The Interfaith Winter Shelter is an emergency “overflow” shelter for homeless adults in Hampshire County, offering warm beds and hot meals from November through April. The 20-bed site is located in the basement of a professional office building at 43 Center Street in Northampton. A 6-bed annex in Easthampton accommodates the shelter’s overflow. The shelter is a cooperative effort among the City of Northampton, the 400+ volunteers of the Friends of the Hampshire County Homeless Individuals (the Friends) and Soldier On, and ServiceNet, which provides professional staffing.
The Friends of Hampshire County Homeless offers many kinds of help on a regular basis (see our home page under “How we help the homeless” and “Want to volunteer”), but equally heartwarming are many smaller ways of helping. One example is:
The Gift of Knitting
Each year a package of beautiful, hand-knitted, many-colored socks arrives in City Hall from Germany, addressed to Peg Keller, housing coordinator and one of the original founders of the Interfaith Shelter. The socks are gifts for the homeless from an unknown friend called Charlotte. This year we sent her a letter to express our thanks and it triggered the following information. Charlotte lived in the US for more than 40 years but did not become a citizen because she said her father would never have forgiven her. In 1995 she went back to Germany to care for her mother. She would have loved to return but her visa had expired and at this point in her life she needs her German pension, so she keeps us in her thoughts by knitting these wonderful socks. According to Charlotte there are no shelters like ours in Germany.
From socks to hats: a group of Smith students wanting to help the homeless keep warm formed a knitting group. One cold evening recently they arrived at the shelter bringing 15 lovely hand-knitted woolen hats that immediately found new owners.