Lexington Sheltered Families
Those who have been following local news will be aware that there has been a large influx of migrants to the Boston area in recent months. Because of Massachusetts’ Right-to-shelter law, and because the usual homeless shelters were full, many families have been placed in hotels around the region
On or around October 20, six families were placed by the state at a hotel in Lexington. Over the next couple of weeks 24 more families arrived, for a total of 30, split between two hotels. The state provides the hotel and three meals a day, and is engaged in registering these families for on-going services, such as MassHealth and SNAP. The National Guard has a presence every day, providing an anchor to humanitarian support. The town of Lexington health department is engaged in evaluating vaccination status and other basic health concerns, and the school department has registered 17 kids, who will be attending 3 different schools.
Fairly soon after their arrival, organizations and faith communities in Lexington learned about this and began networking, forming a loose coalition bonded by the sense that we need to help those in our midst who have been less fortunate than the average Lexington citizen. Formula and diapers were provided, after some initial contact with the National Guard members to learn what the most immediate needs were. First Parish set up: 1) an Amazon wish list for on-going personal needs, 2) An account which would accept monetary donations to support these families and 3) a form allowing potential volunteers to come forward for as-yet-undefined volunteer roles. Two volunteers who speak Haitian Creole, plus a few others, created a census of the people living there, with family makeup, country of origin, and clothing sizes. Since the next-most urgent need was clothing for folks who had originated in warmer climes, a number of volunteers used a portion of the money that had been raised, to buy winter coats and shoes for all the residents. These were purchased and delivered over the Nov. 11-12 weekend. This was followed by an initial clothing drive to provide all residents with a few changes of basic clothes. We expect this to be followed by another drive to expand the range of clothing options, possibly including one set of better clothes to wear to church and/or asylum hearings.
This loose coalition includes participants from First Parish, Grace Chapel, Church of Our Redeemer, Sacred Heart/St. Brigid’s, Temple Isaiah, LexRAP, and the Lexington Community Coalition. We are currently working towards: setting up an English as a second Language (ESL) program; considering how volunteers can provide rides for both urgent situations and shopping; hoping to help set up some babysitting for the children who are not in school; and intending to coordinate supplemental food, to build on the meals already provided.
This work will certainly evolve over time as the migrants get work authorization, and begin to look for jobs and housing
Ways to Help
Note: Please do not drop items at the hotels.
The coalition has set up a fund to provide for immediate needs. Contribute at: Sheltered Families Fund.
In the longer term, there will be many needs, such as ESL, drivers, and activities for the kids. We also will ask for books, toys, and clothing donations from the community.
If you can help please fill in this form: Sheltered Families Help Form.
There is an Amazon gift list for consumables such as formula and diapers, which we will keep updated: Lex Sheltered Families Supplies.
We do not have storage for donations at this time. We are asking the community to please DO NOT drop off donated items to any locations or individuals.
We will provide an update once a centralized location has been identified.