'Ashamed' community hasn't supported Loaves

To the Editor:

As citizens of the town of New Milford, we should be ashamed of ourselves with respect to the treatment of Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House.

I am personally ashamed because I never took the time to go to the public hearings and speak in support of this valuable community neighbor.

I have been appalled by the negative rhetoric surrounding Loaves & Fishes' attempts to secure a new location.

Once again, the silent majority did not step up and speak out in defense of Loaves & Fishes. Week after week, there have been nasty, unfounded accusations regarding those who depend on Loaves & Fishes for their meals.

There have been innuendos about the seniors frequently at the Senior Center being fearful of the patrons at Loaves & Fishes, public defecation and urination, along with other baseless statements.

Shame on us.

Personally, I will no longer support Mayor Murphy, who has seriously failed the community by declining to involve herself.

Her arm's length approach is unconscionable.

The Zoning Commission is a joke, and not one of those on the commission will ever get my vote in the future.

When atrocities like the birdcage on the green and the trashy looking new diner get town approval, but a community service organization gets no support, I question those making the decisions.

I think this should be put to a referendum for a community response. As always, the same narrow-minded people step forward and act as though they speak for all.

My mother frequented the Senior Center prior to her death last year and never had a complaint regarding the operation of Loaves & Fishes and the people it served.

In fact, she was an avid supporter of Loaves & Fishes and all that it stands for.

Through the generosity of Dan Straub's widow, Loaves & Fishes had the opportunity to expand its services and resources to further assist those going through troubled times.

Unfortunately, we as a community did not embrace or support their efforts. Instead, we have allowed bullies to undermine the efforts to improve the community.

The facts cannot be denied. There are those who are homeless and need shelter and there are those who are unable to adequately afford nutritional food.

Turning our back on the problem does not make it go away. Rather than take responsibility for the homeless, the town has left that for the area churches to deal with.

The community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Loaves & Fishes and the churches for dealing with social problems that are not going to magically go away.

We cannot pretend the problems do not exist.

I have a suggestion regarding the entire issue.

Since it was decided by a marginal vote that John Pettibone School be closed, but proponents want it to remain open, I would offer the following suggestions:

1) That a portion of the school remain available for future use as classrooms; and

2) The Board of Education vacate the Catherine Lillis building on East Street and be relocated to the John Pettibone School.

The Catherine Lillis building on East Street could be given or leased to Loaves & Fishes for development as a food kitchen, food pantry, homeless shelter and the resource center they are proposing.

Because they fill a function that should be a town obligation, they should not be charged more than minimal rental.

It would also be an ideal spot for Social Services.

Let's be positive and constructively move forward. It is time that we make our voices heard and let it be known that we are a kind and caring community willing to be part of the solution and not the problem.

Let us remember the old adage "there but for the grace of God go I."

Wendy A. Lindblom

New Milford