College students trained to help the homeless

Students take turns in visiting Craig's Doors

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – 20 UMass and Amherst college students were trained to help the homeless get connected with area resources.

Shirin Hakim is one of two UMass seniors who help recruit and coordinate student participation for the job.

Once a week, the students take turns in visiting the Amherst shelter, Craig’s Doors, and performing intake interviews. A computerized interview process helps create a database of those seeking services.

Craig’s Doors Executive Director Kevin Noonan told 22News they have a social worker who comes in weekly but the students help bridge a gap.

Noonan said, “They meet with people and find out what their needs are, what are the barriers to housing? What are the barriers to getting a job? What do they need? Do they need to get to a doctor? Do they need to get eligibility applications filed?”

According to Hakim, “We are not just an organization we are a community and a family, and the guests are so accepting and kind.  They’re not only benefit from our presence there, but we benefit from the experiences that we share with them there.”

In the shelter’s first two months of operation, the students have met with over 30 guests.