"It Takes a Community..." by Kelly Blackburn
The weather is starting to turn towards spring, but just a couple of weeks ago, we had one of those bitter cold New England weekends. For most of us, we are able to turn up the heat and stay sheltered from the weather. Especially on days like those, I think about how tough it must be if you don’t have easy access to things some of us take for granted– proper clothes, ability to pay the oil bill, a roof over your head. I remember how fortunate I am to be able to wait out the winter freeze in a home I call my own. I am also reminded how fortunate we all are that there are many others who help those who do not have that luxury.
Hildebrand is one of those others – an organization that works with families experiencing homelessness. Their vision, to ensure that every family has a home, is embodied by the day-to-day work that they do to help families move towards sustainable, permanent housing. They work with and in our community to help others get in out of the cold permanently.
I became involved with Hildebrand through a local church where I was a member. Hildebrand has its roots in the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge and they embrace that history by maintaining ties with local churches as well as other community-based organizations. The Executive Director at the time was starting a new program to help families maintain housing stability, additional support to keep families in homes once they found a place to transition. I didn’t know a lot about Hildebrand at the time, but I believed then and now that community engagement is critical to the success of all its constituents. I could see that Hildebrand was leveraging that idea and wanted to be a part of it.
I have since learned firsthand about Hildebrand and its commitment to the community and the clients they serve as I have served on the board of directors for 7 years. It is energizing to be part of an organization that is emerging as a leader in the complex world of homelessness. Hildebrand is continuously striving to understand the changing environment, find relevant and feasible solutions to the challenges families face, and, most importantly, to have a vision of how the future could look. With a new Chief Executive Officer on board, Shiela Y. Moore, and an incredibly dedicated staff, it is hard not to have enthusiasm for what they do. Listen to any staff member excitedly talk about a family who moved into an apartment, the father’s nurturing program, or delivering turkeys before Thanksgiving, and you cannot help but be impressed by the enthusiasm and great work of the staff. The staff and the families they serve do not always have easy days. The obstacles they face are numerous. Knowing the landscape of housing and what it takes to support a family and to identify and maintain stable permanent housing is quite an undertaking.
The face of homelessness is changing; we are seeing more families and more young people entering the system and re-entering the system. Globally, many more families are being displaced and homeless without adequate refuge due to civil unrest. Every community is facing the challenge of ensuring basic needs for all its constituents. We will need more community-based efforts to make it happen. We will need organizations like Hildebrand to continue to grow and lead the way in finding the right solutions to solve the homeless dilemma.
This winter, most of us have a warm place to wait out the cold; Hildebrand’s vision is that every family has that comfort. Please check out their website or reach out if you want to learn more.