Letter: Thank you to community members who supported Fenn St. shelter plan

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To the editor:

On behalf of the people of First United Methodist Church, I wish to extend thanks to the more than 1,000 people and organizations that supported the relocation of Pittsfield's homeless shelter to our building. The list is too long to give credit to all individually, but I wish to lift up a few of these.

For ServiceNet and its staff, Jay Sacchetti and Erin Forbush carried the weight of these hearings. We were helped with the expert assistance of Elton Ogden and Brad Gordon, longtime housing experts in Pittsfield. John Barry Architects has been terrific.

We are especially grateful to attorney Tom Hamel, who volunteered his skills to negotiate a settlement and to guide us through rough waters. This is real civic commitment.

Nan Bookless organized a petition drive that really connected across the community to show support for the homeless population. Dennis Powell and the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP took bold action to affirm the project, which disproportionately helps a number of people of color. Virginia O'Leary of Pittsfield Prospers spoke out for the project, as did Drew Herzig of the Pittsfield Human Rights Commission.

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Of all the elected officials serving Pittsfield, only two displayed the integrity and courage to speak out for the project: Councilor Helen Moon and School Committee member Dennis Powell. Councilor Chris Connell worked for this project, but was unable to get on the meeting. State Sen. Adam Hinds procured a commonwealth grant of $200,000 for the project.

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The faith communities of Pittsfield carried this project, for which we are deeply grateful. The Rev. Quentin Chen, Rabbi David Weiner of Knesset Israel, the Rev. Joel Huntington of South Congregational, the Rev. Jennifer Gregg and the Rev. Sloan Letman of Cathedral of the Beloved, as well as members of First Church, Zion Lutheran, St. Stephens, area Roman Catholic churches, Price Memorial AME Zion, Second Congregational and others were vocal in support of this project. We also thank the Christian Center, Working Cities and Habitat for Humanity for their support.

It must also be said that those citizens who spoke at the hearings in favor of this project with great eloquence and persuasiveness were vitally important. We thank you.

Finally, thanks to The Eagle editors for your endorsement.

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The issues of homeless, poverty, racism, addiction and poor public health are not solved by this one project. We must all redouble efforts to create an inclusive, healthy and open community in which all people can thrive.

The Rev. Ralph W. Howe,

Pittsfield

The writer is pastor of First United Methodist Church.


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