Bedford builds a coalition to care for transitionally housed families

Nearly two years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts began to place unhoused families from all over the Boston area at a small motel in Bedford for stays from one to five months.  Over the past year, parishioners from St. Paul's Church in Bedford have partnered with other faith communities in the town, the Bedford Department of Youth and Families Services and other community leaders to form a community task force to provide care and support to these families. 

"The purpose of this group is, of course, to provide services to families who have been uprooted from their familiar home communities and resource networks," the Rev. Christopher Wendell, Rector of St. Paul's, said.  "But it is also to transform the dynamic within the town from one of guarded concern about these new residents to one of hospitality and neighborliness." 

Charlie Card In addition to providing community meals, presents at Christmas time, free shopping at the parish thrift sale and hand-knit blankets for the newborns in the community, members of St. Paul's also applied for and received a House of Mercy grant from the diocese to provide Charlie Cards to family members so they could use the MBTA bus line in Bedford to access recreation resources in the town during the summer months. 

The distribution was so successful, that the community task force has asked St. Paul's to apply for another round of funding for the program.  Other faith communities provide different kinds of support, including clothing, toys, passes to the town water park and installation of laundry facilities in the motel.  The town leaders provide help accessing municipal resources for children and families.  "This task force is a wonderful example of how interfaith and local government collaboration can drive community transformation and invite a deeper experience of reconciliation within a town," Wendell said.