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Homeless In Hotels

Editorial: Greenfield shows its heart

You can choose to see Greenfield in a number of ways these days.

You can focus on its past, the present or where you envision the community is going in the future.

We can discuss changing demographics, economy, what Greenfield needs and doesn’t require. We’d venture to say what people choose to see and put into words would vary greatly. But all of these views are shaded to some degree by the opinion that this is a community that cares.

That plainly has been on view in the recent days in reaction to the number of homeless families from around the state who are now living in two of Greenfield’s motels.

Yes, the placement of 93 families here has prompted plenty of questions among town and school officials as well as from some Greenfield residents.

But there has also been a genuine outpouring of concern for the families and the children. As Lewis Metaxas, chairman of the Human Rights Commission said in The Recorder Saturday, “raising children in hotels should not be an option.

But it has to be one because there isn’t any room in shelters and there aren’t enough apartments under the state’s program.”

He’s not alone in seeing this, nor is Metaxas the only person stepping forward to try to help these families.

We see this in Lisa McGuinness, the Greenfield schools registrar, who in the morning before school starts can be found at the two motels, talking to parents as well as motel staff with the goal of seeing that the children are enrolled and going to school. McGuinness and the rest of the Greenfield Public Schools staff are working hard to minimize the stress changing schools can bring on.

“These kids are living something we wouldn’t wish for anybody,” said Newton School Principal Melodie Goodwin.

“They need us and we’re here for them.”

That kind of caring doesn’t end with the schools.

As we’ve reported, local social service agencies have also stepped forward. “We all put our heads together to make sure they are getting all of the services they need,” said Holly Kosisky of the Franklin County Resource Network.

And we know individuals are stepping up, to donate food, diapers and school supplies that these homeless families don’t have.

Perhaps Goodwin sums it up best: “There’s a lot of heart in our community.”

Yes, there is.

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