Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Place for the Homeless

The First Presbyterian Church of Waltham, MA is in the news. This is from Tuesday's Daily News Tribune:

Eben Forbes is asking residents to help the city's homeless and low-income residents.

Only three weeks on the job as executive director of the Community Day Center of Waltham Inc., Forbes is familiarizing himself with his patrons and trying to raise money.

The center, located in the First Presbyterian Church at 34 Alder St., provides counseling, Internet access and a warm place to rest during the day.

"There's shelters where people can spend the night and there's soup kitchens," the 39-year-old Cambridge resident said. "But between lunch and dinner there's really no place for a homeless person to go."

The center also provides crisis counseling and referrals to resources that can help the homeless.

"People with serious substance abuse issues or psychological issues, our hope is they are receiving counseling with mental health professionals," Forbes said. "We are here as a backstop for those people and a big part of what we do is make referrals. We'll give them crisis counseling and then refer them to a specialist."

With the winter months ahead, Forbes said he is expecting an increase in the number of people who use the facility. To prepare for this, Forbes is asking for donations and volunteers.

"We definitely do expect it to be busier with the foreclosure crisis," he said. "There are a lot of low income level populations in Waltham, who are barely living within margins, who could lose housing. This is a very easy time to become homeless. We're starting to see that already."

New Executive Director of the Community Day Center of Waltham Inc. Eben Forbes. Photo: Jeff Gilbride/Daily News staff

Forbes said the center averages about 30 patrons a day during the summer months and up to 70 per a day in the winter months.

He previously worked in a daytime homeless shelter in New York City from 1998 to 2000, helping people transition into group homes or halfway houses.

"I was a housing specialist for a large drop-in facility. It's sort of the same function as here," Forbes said. "The homeless population in Waltham is sort of different, so I've been sorting out the differences and calculating my approach to this new position."

In the past three weeks, Rob Mark, the former executive director, has been helping Forbes transition into his new role.

"I've been in the unique position that Rob Mark, the outgoing director, he's still physically here during various times during the week," Forbes said. "He's now co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. He's here to ensure a smooth transition so I'm grateful for that."

The center is currently collecting Christmas stockings and items such as food and toiletries, to place inside.

This is an active church. Check out Rob Mark's blog, too.

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1 comment:

Rev. Rob Mark said...

Thanks for the shout-out and kind words!! Peace on earth to you and your ministry this advent, Rob