Cheryl Zoll, Mindy Domb, Lev Ben-Ezra: Remembering Evangeline ‘Vangie’ Wescott

Thursday, July 29, 2021

As the three executive directors who followed in Evangeline “Vangie” Wescott’s footsteps at the Amherst Survival Center, we would like to offer a letter expressing deepest gratitude to Vangie, who passed away in June, on behalf of the entire Amherst Survival Center community.

Our community owes an enormous debt to Vangie, who helped found the Amherst Survival Center with Jane Holappa and served as its first executive director for over 30 years. Vangie’s vision for the Amherst Survival Center, at its heart, recognized that being part of a community and having one’s voice heard are as vital to survival as food, clothing and medical care.

Her leadership was rooted in the belief that no one in our community should have to struggle in isolation for daily survival. She created an organization that truly belonged to all who made their community there and honored the strengths and skills of everyone who walked through the doors.

While she accomplished so much, Vangie approached her work with the deepest humility. We heard many stories about how she would drop whatever she was doing to listen to someone who was struggling, cut through red tape to provide essential support, and connect people who could provide mutual aid. She knew that each of us is the expert in our own lives, and that people with shared experiences have the best solutions for each other. She knew that together we have more than enough.

You can read Vangie’s full obituary here: https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/21335645/Evangeline-Christine-Westcott. Please join with family and friends to celebrate Vangie’s life at a potluck picnic at Look Park on July 31, 10 a.m. to noon. All are invited. (If you need transportation to the event, contact miranda@amherstsurvival.org or 413-549-3968 x110.)

With sadness and enormous gratitude for all that Vangie created, we extend our deepest condolences to Vangie’s family and friends as they mourn her loss. On behalf of a community who is still benefiting from the foundation she built, we thank you, Vangie. May we carry your legacy forward.

Cheryl Zoll, Mindy Domb and Lev Ben-Ezra are former executive directors of the Amherst Survival Center.