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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