Newsletter: May 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We were talking not that long ago about what it means to be in charge. We laughed because being the “head honcho” is not always glamorous. In our line of work, it usually means you’re the one pushing a broom, cleaning up after everyone has left.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, given what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It was His last chance to tell His disciples what it’s all about, and He opted for a visual sermon. Jesus did something that caught His disciples off guard and left an image they would never forget: He washed their feet, the most humble and lowliest job imaginable.

This needs to be burned into our minds, too.

As the founder of the Joseph House and the Little Sisters, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling was always the one in charge. In many ways it came naturally to her. But her abilities never blinded her to the teachings of Jesus. She would tell us over and over again to avoid anything resembling a “professional” attitude. By that she meant being attached to power and the trappings and privileges of power. All the things that place someone over and above someone else.

She left no shortage of examples to get her point across. Sr. Connie fondly remembers when she first came to work at the Crisis Center and needed a desk. Sr. Mary Elizabeth promptly turned over a trash can and voila! — there was her desk.

Yes, those were the days!

But there was a reason for what she did. Sr. Mary Elizabeth knew the value of humility. It guards against sinful pride and it helps us become approachable and non-threatening. Sister wanted us to embrace our “littleness.” She wanted us to be present to those in need face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to listen. We should be willing to wash another’s feet without hesitation, and have that willingness apparent in our demeanor. We can’t hide behind job titles.

If she gave us a high standard to live up to, well, so did Jesus.

This spirit of loving service unites us with you, and together with your support we translate love for others into concrete action. Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “We are free to do for the poor what the poor need.” She had in mind a freedom from red tape and overbearing regulations, and also a freedom of the heart, a freedom to love without reserve. A freedom to do whatever is needed.

Eloise was surprisingly calm given her situation. Her strength and intelligence were serving her well. Eloise is married, but her husband was locked up awaiting trial on a DUI charge. She said he is a good and responsible person, except when he is drinking. Then, she said, he is terrible.

Eloise and her husband have six children. They live in a one-room apartment. After her husband was arrested, Eloise suddenly became the provider for the family. She found a job at a nursery, but it wasn’t going to start for a little while. Her badly needed paycheck was weeks away. Eloise came to the Crisis Center, where we listened to the sad tale of her struggle. Behind in the rent and electric, no food for her children, she didn’t know what to do. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we were able to act immediately: $300 for the rent, $100 for the electric, and more groceries than she could carry.

Many senior folks come to our Crisis Center. Veronica is 86 and a widow. For the past year her home has been infested with bed bugs and others pests. Living on a very small income, she didn’t have the funds to do anything about it. She came to see us and we paid $350 to an exterminator… Floyd, 69, lives alone out in the country. He tries to find work cutting grass for extra money, but it’s often not enough. We paid $200 to stop an electric cut-off.

Another common occurrence is people unable to work because of health problems. For Patty, 56, cancer took away her house. Medical bills and loss of work forced her to let go of just about everything. She now rents a room but still needs help sometimes. We sent $225 to the electric company on her behalf… Laurel, 50, takes care of her adult son who is learning disabled. She suffered a series of strokes and is now trying to get by on a very limited income. We sent $160 to her landlord to stop an eviction… Jason, 58, cannot work because of a seizure disorder. He fell behind in paying his bills and was dropped from the payment plan with the electric company. He could only pay $63; our contribution of $170 helped to bring his account up to date and prevent a cut-off.

Thank you for your support. We can do what needs to be done because of you!

“There are as many ways to serve God as there are people.” That was another guiding principle from Sr. Mary Elizabeth, and it certainly applies to all the people who work “behind the scenes” at the Joseph House. We need to give recognition to one such individual, Ella Duma, who retired as our bookkeeper on May 1 after 23 years of service. Ella came to work in our convent office in 1995. So much has changed since then, but Ella has been a constant presence, putting up with us, keeping our records in order, and so much more. Quite simply, her work kept the lifeblood flowing that enabled our service to those in need. We will miss her, and wish her all the best as she spends more time with her delightful grandchildren. Niech cię Bóg błogosławi!

We didn’t have to look far for a new bookkeeper. Heidi Price, who was our secretary, moved over to Ella’s desk, and a new addition to our staff, Tina Schrider has taken over Heidi’s responsibilities. In other personnel news, Nicole Soder has joined our community as a Postulant. Nicole comes to us from Ohio, and she is here to discern more closely her vocation as a Little Sister of Jesus and Mary.

It’s been a season of change and transition. We pray that God will bless everyone who is beginning a new journey, and may God’s love for you be your constant strength.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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When you don’t believe, believe anyhow

Charles de Foucauld composed this prayer as he meditated on the death of Jesus on the Cross:

This was the last prayer of our Master, our Beloved. May it also be ours. And may it be not only that of our last moment, but also of our every moment:

Father,

I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures—
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You with all the love of my heart,
for I love You Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for You are my Father.

Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling, made this prayer central to our spirituality:

The first prayer we say every day is the Abandonment Prayer of Brother Charles, which is a very beautiful prayer in which we give ourselves totally to God.

Abandonment simply means that you give yourself completely to God in such a way that you trust Him with everything that He has in mind for you, and that each morning you just give yourself to Him completely, and you’re at ease and at rest because you know that He is going to take care of you. Maybe He’s not going to do it your way, but He’s going to do it His way, which is a lot better.

Sometimes you’re a little afraid of what is He going to want to do. You don’t always feel like you’re ready for it, but that’s what takes faith. It just takes faith. We like to make our own plans….

I can assure you there were many times when I thought that I could not go on with some of the things that I had to bear. It’s just trust. And if you can trust, God will certainly take care of this matter, but give yourself to Him. That’s what we mean by abandonment. It’s when you don’t believe, believe anyhow.

Newsletter: April 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

When the tomb of Christ opened on that first Easter Sunday, a new reality for all people also opened up: resurrection is just as real as the cross.

Although rooted in history and the bodily nature of existence, the Resurrection of Jesus reveals an entirely new horizon for the whole world. The disciples could speak with the Risen Christ, could touch Him, yet they were encountering a mystery that transcended their senses. These encounters changed them—fundamentally—and their lives were radically different afterwards, marked by a fearlessness in proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.

But in the quiet hours of that Easter morning, there was only silence and the gentle rays of the rising sun. People waking up that day had no idea the world was changed forever. God is like that. Divinity is typically revealed with little fanfare.

Reminders of the hope held in store for us are always present, but they can be easy to overlook. We often need to slow down and pay attention. With that in mind, we would love to share a little “resurrection” story that was written by a Little Sister years ago for this Newsletter:

A friend presented me with a jar containing a twig with brown and green bumps on it. I’d never seen anything like this before. She said she had found two caterpillars and fed them parsley for a week. Shortly thereafter they evolved into chrysalises. These cases were attached to the twig by two clear strands. My friend told me to observe the jar closely as these chrysalises would emerge into butterflies. I had never done this before but I put my trust in my friend.

For more than a week I became an observer and watched my jar. I was late going to the Joseph House Center one day. I was hurrying about when I noticed something wonderful had occurred in that jar. A big, beautiful butterfly with shades of blue, red, black, and orange on its wings had taken the place of one of the cocoons. I took it outside to release it into the air. It had a difficult time adjusting to its freedom. Soon it started stretching its wings and then flew off. I took the feeling of the chrysalis and butterfly to the Joseph House Center that morning. My hope and prayer is to give new life to the poor.

The new life ushered in by Christ is communicated to each one of us personally. In unexpected moments we can catch a glimpse of it, and it can inspire us to share it with those who need it the most. Person to person—that is how Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples, how the Gospel was spread, and how it is lived out today.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” That’s the approach taken at the Joseph House Crisis Center, where for 35 years we have welcomed families struggling with the burdens of poverty. We assist dozens of people every week because of your faithful support.

Charlie, 64, is an Army veteran who lives alone. He’s had several strokes and is in poor condition, both physically and financially. To make matters worse, a family member cheated him out of some money. The electricity was turned off in Charlie’s trailer. Our payment of $225 restored the power.

Eveline, 55, also lives alone. A broken furnace required her to depend on electric heaters in her home. This doubled her electric bill and she needed help paying it. We contributed $225.

Pam, 51, lost her managerial position at a food store. She found part-time work (with a net pay of $300 monthly), but finding another full-time job was taking longer than she expected. Pam never thought she would be in a desperate situation. We paid $225 toward her rent.

After going through a difficult time, Kaitlin, 41, and her husband had their home go into foreclosure. They ended up losing everything and were homeless. When Kaitlin’s husband found a job as a cook, they felt hopeful for the first time in a long while. The couple still faced an upward climb: a landlord let them move into an apartment, but they needed to pay the rent as soon as possible. We sent over $170.

Haywood, 70, and his wife have a combined Social Security income of $661 monthly. They’ve been frugal their entire lives and live in a home the size of a matchbox. The water was going to be cut off because of delinquent bills. We paid $275 to get their account up to date.

Carmella, 60, has worked as a de-boner in a chicken plant for years. She injured her arm and needed to have surgery. Fortunately, Carmella qualified for Workers’ Compensation, but snafus led to a delay in receiving her first check. Carmella was very worried about losing her housing. A few months ago, she moved into a newly-built apartment complex for people with low incomes. It’s the nicest place she’s ever lived. We sent $300 to the landlord so Carmella would not be evicted.

Shayne is a young man of 20. For the past year he’s been living by himself in a very old house. Shayne walks to work at a fast-food restaurant and is doing the best he can. Despite his determination, he had to contend with living in a home without electricity. We paid $225 toward the past-due bills to get the power back on again.

“Come, have breakfast.” This is what Jesus said to the disciples when He appeared to them for the third time after the Resurrection (John 21:12). Caring for people in down-to-earth ways is truly divine. Thank you for helping the Joseph House do the same for so many of our brothers and sisters in need.

