Amherst Town Manager John Musante announced today that the opening of the emergency shelter at the First Baptist Church at 434 North Pleasant Street will be postponed by two weeks until November 15th. Town officials and shelter operator Milestone Ministries decided that it was in the best interest of serving the homeless to wait until later in the month. Jack Desroches, Executive Director of Milestone Ministries said, “The Town and Milestone have been working closely with Jerry Gates of the First Baptist Church to balance all the factors of opening on November 1st. We have determined that waiting makes the most sense and will give us the best chance for success in serving the homeless this winter.”
The short delay in opening is a practical matter linked to the timing of various state approvals needed for the permanent shelter. Town and Milestone staff are now completing all the necessary applications for a 35-day temporary emergency shelter permit that will allow the facility to open. Milestone and the Town are reluctant to open the shelter and trigger the 35-day temporary permit until such time as there is a more definitive date upon which all state sprinkler and building permits and building improvements will be complete. While that process moves forward staff and volunteers are actively ordering supplies, completing required trainings and seeking donations of food and materials. Improvements to the building are scheduled to include the addition of showers and upgrades to the sprinkler system.
The later opening is also influenced by the current extended period of mild temperatures. “Moving the opening date is driven by our compassion for serving the homeless. We want to minimize the chances of an interruption of service later this winter when temperatures will be much colder.” said Mr. Musante. Last year, the Town’s warming shelter opened in December.
Contact: John Musante, 413-259-3002