[Hpn] Group backs 'drop-in' homeless shelter;Barre, VT
Morgan W. Brown
Sun, 17 Dec 2000 11:30:34 -0500
Note: Recipient list undisclosed
An update -- FYI:
Sunday, December 17, 2000
Group backs 'drop-in' homeless shelter
By DAVID DELCORE
BARRE - An informal coalition that recently galvanized
behind the idea of creating a warm place for homeless
residents to spend a few hours during the day may have
to rekindle its search for that space.
In the span of a few short hours late last week the group
went from celebrating how far it had come in such a short
period of time to wondering how things had unraveled so
The group, which includes local clergy, social workers,
concerned residents and city officials, heard during a
Thursday morning meeting that they had had all but
sewed up permission to use two rooms in the rear of the
Barre Senior Citizens Center on Main Street. They were
elated. They have since learned that they need to attend
to a few more details.
"I think everybody should be applauded for the amount
of work that has been done and what you have
accomplished," housing specialist Claude Arsenault said,
after hearing that the drop-in center, first suggested by
Barre resident George Dickey, might open as soon as
Piero Bonamico, a Barre man who had eagerly
volunteered to staff the center when it opened on
Monday, was equally enthusiastic.
"Two weeks ago we didn't know where we were going
to go," Bonamico said in his thick Italian accent. "Now
we have a place to go."
The optimism has proven slightly premature, though.
Members who left the meeting thinking their biggest
problem would be finding volunteers to staff the center on
a daily basis, soon learned the one hurdle they thought
they'd cleared remained a major question mark.
Paul Mascitti, who spearheaded the search for a place
for the day shelter and, with an assist from Mayor Harry
Monti, thought he'd solved that problem, said his
announcement about the rooms at the senior center was
Although a representative of the senior center did indicate
that the rooms might be available for the group's use,
Mascitti said the idea hadn't yet been discussed or
approved by the club's board. That process will take time
and there is no guarantee the space will be available in the
end, he said.
"It's disheartening," said Mascitti, who had hoped the
shelter would be open before Christmas addressing a
community concern that has heightened since the onset of
Mascitti, executive director of the Good Samaritan
Haven in Barre, said as much during Thursday's meeting.
"The primary motivation has been the oncoming winter
and, of course, it's upon us today," he said referring to the
snow that was still piling up Thursday morning.
"If we had to move this meeting out into the parking lot
right now I think in five minutes we'd all be pretty
motivated," he predicted.
Despite the setback, Mascitti and other members of the
group say they are committed to finding a place for the
center. That place they say may be at the senior center,
or possibly some other location in Barre.
"We're not quitting," said Herman Benjamin, pastor of the
Barre Presbyterian Church. "I can't see this failing. It's
just going to take time."
Benjamin said he hoped a meeting with members of the
senior center's board would dispel any concerns they
might have about a project many of them have only heard
about anecdotally. Bringing together people like Mascitti,
Monti, Dickey, and Bonamico to discuss their shared
vision might go a long way toward sealing the project.
Bonamico was particularly passionate about the project
that he said has the potential to become something "much
bigger" than a center for the homeless.
"My dream is a 'people place' that is open to everybody,"
he said, apologizing for being unable to fully articulate his
"I don't know how to say it…but I can see it," he said.
For the time being, Bonamico will have to wait, according
to Benjamin. He said securing space probably won't
happen until next month.
"T…I…M…E, that's the word," he said. "It's going to
take a while to settle it, just like the election."
Group backs 'drop-in' homeless shelter:
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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