Utica, N.Y.—Staff and volunteers from the Center for Family Life and Recovery, Erin’s light, and the Utica Police Department handed out blankets and hand warmers from ten this morning to four in the afternoon to those in need.
“The pandemic has really changed and turned everybody’s world upside down however the vulnerable populations that we serve as a behavioral health care agency such as the homeless, people with substance use disorders and mental health issues, their worlds have really been turned upside down,” Bonnie Carr, Director of Recovery Services at The Center For Family Life and Recovery said.
The first drop off location was Hope House, where volunteers dropped off a bag filled with blankets and hand warmers wrapped up with words of affirmation and informational cards about organizations in the community that are available to help.
“You know we’re giving blankets to people so that they know that they are cared for and that they do matter and it matters whether they are warm,” Erin Wiggins, Recovery Coordinator at The Center For Family Life and Recovery said. “It matters if they are cold and for me that’s what it’s really about. It’s about giving back to others because that’s all I ever wanted when I was in that space was just to have someone who actually truly valued me as a person.”
In between drop-offs, Utica Police Officers brought volunteers to places they knew the homeless population congregated. Almost 1 in 3 people in Utica live below the poverty line and the number of homeless people is also on the rise with a 15% increase from last year.
“If we can touch one person’s heart to seek some type of recovery for mental health or addiction,” Carr said. “We’ve done our job.”