Small acts help during times of heightened homelessness

To the Editor:

Small acts change the world.

This five-word statement hangs in the lobby of the Beth-El Center, painted on a plain wooden sign that could easily blend in as most art eventually does. Instead it appears to stand out, with most new visitors or guests commenting daily on its truthfulness because it is the spirit of our center.

As we bring the intentions, goals and struggles of 2018 to a close and look forward to the work ahead, I admire that despite how many small acts are needed to meet the needs of those we serve, the community continues to offer contributions to change the world. Through volunteerism, in-kind and monetary donations and advocacy, our supporters continue to tackle the ever-changing needs of those experiencing homelessness and hunger in our community knowing that is takes your small acts, and the acts of others, to accomplish our community goals.

Last year brought us both challenges and great success. We have experienced an increased need for our public soup kitchen services as we now serve more than 10 additional guests per day. We’ve also seen an increase in those who are unsheltered in our community, seeking refuge in public spaces and looking for safety while reconciling hard realities with opportunities for help. We’ve seen the complexity of barriers and needs for those admitted to our 90-day shelter program grow and our No Freeze winter emergency shelter remains at capacity nightly. This is when small acts have the greatest impact.

Because of our supporters, we have had the resources to serve more people effectively in 2018. Last year, Beth-El Center’s Soup Kitchen was able to serve approximately 29,000 meals over the course of the year. Additionally, we were able to support more individuals, veterans and families in our 90-day shelter program than in years past. In 2018, we served a total of 128 singles, veterans and families — the 26 families included 47 children in total.

With this, I sincerely thank the community for the small acts as they continue to change our world. Because of you, we look to 2019 from a position of hope and strength.

Jennifer Paradis

Executive Director Beth-El Center