BY VALERIE BELL CHICOPEE
PUBLISHED 5:00 PM ET FEB. 18, 2021
What started as the Big Blue Van driving to homeless camps delivering supplies has now evolved into the Big Blue Drop-In Center.
Deacon Eric Elley is involved with Big Blue Ministries, Church Without Walls, St. Marks Episcopal Church, and Southern NE Conference of the UCC. He says in his different roles, he has seen how the Big Blue Van helped so many people in the past year since they started the drop-in center.
“We already earned the trust and respect of folks in the greater Springfield area because they knew about us in,” said Elley.
Members from Church Without Walls, Christ Church Cathedral, and South Congregational Church in Springfield, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and First Church of Christ in Longmeadow and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow have made the Big Blue Ministry possible.
Volunteers from the different churches come to Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield every week to make sure people who are homeless or who have fallen on hard times, have a place to come and get what they need.
“Coffee, snacks and stuff in my bodega as I call it,” Rev. Linda Taupier, a Deacon at Christ Church Cathedral showed.
They also give out toiletries, sleeping bags and coats. The group used to do it inside, but because of the pandemic, they had to bring their operation to the parking lot. Each volunteer has their own personal story why helping others is important to them.
“I just want to do whatever teeny bit I can do so people are more cared for and they feel loved, and we give them some hope,” said Taupier.
“I have a heart and passion for the homeless because I can identify personally with them what they are going through and struggling with so it has always been near and dear to me,” Elley said.
Rob Fitzpatrick, a Parishioner at St. Marks Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow said “Everyday I feel like my wife and I we struggle, we are always looking at other people in other towns, bigger houses, but then we see people out here and I feel blessed in what I have and it makes me want to come out here and give people that are less fortunate stuff to make sure they can live a happy life.”
Rain or shine, people from all over the area can come here to get what they need. So far, the Big Blue Drop-In Center has helped hundreds of people.
Just last week, they gave tents, sleeping bags and extra food to three people who were sleeping under a bridge the night before.
“She gave me the look at the notion that she wanted to hug me, but because of the pandemic couldn’t and that makes me feel so grateful and so happy we were able to help them,” said Fitzpatrick.
The volunteers are out there every Thursday from 9 AM until noon, so anyone who needs anything is more than welcome to stop by. In addition to that they are always looking for volunteers and donations, so if you want to get involved, you can visit http://bigblueministries.org/