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Helping hands
BOSTON – Members of the 66th Medical Squadron pose for a group photo outside the Pine Street Inn after cooking and feeding more than 200 homeless men and women from around Boston. The Pine Street Inn offer alternatives to homeless men and women through a comprehensive range of programs and services. (Courtesy photo)
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MDS personnel assist local shelter

Posted 3/20/2014   Updated 3/20/2014 Email story   Print story


by Dawn Shewmaker
66th Medical Squadron

3/20/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- Ten members of the 66th Medical Squadron recently volunteered serving and preparing meals at a emergency homeless shelter in Boston as part of a community service initiative organized at the squadron.

"We are grateful for the service and support from Hanscom Air Force Base," said Scottie Wait, Pine Street Inn Volunteer Programs director. "Volunteers prepared food and assisted with meal production for more than 500 meals for 300 shelter guests."

Wait went on to highlight that in addition to serving meals, volunteers donated more than 100 winter hats.

"We are delighted to have this partnership with Hanscom Air Force Base and look forward to future service dates," he said.

The number of volunteers from the clinic willing to volunteer was so great that organizers had to turn volunteers away.

"The outpouring of support from MDS personnel and their desire to volunteer has resulted in the clinic scheduling additional dates to volunteer with staff from the Pine Street Inn," said Master Sgt. Nicholas Souza, 66th Medical Squadron first sergeant and one of the 10 volunteers.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Massachusetts has seen a dramatic increase in homelessness over the past few years.

Boston shelter staffs often see an increased seasonal and regional demand, and findings indicate that 36 percent of adult emergency shelter guests actually came from communities outside Boston.

An ever increasing population being assisted by the Pine Street Inn is the homeless veteran community. Recent estimates indicate veterans represent 23 percent of homeless Americans with another 1.5 million at risk of homelessness, said Pine Street Inn staff.

"This was an eye-opening experience for me that has made me not only look at things in a new light, but appreciate what I have even more," said Senior Airman Kariscia Nunally. "Knowing some of the guests we were serving were homeless veterans saddens me. These are people who have served and fought for their country."

A sentiment echoed by Airman 1st Class Amanda Trala, another volunteer.

"This was a very rewarding experience," said Trala. "It is humbling to see how many people are struggling and I was honored to be able to give back to my community. I look forward to future volunteer opportunities at Pine Street Inn and would like to expand the ways we can reach out to the community."

According to its website, the Pine Street Inn was established in 1969 to respond to a growing need to assist homeless members of our communities. As a result, more than 1,600 homeless individuals are provided with meals on a daily basis and the Pine Street Inn's Street Outreach Team deploys into the community 24 hours a day.

In addition, through job training and a placement program, the Pine Street Inn trains more than 600 men and women annually to develop skills that will assist them in gaining permanent employment.

Those interested in volunteering for future events may contact Dawn Shewmaker at 781-225-6385 or directly at Pine Street Inn at volunteer@pinestreetinn.org.

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