The Welcome Mat
Newsletter of the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter
As a reminder, the annual Candlelight Vigil will be held on the steps of the Peterborough Town House this Friday, Dec. 21st (the Winter Solstice, the National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day) at 5 PM. Some people might gather first at the Peterborough United Methodist Church on Concord St. at 4:45 (where you can leave your cars) and walk to the Town House together. Then at 5, we will remember the people who are homeless in our state, especially those who have died during the past year. After the Vigil, there will be a free “Stone Soup” supper at the Methodist Church for all attendees, sponsored by the Methodist, the Union Congregational and All Saints churches. Following the supper, there will be an open mic opportunity. Also, if you attend this event, you might want to bring an item from the MATS Wish List (below) and leave them at the church.
Many people in our area do not know the history of how the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter began. Back in 1991, three local ministers were often asked by some people if they might sleep in the church to get out of the elements; this alerted the ministers about a need to help people without shelter. They assembled a group of civically-minded people who then formed a committee to start what became MATS. (At this writing, my only connection to MATS is writing these monthly articles. It wasn’t until 1999 that I first joined the organization.)
The original committee rented an apartment where people could spend a few nights, a week or two until they could find more permanent shelter; a few nights in a safe and warm place were a blessing to them. Meanwhile, a Board was formed that filed for 501c3 status and began to raise money to pay for the apartment and other necessities for it. A local resident was soon hired as the first Case Manager to guide these people toward state agencies that might help fulfill their needs, apply for food stamps, and eventually find a place of their own.
The location of our building is not made public because often a family or individual is at MATS having left an abusive situation. We do have a person in a fifth apartment who takes care of our outside maintenance as well as insures that our guests are safe and abiding by the rules.
Today, the shelter is still run by volunteer Board members from several local communities in addition to our full- time Program Manager, Susan Howard. Due to the rising costs of rentals in the region, people experience a much longer stay at the shelter – several months or even up to a year or more – in order to budget for their own apartment and lives when they leave MATS.
As the first Case Manager did, Susan guides our guests to apply for various state programs, for food stamps, to get their GED if they don’t have a High School diploma, find childcare if needed, learn better budgeting practices, and to visit The River Center on Vose Road to find a new or better job as well as to take advantage of the many other programs available there.
Because MATS does not receive state or federal funds we are not an emergency shelter; we are a transitional shelter. As such, we rely on monetary donations from local citizens, businesses, churches and other organizations, and we greatly appreciate all the gifts that help us continue this much-needed program.
As a transitional shelter, we require that potential guests be interviewed by Susan and two Board members. Applicants must agree to a criminal background check, to not smoke or have alcohol in the building, and adhere to other house rules where our four apartments are located. When possible, they pay a small monthly stipend to MATS as a way to ‘practice’ for their rental payments after they leave the shelter.
Recently, a car was donated to MATS by a resident at RiverMead, and we are very grateful to that person. In our rural area, people need their own transportation to get to their job. Yet, for some, if their car breaks down, they may lose that job causing them to also lose their home or apartment, which in turn may cause their need to apply to MATS.
We thank the many local citizens who have offered the Shaw’s Saver Stamps to MATS so that we may acquire items that improve our apartments and/or that we can give to residents when they leave to set up their own home. THANK YOU TO ALL!
Everyone at MATS wishes you all a wonderful holiday season, and a new year filled with many blessings and joy.
Hope Pettegrew is a volunteer at the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter in Peterborough.
always, a reliable car
pampers, pullups, and wipes
Shaw’s Saver Stamps (must be redeemed by December 27)
gift cards from local businesses that our guests can use when they need certain items many of which are not covered by food stamps
If you have items to donate, please call MATS office at 924-5033 and leave a message for Susan. Or mail items (if you can) to PO Box 3053, Peterborough NH 03458. Thank you!
NOVEMBER MATS FACTS:
We had 9 families contact MATS
6 single people
10 community members or agencies
TRC contacts / prevention: 16 contacts
We raised $838 on Giving Tuesday! Thank you so much to everyone who helped!
Thank you to Divine Mercy Church for our Thanksgiving Dinners!
Thank you to Peterborough Garden Club for the baskets!
Thank you to all the people who donated Saver Stamps, we have received so many in the past 2 weeks!
STONE SOUP NIGHT
4:45 Meet at Peterborough United Methodist Church on Friday, December 21, 2018 at 4:45 pm for a Candlelit Procession to the Town House.
Park at the UCC, PUMC, or All Saints.
5:00 The vigil is outside the Peterborough Town House at 5:00 pm.
(If you need to stay out of the rain please join us at…)
6:00 Please join us for Stone Soup Night at Peterborough United Methodist Church immediately following the vigil.
You may bring an item to contribute from the MATS WISH LIST:
Shaw’s Saver Stamps; gift cards from local stores; personal care items; feminine products; diapers or pull-ups; baby wipes; paper products; laundry soap
Donations will be accepted, please make checks payable to “Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter”
THE PEOPLE WE SERVE:
Never Say Never
As I reached for the phone, my breathing got shallow, my heart raced and anxiety consumed me. The telephone receiver felt like it weighed 500 pounds. I feared to call for help. All I knew was if I didn’t find shelter, I would be sleeping in my car in the cold. Autumn was here, and winter was coming.
How did I get myself into this situation? I never thought I would need shelter assistance. Divorce, career changes, life changes, and circumstances are what got me. Now I was unemployed.
The possible shame of asking for help kept me slowly sliding down a thin thread, and I didn’t know if it would suddenly break or if I would fall off. I finally let go, surrendering and asking for the outcome of this situation to be taken from me. With this short prayer, I dialed the MATS number.
When I met a volunteer at the MATS shelter I was shocked when we drove up the driveway of a building I recognized. I remembered and smiled, thinking this must be a way of teaching me some humility and living down another “never.” Years ago my pregnant wife and two children were shown this very building by a real estate rental agent. After stepping one foot into the building I arrogantly proclaimed, “We will need a more suitable environment. I would never live in a place like this.” This time, my initial reaction was to cordially thank the volunteer for his time, because I had no place else to go.
-Based on a story by a shelter resident in MATS newsletter Spring 2000
DID YOU KNOW?
There are an estimated 553,742 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night, according to the most recent national point-in-time estimate (January 2017).
YOU CAN HELP
MATS has online giving. We use the PayPal cart to facilitate secure credit card payments, you don’t have to have a PayPal account. You can make a one-time donation or a recurring monthly donation at www.matsnh.org/mats-donate
Support MATS with Amazon Smile: Visit http://smile.amazon.com. You will be prompted to select a non-profit to support. We are listed as Monadnock Area Transitional Sheltering. Shop as normal, starting from smile.amazon.com, and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to MATS.
Donate. We use the PayPal cart to process donations. You may use your credit card or PayPal account.