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To the Editor:
I help lead the nonprofit organization, Journey Home. I love my work and am passionate about our cause. I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and actually left the church to do this work – ending homelessness is my singular focus.
Journey Home is a wonderful organization based in Hartford with two warehouse locations in West Hartford at 635 New Park Ave. We do a whole lot to help end homelessness in the Capital region. One of the many things that we do is provide free furniture and household goods to people moving from homelessness to housing. We have been able to move this furniture with our two 15-foot box trucks.
In late July the catalytic converters were stolen out of our trucks for the second time in a year. We knew that once we found the funding to repair the trucks (over $4,000) we had to find them a new home.
We put out an ask to our friends and supporters. The wonderful people of St. James’s Episcopal Church and the Rev. Bob Hooper stepped in and allowed us to park our trucks in their lot. This was a perfect solution to our problem – a well-lit lot in a busy area. Also, many of our volunteers who drive the trucks live in West Hartford and many of our donations come from West Hartford residents. It really was a win-win for us.
Unfortunately, the church was recently notified that a neighbor has filed complaints with the town’s Planning and Zoning Division about the trucks being in the parking lot and we are being instructed to have them moved. The trucks sit there (although they are on the road 7 days a week) in the lot minding their own business. The cost of garaging them is beyond our budget. The threat of having them vandalized again looms large. It is such an unfortunate situation and I wonder if the neighbor who has complaining understands the impact of all of this.
Many people in this town contact me about what they can do to help the homeless situation. My new answer? Help eradicate NIMBYism and look at the bigger picture.
We are providing free furniture to formerly homeless vets, children, women, men. We can’t do it if we have to spend thousands on safely storing our truck. This was a solution to save valuable resources and pour more dollars into the community.
A huge thanks again to the amazing people of St. James’s and to Bob Hooper – you all are the best and helped us tremendously when we were in a pinch. I also want to thank Brian Pudlik in the Planning and Zoning Division for his kindness and sensitivity to this issue – he has been nothing but kind and professional and I understand that he is in a tough position.
It’s a shame that any of this had to happen because of one persistent, crabby neighbor.
Sara Wilson (Salomons)