Amherst Survival Center breakfast celebrates 40 years

  • Gil McCollom, left, 4, Michaela Usher, 4 1/2, and Maggie Collins, right, 5, all of Amherst pull scarves out of a hat for Yuri "Prince of Color" Friman of Amherst as he performs a magic trick for them during a Community Appreciation Breakfast at the Amherst Survival Center on Saturday, part of the Center's 40th anniversary celebration of community support. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Michaela Usher, right, 4 1/2, of Amherst has a butterfly painted on her face by Amherst Regional High School student Amy-Mei Lynch, while friend Maggie Collins, left, 5, of Amherst talks about what she'll have painted on her face next. Lynch was one of the ARHS. volleyball team players who offered their artistic skills during a Community Appreciation Breakfast at the Amherst Survival Center on Saturday, part of the Center's 40th anniversary celebration of community support. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Maggie Collins, 5, of Amherst has her face painted by Amy-Mei Lynch, one of the Amherst Regional High School volleyball team players who offered her artistic skills during the breakfast on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • R.J. Camacho, 3½, of Amherst enjoys sausage and pancakes with his father, Ricky Camacho, and grandmother, Olga Ortiz, during a Community Appreciation Breakfast at the Amherst Survival Center on Saturday, part of the Center's 40th anniversary celebration of community support. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Amherst Survival Center volunteer Amy Millhollin, left, of Attleboro serves breakfast to Paul Peelle of Amherst.

  • Amherst Survival Center volunteers Amy Millhollin, left, of Attleboro and Nichole Ring of Amherst serve breakfast to Carlie Tartakov of Amherst and University of Massachusetts senior Maggie Genney, right, during a Community Appreciation Breakfast on Saturday, part of the Center's 40th anniversary celebration of community support. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2016 6:29:18 PM

AMHERST – In 40 years, what started in a single mother’s home has grown into a survival center serving thousands.

The Amherst Survival Center held a special breakfast on Saturday to celebrate the four decades of community support. About 180 people came to celebrate and eat pancakes, fresh fruit, frittata, blueberry muffins and smoothies. 

The survival center provides residents of Hampshire and Franklin Counties with food, healthcare and wellness, serving close to 6,000 people each year, according to the organization’s website.

The center is open to anyone and asks only two questions: What town are you from and would you like a ticket for fresh food distribution?

Twice a week, doctors are available to those who visit the center. Home services such as a shower, lockers to store clothes and a washer and dryer.

Volunteer coordinator Carleen Basier said about 200-250 people volunteer at the center, making it possible for food, clothes and other resources to be available daily and for free.

“It’s amazing what our volunteers can do,” Basler said. 

Program director Tracey Levy said the center is a community where everyone is there for one another. Even those without much money to spend can still contribute to the center, she said

Elise Kares, 68, regularly volunteers at the center. In the 90s, Kares found support at the Northampton Survival Center for her and her three children. She would walk to the center everyday after her children got off the bus.

“I don’t know how I did it,” said Kares, who doesn’t have a car. “I don’t know how I managed in the winter.”

When she moved to Amherst, Kares said the local survival center became like a family to her. 

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “It’s like a home to me.”

In the coming months, the center will host other anniversary events. On Wednesday, Bertucci’s in Amherst will dedicate 15 percent of patron’s bills to the center. On October 5, there will be a wine and painting evening with art educator Teri Magner.

Caitlin Ashworth can be reached at cashworth@gazettenet.com.

 




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