A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Open Pantry

Monday of this week was the monthly board meeting of Open Pantry Community Services. OP is a private, non-profit social service agency which helps people who are homeless, hungry, or disadvantaged. I sit on the board.

We run an emergency food pantry, daily meals at the Loaves and Fishes kitchen, several housing programs, and do case management, substance abuse counseling, and housing searches. Until this year, we also operated the Warming Place winter shelter. The city shut it down, though, in favor of their own programs. In fact, however, many homeless people refuse to use the city's Worthington Street shelters because of perceived rigidity of rules, lack of respect for guests, and element of danger.

Open Pantry is a typical non-profit social service agency in that it is always short of resources. No matter how generous the donations, the need is always greater. One possible way to raise cash would be to sell our building and move to a less pricey location. At a signalized intersection with a bus stop right in front, the new federal court house going up across the street, the central library, quadrangle of museums, and several elegant condominium properties all in the neighborhood, our offices are prime real estate. The buildings on either side are for sale; someone could theoretically buy up a strip, raze all the structures, and construct a new building. That's the kind of thing franchises do, paying top dollar when they've scouted out an ideal location.

The red brick box is graceless and featureless. But not half so ugly as a "99" restaurant surrounded by asphalt parking lot would be. Yikes!

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