Sunday, July 24, 2016

Homeless Youth - This Week at Arise

Kei'shairra is an amazing young woman who walked into Arise earlier this summer and has now organized a youth committee.  She's also been doing summer activities for the kids at a local park, including some kids from a homeless family we helped get into shelter.

Yesterday she returned from the park with a young man, we'll call him Neal-- homeless, gay, Puerto Rican, very hot and very down in the dumps.

There are a couple of programs that take in youth under the age of 18, but Neal, unfortunately, turned 18 a few months ago.  Still, I called around to see if anyone could make an exception, and lucked out-- the Gandara Center had just opened a new program for homeless youth eighteen to twenty-four!  They found a temporary foster situation for him and when he came to visit today, he was in a much better place.

Unfortunately, the next young person-- a woman--  who came to us was twenty-five.  Miguel King, our former Senior Aide who we found a way to hire when we had to hire him or else lose him, helped her think through job training and housing options.  There was no immediate fix for her except the Worthington shelter, but fortunately, they had space.

Earlier this week the employer of a young woman who had been living in her van with her dog and her cat called us-- the woman was at the end of her rope.  Could we help?  Dakin Humane Society used to have a program that could board animals of homeless people until they could get back on their feet, so I called them, but that program has ended-- lack of funding. One of our members was able to take them in for a while, while the woman figures things out.

It was quieter on the homeless family front.  Liz met with a couple of families facing homelessness and helped to prepare them for applying for shelter to DHCD.  Meanwhile the Go Fund Me page that Joanne Ehret set up for us-- to have a little slush fund to place homeless families in a motel overnight when necessary-- inches toward its $1,000 goal.  Please contribute if you can.

Aaron McBryar, our STEPC intern from UMass, is almost finished with updating our Food Pantry Guide and Homeless Singles Survival Guide, and we'll be passing them out this week wherever people are most likely to need them.

Arise and Springfield No One Leaves folks also met to talk about the major housing action we are planning for September 22nd.  Both of our organizations are members of  Right to the City/Homes for All, which is coordinating a National Day of Action for Renters' Rights.  Stay tuned!

This could be a big week for the Environmental Justice work we're doing.  Health Commissioner Site Assignment Hearing-- that is, have we provided enough evidence to convince her, as we convinced the Public Health Council, that the threat to public health and our environment from Palmer Renewable Energy's proposed plant requires a hearing?  And the Conservation Law Foundation will be in Springfield on August 3 for oral arguments on their/our challenge to the issuance of an air permit for the incinerator.   
Helen Caulton-Harris says she'll decide this week if the biomass incinerator we've been fighting for eight years deserves to have a

I found out this week that Pat Sullivan, head of Parks, Recreation and Facilities for the City of Springfield, has gone ahead and posted Fish Advisory signs ahead of the city council taking up our ordinance (proposed through the Green Committee).  Most people don't know that freshwater fish in Massachusetts are contaminated with enough mercury that women of childbearing age and children under twelve years of age should NOT eat them. (Really, should anybody?)

Our organizers Lisa Torres and Jesse Lederman met this week with Steve Bryant, President and CEO of Columbia Gas, to continue negotiations around sealing the "super emitters" of gas leaks in Springfield and around the state.  Climate Action Now has taken this up as one of its major campaigns. 

Not last and far from least, those of us who helped to organize the Black Lives Matter/#FedUp413 rally against police shootings on July 11 are meeting this week to plan a large community meeting.

So much more I could tell you about from last week....Want to get involved in organizing for social justice?  Call Arise, 734-4948 or email us at

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday at Arise

Folks, we could use some food-- simple things, crackers, cans of soup, juice-- because we've had a lot of homeless kids in our office the past couple of weeks and sometimes their families are just out of money.  And it is just impossible to eat food in front of hungry people unless you have enough to share.

One family today spent several days with us last week, also.  We get to be headquarters, so they can make calls without having to use up their cellphone minutes, look apartment leads up on the computer, and, of course, bring each new piece of information about their shelter eligibility to  us so we can figure out what it means and what to do next, if there is a next thing that can be done.

A father and his three children came in with a DHCD denial letter,  and I think we can fix this one pretty easily-- DHCD thinks it was an illegal sublet (which would make them ineligible if the primary tenant gets evicted) but no, he actually paid his rent to his friend's mother, who was the owner of the house.  So he needs to get a letter from his friend's mother, not his friend.  (Maybe if DHCD weren't so busy, they could spend more time exploring how a family could become eligible.) The bank took the house in April, and the family has been bouncing ever since.  He works third shift, so the kids get to sleep at their babysitters.

"And when do you sleep?" I asked him.

"I stay where I'm working and catch a couple of hours when my shift is done," he said.  The rest of the time, with school out, the kids are with him all the time.

The family who has spent the most time with us recently has a complicated story, too long and too revealing to tell, so you'll just have to take my word that the main cause of their homelessness is racism.

Marion at Community Legal Aid has offered to do another training for us in the Emergency Assistance regulations to we can train more people, and we're going to take her up on it.  Let us know if you'd like to be involved.

Meanwhile, organizers are organizing, Jackie, as volunteer coordinator, is getting the kids to help fold brochures, and the phone is ringing, ringing.

We need a bigger place.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

We're back!

Hi, All,

Through a series of misadventures, our website crashed and cannot be restored.  We're starting over but it will take a while.  In the meantime, our blog is back in action!-- and, as is always the case, if you have a story to share, email it to me at or  Watch this site!  And there's great stuff in the archives. Print Friendly and PDF