has to bring, and hope everyone stays safe and well throughout the summer.
Although numbers and statistics can be perceived as an impersonal way to represent so many unique individuals, they tell a powerful story all their own. The data gathered from each shelter season is essential to our ability to assess need, and shows us the gaps in local and regional services. It also serves as a marker for our quality of care. Below is a snapshot of the 2017-2018 season.
During the season, we served 172 individuals. Some guests stayed for only one night, while others stayed each night from November 1st-April 30th. Due to capacity, we turned someone away approximately 32 times each month.
24% of our guests were women
44% of our guests are considered particularly vulnerable based on their age:
18% of our guests are youth
27% are over fifty
23% have a physical disability
12% have a developmental disability
26% have a chronic health condition
64% of our guests are navigating mental health concerns
36% are survivors of domestic violence
19% of our guests are navigating mental health concerns and also struggle with both alcohol and substance use
Keep in mind, as many of these statistics are self reported, the presence of mental, physical, and substance use related issues are almost certainly underrepresented. What these numbers do show is that many who utilize our services are highly vulnerable. This further reinforces the need for behavior-based, low barrier facilities that allow those who may not be sober to have access to basic human rights, including shelter, food, and safety.
Please see graphs below.