An Open Letter to Those Saddened by Sunday’s Fatal Fire in Bangor
Dear community members, who are feeling as devastated by the deaths of three members of the homeless community as I am.
We see them every day, walking the streets with their sacks full of their most precious belongings. Some carry backpacks, while others have trash bags slung over their shoulders. Their clothes are shabby and inadequate against the increasing cold of Maine winters.
Many of us will turn away when we see these members of the state’s homeless population. Silently, we know that we’re lucky because many of us realize how quickly we, too, could become homeless. We may say a quiet prayer for them, that they find shelter, that they find a place to be warm that night, that someone is watching out for them. There are warming shelters and overnight beds around the city of Bangor, but there are always those diehards who would rather live on their own terms.
Is that what those five people were doing when they settled into that empty, abandoned house on Union Street? Instead of staying in a shelter, with all the shelter rules, they had found a house. Out of the cold. Neighbors tell us it even had a fireplace that could help them keep warm. It must have felt like a palace.
Of course, I’m guessing here at what they were feeling. No one knows how long they had been staying in that house. It could have been their first night out of the cold when the fire broke out and took their lives. Three souls were lost just because they were trying to stay warm.
We all feel it. The sadness. The loss. The frustration that nothing could have saved them. But there is something that you can do. It won’t bring back Tim Tuttle, Dylan Smith, or Andrew Allen, but it may help some other homeless citizens to find their way. You can donate to a shelter. Bangor Area Homeless Shelter or Hope House. Donate to agencies that help in other ways, like Hope for Homeless, the Union Street Brick Church, or the Salvation Army.
It won’t solve the problem. But it will help these folks do all they can to provide safe and warm options to Bangor’s homeless population. They can’t do it alone.
One of the Lucky Ones