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I worked for Friends of Night People for most of 1996. During that time I was amazed and overwhelmed by the needs I saw. More than 300 people, including families with small children, come in to eat each night because it's the only place in town serving dinner that doesn't ask for payment, either monetary or spiritual.

Many of the current complaints by neighbors in the area are the result of attempts by Executive Director Darren Strickland and his staff to respond to previous criticisms. The repeated efforts made by Friends of Night People to be good neighbors are met by further demands from a handful of area residents who will only be satisfied when Friends of Night People leaves their home and moves to another neighborhood.

My family has lived in the same house for less than the 21 years that Friends of Night People has existed. We have seen most of the houses in our neighborhood change hands at least once.

I wonder whether the owner of the apartment house across from Friends of Night People has owned the building longer. I don't think so. Could this be someone who thought Allentown had potential: buy cheap, renovate, charge big rents, and watch the area gentrify? What can he do if the area resists change?

I suggest that these "community activists" move to Williamsville, where they won't be disturbed by the sight of hungry people. But wait. They would surely have problems with Larry -- Williamsville's token homeless man.

William Prentiss

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