Gastón de los Reyes: A chance to pay it forward

Thursday, April 23, 2020

In the blink of an eye the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down.

University professors, like me, have had to quickly adapt to online instruction. What I have not had to adapt to, unlike too many members of our community, is losing my source of income.

I am grateful that local relief organizations like the Amherst Survival Center are rising to the challenge created by this unprecedented crisis. Over the last several weeks, the Survival Center has seen a 50% increase in the number of people coming for lunch and many new families enrolling at the Food Pantry.

Partnering with area senior centers and other organizations, the Amherst Survival Center has doubled their grocery delivery to seniors and is making sure groceries get to whoever needs them. After speaking this week with Executive Director Lev Ben-Ezra, I learned that already over 500 local residents have made gifts small and large.

This incredible generosity has made it possible to answer the enormous need to date. However, because the center depends on community support and there is no end in sight to the emerging economic crisis, even more help is needed to ensure that no one goes hungry in our community. I am writing to encourage anyone whose financial well-being has not been upended by the crisis to consider earmarking their federal government relief checks to support local needs.

If you and your family are weathering the economic storm, consider taking this opportunity to pay it forward. I chose to donate to the Amherst Survival Center (www.amherstsurvival.org) and the BID’s Downtown Amherst Foundation (www.downtownamherstfoundation.org), which was recently established to help keep local businesses afloat.

I hope you will consider joining me in supporting these funds so that together we can combat hunger and financial insecurity in our community. We can take steps that pave the way for Amherst to come out of this crisis healthy and strong.

Gastón de los Reyes