My name is Michael Bacon, and I am the Director of Nutritional Services here at the Boston Living Center. I manage the Meals Program and also oversee the Nutrition Works Food Pantry, a collaborative program between the BLC and the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay. I have worked at the BLC since 1996 and I am going to let you know why it is important that you consider to support the work of the BLC.
When I started working here, I thought the epidemic would be over within a couple of years, researchers would find a cure and that would be it. Now, almost 14 years later there remains hope, but still no cure.
People often ask me why I got involved here, or more incredulously, how I have lasted so long.
This is why I got involved: I had many friends who became sick in the early years of this epidemic before treatments were available. Most of those friends are no longer here. We all led similar lives; we didn’t have information about risky behaviors or safer sex. Some of us contracted the disease and some of us didn’t. Roll of the dice, bad luck…whatever you want to call it. The fact remained that while many of my friends were dying, I was okay. People talk about survivor’s guilt. I didn’t have any of that, but rather I was angry and wanted someone to do something about it. When someone told me about this job I realized I could be one of those someones!
I wasn’t sure what to expect. What would it be like around so many people that were sick, tired, and alone? Would it be depressing, would it be sad? Quite the contrary. I found people alive with enthusiasm and excitement about the future. I found people that took care of and supported each other. I found people that wouldn’t give up the fight.
That was the why, this is the how. In the morning I come in ready to listen, understand and learn. I have learned so much from the people we provide services to: patience, determination, tenacity and passion. I have come to understand how the smallest gesture can make a world of difference to someone, how important a smile can be, and to never take a warm meal or a roof over your head for granted. I know
what I’m doing makes a positive impact on other peoples’ lives and I go home contented every night.
The epidemic has changed over the years. The populations being infected have shifted and the medications have improved the quality of life for many people…but not all. We still serve many of our original members, but we also serve many more from the periphery of our society. We provide services to folks that need to improve their computer skills and to folks that need us to find them a bed for the night.
This is why I am asking you for money. We are still dealing with the shock of the newly infected who need a place to feel safe as well as helping folks manage their addiction or mental health issues so they can learn to take better care of themselves.
The Boston Living Center is a community of members, staff and volunteers, but that community doesn’t end at the entranceway to our building. There is a much larger community outside our doors. It is people like you that support us everyday of the week and help us do the work that we all find so important…caring for and helping folks help themselves.
Thank you for your support, for your consideration, and for your caring. You have my best wishes for the holiday season, and the New Year.