Letter: We should not turn our backs on those in need

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To the editor:

I would like to offer some thoughts in regard to the most recent discussions and meetings in reference to the use of a portion of the First Methodist Church in Pittsfield as a shelter for those who have found themselves to be homeless or living well below the poverty line and unable to generate the income needed to change that circumstance. ("Downtown shelter idea sparks resistance," Eagle, July 22.)

There are many who oppose providing shelter and basic needs for our most needy citizens. I've listened to talk of drugs and violence and poor sanitation habits and devaluation of property, but I wonder what it means when we devalue human life in deference to the projected value of a brick-and-mortar structure.

I believe much of this stems from a fear of the unknown. We each have grown up with prejudices of various forms. It would be hard not to. We learn from or environment and those surrounding us in our early childhood. We learn to fear poverty and uncleanliness and homelessness. We don't usually call it fear but, I believe that in truth, fear is the driving force. One that can take on many shapes.

I can say that because I have lived it. Many years ago, I decided to volunteer at St. Stephen's table where we provide meals for anyone who walks through our doors.

I served meals and chatted nervously a bit but I had no idea how to talk to "those people." I did, however, meet one woman there that we were serving who had a child too young to eat anything. I did get her some milk and then on the way home bought baby food, wipes and a sippy cup. No child should not be fed. I've now been serving at the table for over 10 years. I am also a member of the board of directors for Cathedral of the Beloved, and those that once I could not relate to are now some of my dearest friends. When out and about, I smile when I see each of them. I know their stories and they know mine and they are much the same. What little I can give to them cannot be compared to what I receive.

So, I invite each of you to come to the Allen Street entrance of St. Stephen's at 1 p.m. on any Sunday. Let us introduce you to our family. Taste and see love.

David Nevin,

Pittsfield

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