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Help us help our neighbors

At this special time of year, I write once again on behalf of some of our most vulnerable neighbors — the homeless and those hoping to find permanent housing.

As you may recall, the Interfaith Council of Franklin County started an approach more than a year ago that gives the maximum result for the money we allocate. With the money you donated in the past, we have been able to assist more than 160 households, either by helping with start-up costs for an apartment (first month’s/last month’s/security deposit), or by assisting those facing eviction because of rental arrears.

The Planning Committee that oversees the process is made up of Interfaith Council members, social-service providers and those who work directly with the homeless. They make certain that those seeking assistance are living within a reasonable budget, assess the amount they need, and make sure that the assistance goes directly to a certain and reliable landlord. Furthermore, the committee has done surveys of those assisted. More than 90 percent now continue to occupy the apartments into which they moved.

By helping those who are ready for permanent housing, we also free up room in transitional housing and at the emergency shelter for those who are on a waiting list.

In all these ways, the money you have contributed has made a meaningful, lasting impact, with a maximum return on the investment in the lives of our neighbors.

I know that resources are limited and all sorts of charitable requests are made at this time of year. But I have always believed that a good part of our focus should be local, and that we should start at the bottom, with those who have the most basic needs. Not having a home, particularly during the winter, is about as local and as basic as it gets.

We ask that, during this annual time of generous giving, you consider making a charitable donation to benefit the Interfaith Council Housing Assistance Fund. In this way, we will be able to respond to the needs of those who are ready for housing, as well as to those who are in danger of losing their housing. You may send the offering directly to the Interfaith Council Housing Assistance Fund at Greenfield Savings Bank, PO Box 1537, Greenfield, MA 01302 (please do not send cash).

Thank you for your kind consideration of this request. We wish you the blessings of joy and peace.

Rev. Stanley J. Aksamit of Our Lady of Peace Church wrote this on behalf of the Planning Committee that includes himself and Rev. Susan Bowman, Interfaith Council; Amy Clarke, Franklin County Community Meals; John Cremins, ServiceNet; Stephen Karpovich, ServiceNet; Fran LeMay, ServiceNet; Joan Vander Vliet, Interfaith Council.

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