Spend ‘A Night in the Cold’ to help the homeless


Spend ‘A Night in the Cold’ to help the homeless
Some of the members of the Westborough Helps the Homeless Club – Sydney Gage, Molly Johnston and Maggie Hanlon, the club’s founder. (Photo/Courtesy)

WESTBOROUGH – On the last weekend in February, several residents will spend “A Night in the Cold” to help a local homeless program.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, volunteers will join organizer John Bogaert in raising awareness about homelessness. 

During that day, volunteers will be at Colonial Plaza at 45 East Main St. to solicit donations and raise awareness about the issue. In the evening, they will sleep outdoors in boxes.

This year’s beneficiary will be Abby’s House in Worcester, which helps homeless women and children.

Bogaert said that they are working to help forward the mission of Abby’s House to “to provide shelter and affordable housing, as well as advocacy and support services, to homeless, battered and low-income women, with or without children.”

“We are very humbled and grateful for the support from John and this event,” said Kelly C. Whalen, senior director of development and communication for Abby’s House.

Abby’s House currently offers a temporary overnight shelter for women with and without children. It operates 72 single-room supportive housing units for women, along with seven two-bedroom apartments for women and children in three buildings in Worcester.

Whalen said that Abby’s House is about to begin a renovation project that will expand its original shelter from nine beds to 18.

How it started, and how it continues

Bogaert got the idea for “A Night in the Cold” when he went winter camping back in the 1990s.

“I had thought about starting this years ago when I used to go to winter camping in the ‘90s and couldn’t help but to think about the people who were out there in the cold without a choice while I laid awake because it was too cold to sleep,” he said. “Finally, when my kids were older and more self-sufficient and I had more time, I decided to do it.”

Bogaert is looking at this year as an opportunity to not only raise money and spread awareness for the homeless, but to also inspire more young people to get involved and shine a light upon the good that so many students are already doing. 

Maggie Hanlon is a senior at Westborough High and the student who started Westborough Helps the Homeless. The club consists of around 20 active members and is involved in food drives, fundraisers and other volunteering. 

“I started WHH because I recognized how many people were in need across America and specifically central Mass.,” Hanlon said. “We love doing volunteer work because you can see your work in action.”

Westborough senior Brady Henderson has been involved in the winter sleepout, and he’s excited for the opportunity to volunteer his help to people in need.

“I think it is an important cause to participate in because of the sheer extent of people in the world who have to experience homelessness every day,” Henderson said. 

He also noted that the only true way that he believes you could understand even a fraction of what people really go through out there is to spend a day in their shoes. 

“I would like this year’s event to focus foremost on the cause, but also focus on the action that these students are taking to help people experiencing homelessness,” Bogaert said. “I feel that these students are setting an example that will help ensure that future generations will spread awareness and feel inspired to continue to help those in need.”

To date, “A Night in the Cold” has raised over $50,000 to help people experiencing homelessness throughout the state. The beneficiary for the first two events was Mass Coalition for the Homeless.

To donate or for more information, visit www.donate2homeless.org.

For information on Abby’s House, visit abbyshouse.org.

Facebook link: www.facebook.com/donate/1214291972544544.

Donations can also be made on site by drive-through donations on the day of the event.


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