SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has awarded $50,000 to help provide shelter to those in need during the winter.

The $50,000 grant helped provide hotels as emergency shelters in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties during below-freezing temperatures. During dangerously cold wind chills with temperatures below zero from Feb. 2nd through the 3rd, funds from the Community Foundation helped provide shelter to there were 86 people in need.

“This was just an opportunity to help relieve some of those issues for folks in our region, you know with the rising costs of goods and utilities obviously, homelessness and people experiencing homelessness is growing in our region and it’s a real real problem,” said Jeffery Markham Jr., Program Officer at Community Foundation.

“When our shelters are at capacity at a time of extreme cold, these funds have been nothing short of life-saving for dozens of individuals,” said Theresa Nicholson, Housing and Shelter Director for Center for Human Development, the agency administering the funds in partnership with Craig’s Doors of Amherst.  

Craig’s Doors, a non-profit organization located on 424 N Pleasant St. in Amherst, has provided shelter to residents for over a decade. Craig’s Doors operates at different locations such as church basements, assembly spaces, and renting rooms at the University Motor Lodge. 

“It is important to us that we continue our support and assist in meeting the heightened needs of people in the region, especially in these winter months,” said Meredith Lewis, Director of Community Impact for the Community Foundation.  

“We are so fortunate to have such committed partners in this work,” noted Pamela Schwartz, Director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness. “The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts brings the meaning of community collaboration to a whole new level.”

“We are so glad we could fill this critical gap in these last 2 years,” said Lewis. “And we’re especially thrilled that state funding will step in later this year to support a more system-wide response.” 

“We are looking forward to implementing a proven model that will reduce homelessness and keep more people housed in western Massachusetts,” Nicholson said.  “For now, we are maximizing every single Foundation dollar to keep people safe.”  

Founded in 1991, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has allocated a total of $125,000 to meet emergency shelter needs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Foundation manages an endowment of $250 million.

If you would like to donate, you can do it online, or you can send a check to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, 333 Bridge Street, Springfield, MA 01103.