I’m so happy to report our first collaborative media success across the region.

With the context of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the Network Steering Committee’s guidance,  Gerry McCafferty of the Springfield Housing Department and I produced a template opinion editorial for Network members to adapt locally by county.  And thanks to a true team effort, these opinion editorials are now appearing in each county’s major daily papers.

Yesterday, The Berkshire Eagle published an op-ed titled “Meet Challenge of Homelessness” by State Senator Ben Downing and Brad Gordon, executive director of Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, both Leadership Council members.  The op-ed also appeared on iberkshires.com.

Today, The Daily Hampshire Gazette published an op-ed on “‘Housing First’ Endeavor Tackles Challenge of Reducing Homelesness” by Northampton Mayor Clare Higgins, co-chair of The Pioneer Valley’s Plan to End Homelessness and Lynne Wallace, Leadership Council co-chair and Vice President of Operations for Dietz and Company Architects.

Next week, The Greenfield Recorder is slated to publish Franklin County’s op-ed by Robin Sherman, executive director of Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority (FCRHRA), Jane Sanders, executive director of Community Action and Leadership Council member and Father Stan Aksamit of Our Lady of Peace Parish of Turners Falls, also a Leadership Council member.  Additional thanks to Steering Committee member Joanne Glier of FCRHRA who helped facilitate this partnership.

Finally, The Springfield Republican will hopefully do the same with a Hampden County op-ed signed by Gerry McCafferty, acting director of the Springfield Housing Department, Dr. Evan Dobelle, chair of the Leadership Council and president of Westfield State College and Lynne Wallace, Leadership Council co-chair.  I will provide links to both publications as soon as they are available.

These editorials could not have happened  without the incredibly responsive and diligent work of so many Network members.  Each op-ed reflects each county’s unique history and efforts while communicating a shared mission that spans both the region and the state.  It is a powerful testament to what we can accomplish together.  And we have only just begun.  Thanks to you all for making it happen.

–Pamela Schwartz, regional coordinator

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