Friends of the Homeless Celebrate Re-opening of the Annex Building
What a great day! Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and Friends of the Homeless (FOH) came together to celebrate the renovation of our
Annex Building at 501-503 Worthington Street and the innovation of two new retail partners who are joining FOH to help people move forward in their journey from homelessness. Just 10 months ago, a gas explosion resulted in the loss of housing for 18 FOH clients. “I'm proud to say that then, and in all the months that followed, this community has rallied to rebuild and reimagine what's possible,” stated Bill Miller, Executive Director of FOH.
According to Bill Miller, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts went above and beyond to assist FOH's tenants who were displaced while the building was being repaired. Their leadership, along with a $25,000 matching grant from the NiSource Foundation helped to secure additional funding from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation which allowed FOH to envision a better future. That vision included new partnerships and valuable space to do our work.
Stephen Bryant, president of Columbia Gas Massachusetts, attended the ceremony, and stated "These people didn't need this in their lives, none of us does. It disrupted and unsettled their health, their homes, their businesses," Bryant said. "But, in the end it's been very positive."
The first floor of 501-503 Worthington Street has been returned to the retail space it was once created for. Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts is our new tenant, offering women the clothes and support they need to return to the workplace. Bay Path College and its students stepped up to help FOH realize a dream of a better way to accept and distribute donations. The students will be operating a donation center in the Annex to better meet the needs of FOH clients.
Friends of the Homeless is a 501c3 organization founded more than 20 years ago to serve the homeless population in the greater Springfield area and now operates the largest adult homeless shelter in Western Mass providing services for men and women over 18 years of age. The shelter and housing complex is supported by case management aimed at obtaining and maintaining permanent housing. “What we’re not interested in is allowing people to be warehoused,” commented Bill Miller. FOH has a dedicated team of employees, volunteers and contributors who work tirelessly toward that goal.