SOUTHINGTON — A local man recently asked the Town Council to consider stocking toiletries, socks and other items near the Farming Canal Heritage Trail for those in need.
Robert Kay proposed installing “blessing boxes” at a council meeting late last month. Town officials are considering the idea.
“At one time in my life I was homeless. I know what it’s like to be without,” Kay told councilors. “I know there are people in this town in that same situation.”
Victoria Triano, a Town Council member, talked with Kay about the idea and encouraged him to attend the council meeting.
“He has a real passion for this thing,” she said.
Kay couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Triano said Kay will meet with the town’s Community Services Director Janet Mellon about the town’s efforts to help the homeless. She’s not sure the blessing boxes will come about but hopes Kay will be involved with community service efforts in town.
Kay suggested West Center Street near the trail as a location for a box. At least one homeless man has camped in woods near that area in past years.
The box would be stocked with hygiene items.
“If someone needed them, they’d be free for them to take,” Kay said.
Mellon said there are 15 formerly homeless town residents now in apartments with the help of state housing subsidies. Some used to live in tents in the woods near the trail.
“They’re all gone. They’re all housed, they’re living in apartments,” she said.
Rather than have those in need take supplies from a box, Mellon wants them to meet with community services workers who can assess their needs and get them more help. The town also has kits for homeless that includes hygiene items and other necessities.
“In our town, we want to meet with them, we want to assess their needs,” Mellon said. “You want to see the person.”
Mellon said she does want to meet with Kay to show him the town’s efforts.
“Maybe he has other ideas we could incorporate,” she said.
Chris Palmieri, council chairman, said at the council meeting that he’d have the Parks Department look into the idea.
“I think it’s wonderful you’re trying to give back,” he told Kay.
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