The homeless ones. You've seen them around Holyoke, some of them standing in the median strip of high traffic areas, clutching signs, hoping to gain a few cents from drivers as they stop at red lights. You've seen them on High Street and Main. They here in Holyoke, as well as every town in the Commonwealth.
As you pass them by, maybe you've assigned them a role in your mind: drug addict, lazy, unfortunate. Or maybe without a judging heart, you've handed them a few cents or dollars, hoping it will add something to what little they have. Perhaps you take pride in them not being you, or maybe you see them as powerful reminders that those who live from paycheck to paycheck are only one paycheck or illness away from being homeless themselves.
But, whatever you think of them, they are here, they are cold, and many have no place to go.
Homelessness was an issue before the pandemic and has only increased. Added to this is a housing shortage. And although we're not going to solve the homeless crisis soon, some issues - like freezing temperatures that can lead to death - need immediate and compassionate attention from our leaders.
Mayor Joshua Garcia is one of those leaders, and he would like assistance from Holyoke's local non-profit and faith-based organizations to better respond to the needs of the homeless in our town during the coming winter months.
In his recent post in the Hello Holyoke! Forum, Mayor Garcia wrote the following:
"Holyoke, I need your cooperation and support on an important humanitarian initiative. The recent sub-zero weather has highlighted the need in our community for those without homes to seek shelter from freezing temperatures. Our local Emergency Operations team has been brainstorming alternative ideas to best respond to the need recognizing the complexity behind having a municipally operated warming shelter. With that in mind, our administration is seeking a partnership arrangement with a local non-profit and/or faith-based organizations (local churches) to better respond when the need arises. We have more freezing temperatures coming this week. If we can’t identify an arrangement on time, please know the Holyoke Police Department is open to members of the public to warm up. I know it’s not ideal…I’m thankful to have it as an option at a minimum until we as a community can identify a better solution."
Please get in touch with Mayor Garcia's assistant, John Dolan, at email@example.com if your non-profit or church can assist with this important humanitarian initiative.
Mayor Garcia also wants to recognize and thank two local leaders who keep this important issue at the forefront: Councilor Juan Anderson-Burgos and Nicole Christine - thank you!