BRISTOL â€“ Brianâ€™s Angels Homeless Outreach is seeking donations and volunteers to help sort through them as the colder seasons approach and covid-19 has placed limitations on where the homeless can find shelter.
â€śWeâ€™re coming up on the winter season so weâ€™re seeking general funding,â€ť said Brianâ€™s Angels Founder Pat Stebbins. â€śWe need boots, hand-warmers and thermal underwear. Weâ€™re good on socks right now.â€ť
Stebbins said that the reason people are seeing more homeless people on street corners is that they are currently unable to come inside her building or The Agape House.
â€śThereâ€™s nowhere for them to go,â€ť she said. â€śEven the library is appointment only. I want to cry when I see the number of people out there. Itâ€™s all local people; Iâ€™m not bringing in people from out of town. But, I am seeming more faces that I havenâ€™t seen before or havenâ€™t seen in a while. People are struggling. There hasnâ€™t been another stimulus check and unemployment has run out. People need to eat.â€ť
Stebbins has said, however, that the city has done a â€śgreat jobâ€ť with getting food donations to those who need them. She also praised the efforts of the cityâ€™s Homeless Outreach Officer Marianne Farr. Farrâ€™s services are supported by both Brianâ€™s Angels and St. Vincent DePaul.
â€śSheâ€™s amazing,â€ť said Stebbins. â€śShe also works full-time at the Friendship Service Center in New Britain. Overall, she works about 20 hours a week to prevent people from having to sleep outside. She has been integral for getting people into the shelter.â€ť
Farr is the only person on Brianâ€™s Angelâ€™s Payroll. The rest of them are all volunteers. However, Stebbins said that expenses are still going up â€“ especially with covid-19 preventing them from having fundraisers like the â€śstuff a cruiserâ€ť events that they have relied on in the past.
The coronavirus has also resulted in volunteers being broken up into smaller groups who are operating in shifts of three or four people at a time.
â€śWeâ€™re trying to limit the potential for exposure,â€ť said Stebbins. â€śMost of our volunteers are retired.â€ť
Still, despite challenges, Stebbins remains committed to Brianâ€™s Angelsâ€™ mission to ensure that those who are struggling with homelessness do not go hungry. Brianâ€™s Angels is able to provide a hot meal for the homeless and also provide them with a snack bag to take with them containing sandwiches, water and juice.
â€śA lot of times someone will come and knock on our door and say that theyâ€™re sorry that they missed our regular hours and theyâ€™ll ask if they can still get a sandwich,â€ť said Stebbins. â€śI give them a backpack full of food. Thereâ€™s no reason for people to have to go hungry.â€ť
To donate to Brianâ€™s Angels, visit briansangels.org, mail checks to PO Box 2111 or visit them at 99 Summer St. during their open hours.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.