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Kevin J. Noonan: Craig’s Doors grateful for Amherst’s houses of worship


Thursday, January 06, 2022

I recently attended a Christmas Eve service at Immanuel Lutheran Church. As I entered the sanctuary, I glanced back across a snowy courtyard toward the Parish Hall and was filled with gratitude for the glow of light inside knowing the church was simultaneously hosting Craig’s Place, our seasonal, congregate, shelter for people who are homeless.

Of course it reminded me of the age-old Nativity story except, on this night and throughout this winter season, thanks to Immanuel’s congregation, there was indeed “room in the inn” and 23 beds were available to anyone in need.

I had the same feeling last year when the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst hosted Craig’s Place for not just the season but well into the summer. Although the pandemic forced them to watch their holiday services on Zoom, at Craig’s Place we were safe and warm in their Social Hall.

And for 11 years prior, First Baptist Church of Amherst hosted Craig’s Place in its undercroft and continues to host our administrative offices for which the board and staff of Craig’s Doors is deeply appreciative.

Since 2009 nearly all other houses of worship in town, from all denominations, have assisted in our mission with donations of food, clothing, money and volunteers. We cannot thank them enough. Their generosity and compassion, which keeps people from the freezing cold, has also allowed those without homes to stay healthy during this COVID-19 pandemic.

We are delighted to report that in a recent meeting with Town Manager Paul Bockelman, he indicated there are funds available through the American Rescue Plan Act to acquire a permanent site and that he considers Craig’s Doors to be “a good partner.”

For Craig’s Doors this is indeed a most welcome opportunity since we are currently seeking to acquire a permanent site for Craig’s Place, our Resource Center and our recently established day program, The Warming Place.

While we look forward to the continued compassionate support and generosity of the houses of worship with our ongoing mission, we will be greatly relieved to not have to ask them to share their limited spaces in the coming year.

Kevin J. Noonan

Amherst

The writer is executive director at Craig’s Doors — A Home Association, Inc.