By Eleni Karavoussianis
Lynn Shelter Association Succeeds in Style
In the streets of Massachusetts at the very moment, there are 13,000 homeless and about 16 percent of that population consists of children. There are many in Lynn that have nowhere to be warm and safe, according to Lynn Shelter Association Executive Director Mark Evans, addressing the crowd that was seated on floor-model furniture upstairs at Zimman’s on Market Street in downtown Lynn.
On the night of November 17, 2018, the Lynn Shelter Association (LSA) sought to take steps in ending that plague through their Succeed in Style fundraiser.
“These people are vibrant, necessary, and are vital parts in contributing to the community,” Mark Evans, Executive Director of LSA said.
This was the third year of the Succeed in Style event. The night consisted of an hour of hors d’oeuvres, followed by a fashion show, speeches and an appeal. The models were various clients of LSA and wore ball gowns and suits. There was also an accompanying silent auction to raise money to the organization.
They were hoping for an attendance of at least 125 to match last year’s, and one attendee by the name of Edith Weiss noted there were at least that many on the 2nd floor of Zimman’s on Market Street.
“The goal is to raise the profile of homelessness in Lynn and to understand those who are vulnerable and disenfranchised,” Evans said.
LSA’s impact on the community it serves was made clear that night with pamphlets of statistics on how their programs affected the client’s lives. There was an 80 percent decrease in hospital visits, 73 percent decrease in ambulance usages and a 96 percent decrease in incarcerations.
The program prioritizes housing first and doesn’t insist that the clients need to do something to earn basic human rights like shelter. They are provided a roof to be given a chance to move on with their lives.
An attendee there for the second time said her favorite bit had been hearing the speakers share their experiences, some as past shelter clients. Edith Weiss firmly believed that the association needs the community to support events like this to raise awareness and pull in more volunteers.
“It provides more insight and much more appreciation of what it takes to run an organization like this,” Weiss said.
And it does take a lot to run such an organization, but in the long-run the results are well worth it. Sheila Maiben is a board member at LSA who once was a client, and who had struggles with mental illness and addiction, which seem to be bearings of homelessness in society. But she didn’t have to do X, Y, and Z to get into the program, and is five-years sober.
“We need LSA for everyone, not just certain people,” Maiben said. “And I too, deserve a place to live.”
By the end, five pledged $500 which will pay for one year of housing. Eight paid $250 to cover sheltering an individual for a week. Twenty-four paid $100 to assist the homeless with buying clothing to provide opportunity for self-esteem. And nine donated $50 to pay for youth school supplies.
“Humanity is here tonight,” master of ceremonies, Brian Castellanos said when talking about his own experience with homelessness as an unoccupied youth at 17. He had to stand on so many shoulders, and the insecurity of not knowing where he may sleep when the night came had long-lasting effects into his adulthood. “The hope to beat the cycle came from people like you
Eleni Karavoussianis is a recent Roger Williams University graduate and a 22-year-old freelance journalist. She hopes to one day focus her writing on the judicial system or entertainment news. You can find her @eleni_karav on twitter.