MHA Launches ‘Good to Go’ Program to Help Respite Clients with Basic Needs

SPRINGFIELD — “Adam” arrived at MHA’s Emergency Respite — a program which provides emergency-based housing and care for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, — with fairly severe cognitive disabilities, and was emotionally distraught when he arrived. To make matters worse, his shirt was soiled, his shorts were much too big, and his flip-flops were much too small. These inadequate clothes were everything he had.

“Even for someone whose career in nonprofits has brought me face to face with many tragic circumstances, Adam’s arrival at respite was profoundly sad to witness,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president of Resource Development and Branding for MHA. “I was relieved he was finally safe, but my heart just broke to know that someone would have mistreated such an incredibly fragile and vulnerable human being.”

According to Karyn Reigner, program director for MHA Emergency Respite, people arrive at respite because they have been removed from an abusive or neglectful environment. “No abuse is tolerable, but it’s even worse when the abuse focuses on someone who doesn’t have the voice or ability to say no or speak up for themselves, and worse still since an abuser is often a loved one,” she said. “When they arrive here, they need the simplest of things: a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, comb, pick, T-shirt, shorts, and undergarments. A decent tote bag to put their things in would be a plus.”

In response to this basic but urgent need, MHA launched “Good to Go,” a new initiative to supply every individual who arrives for emergency respite care with basic personal-care items. The plan is to provide these items in a sturdy totebag or backpack so, when permanent housing is arranged, each person can simply pack their own things in their own bag. In short, they’ll be good to go.

“Good to Go presents an incredible opportunity for businesses, community-service organizations, volunteer and student groups, individuals, or families to make an immediate, meaningful impact in the lives of vulnerable people escaping abuse or neglect,” said Lee. “I have seen the condition in which so many of these folks arrive at MHA. They need assistance, and quickly. By donating items or funds for Good to Go, you will support our participants who are truly in need of a soft landing.”

To learn more or to make a donation of funds or goods, contact Lee at (413) 233-5343 or klee@mhainc.org.

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