BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A fundraising campaign for a Shalom Community Center in Bloomington received a hate-filled letter this week, filled with several derogatory words aimed at the people it serves.
“Many, many of us in town hate and despise your organization,” the letter read. “You enable deadbeats, bums, junkies and degenerates to perpetually act as parasites and degrade our quality of life.”
The author of the note signed off with an expletive and said, “please close!”
“Yeah it was pretty harsh and pretty severe,” said Executive Director Forrest Gilmore.
The words were scribbled on to a piece of paper by an unknown author. When Gilmore read it, it wasn’t too surprising.
“I’ve been doing this now for about a decade, so it wasn’t shocking,” Gilmore said. “I’ve seen this level of prejudice for so long.”
Every day a few hundred people struggling with poverty visit Shalom to receive assistance, do laundry, or simply stay warm. Gilmore says they endure those insults all the time and says it’s harder to get back up when you’re constantly being pushed down.
“There are people out there struggling with poverty, with homelessness, hunger, all kinds of challenges,” Gilmore said. “They also have to then on top of that, deal with this kind of prejudice and bigotry.”
The note came in a return envelope from the center’s holiday fundraising campaign, which included a short letter and a picture of a young boy, who was homeless.
“It’s fascinating that this is what was featured in the letter,” Gilmore said while showing the picture. “And that was the response to the letter.”
In his response, Gilmore posted the note to Facebook. He was hoping the harmful words might lead to some good, and minutes later donations started pouring in.
“So far, I think we’re at $3,700 dollars we’ve raised in the last 24 hours or so,” Gilmore said.
One person filled with hate intended to donate nothing. But instead, their letter led to dozens of people filled with love donating thousands.
“That is one of the big things we wanted to say, is that love is more powerful than hate, and the community really stepped up to show that,” Gilmore said.
For more information or to donate, visit shalomcommunitycenter.org