We wish you and your loved ones a Happy Easter and all the joy this springtime season brings!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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Newsletter: March 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We read with interest about a series of meetings that started at Harvard Divinity School between Nuns and Nones, “nones” referring to young adults, or millennials, who profess no religious affiliation (about 25% of the population).

Apart from the obvious differences—such as the age gap—the two groups discovered they share some common aspirations. For example, they’re united in wanting to make the world a better place, and both groups have a preference for community-based decision making. Both groups also realized they can learn from each other. The nuns were amazed at how adept millennials are with technology. The millennials, in turn, commented on how comfortable the nuns were with silence. They marveled at how Catholic religious sisters can sustain themselves over years, even decades, of ministry and social activism.

Could it be that the things that impressed the millennials are related? From our perspective as Little Sisters, we believe they are. They point to a common denominator: a life of prayer.

Prayer takes root in silence and as it grows it touches everything in a person’s life. Our founder, Sr. Mary Elizabeth, made sure that prayer was an essential part of our daily routine. She included in our Constitutions and Rule:

Times of encounter with the Lord in prayer are indispensable in our religious life. Only in union with Him will our work be fruitful, for without Him we can do nothing. As our prayer and action become a single response of love, our life gradually achieves unity and peace.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth described herself as an active-contemplative, and she wished the same for the members of her community. One way of being an active-contemplative is to develop a contemplative way of seeing. That means to look beneath the surface, to see the potential— to behold the oak tree in the acorn, so to speak. When Jesus saw Simon, a self-confessed sinful man, He also saw Peter, the rock of the Church—and that is the person Jesus spoke to, all the while accepting who Simon was at the moment.

Prayer isn’t “useful,” we don’t do it to get something out of it, but it does change who we are. For us, this certainly carries over into our ministry at the Joseph House. Anyone who is different or struggling or on the margins of society can get written off so easily. But approaching someone prayerfully helps us to see deeply, with compassion, and we create a space for his or her potential to grow and develop. In contrast, presenting someone with judgment and condemnation creates a barrier: that person will feel fenced in.

A prayerful life helps us to see the seed of grace within each person, to honor it, and to remember that every person has a destiny in eternity.

By his own account, Jack was a very mean person. People would take one look at him and keep their distance. Jack was homeless for years. He said he would sleep in the woods, far into the bushes so even the wind couldn’t touch him.

One day Jack came to our Hospitality Room at the Crisis Center. We asked if he was hungry. Jack said yes, and we gave him coffee, “Oodles of Noodles,” and two slices of bread. Jack later told us it was the best meal he ever had. He was so hungry for something more.

Best. Meal. Ever.

We asked Jack if we would be interested in the Joseph House Workshop, our residential program for homeless men. He said yes again, so he was interviewed, where it was explained to him that he would have to follow some rules. That won’t be a problem, he said.

Jack was in disbelief when he entered the Workshop. A bed just for him! A kitchen and dining room! Hot meals! A living room! A community! For Jack, it was heaven on earth.

Well, that was over seven years ago. Jack is now a successful graduate of the Workshop and loves to be the first person at his job in the morning. He’s had setbacks with his health, but he’s doing much better. Whereas once he drove people away, now he attracts them. His network of friends is always growing. They look after him, and Jack is no longer on the outside of anywhere.

And to think it all started with opening the door and saying hello….

Many poor people are hiding in plain sight. They get ignored, yet modern society depends on the work they do. Gail, 52, is a bathroom attendant in Ocean City. She makes sure the facility on the boardwalk is clean and safe so the people enjoying the beach don’t have to worry about it. Gail had a roommate who moved out suddenly. The rent was too much for Gail to pay by herself and so she received an eviction notice. The Joseph House paid $170 to the landlord so Gail wouldn’t become homeless.

Patricia, 60, drives a school bus. She is single and has the care of her grandson; the parents have no involvement with their child. Patricia is a good, responsible person. Paying her basic expenses is a real struggle. She came to the Joseph House after giving $200 (all the money she had) to her landlord. It was not enough. Fortunately, we were able to pay $325 to keep Patricia and her grandson in their home.

Leila, 24, washes dishes in a restaurant and does other odd jobs. She has a young son but the father does not pay child support. Leila and her son did not have a fixed address. Even after giving up her car she never had the funds for the security deposit for an apartment. The Joseph House provided $225, plus a warm coat for her son who needed one. Now this family has a place to live.

Late winter, early spring. This is the time of year when appearances are deceptive. Everything looks dead and the trees are bare, but then we notice the red buds on the branch tips. Nature is so resilient—it reminds us to live as a sign of hope. Thank you for all the ways you support the Joseph House, including your generosity. You give hope to people who are desperately searching for it. May God bless you!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


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When you meditate, be like a mountain
immovably set in silence.
Its thoughts are rooted in eternity.
Do not do anything, just sit, be—
and you will reap the fruit flowing from your prayer.

When you meditate, be like a flower
always directed towards the sun.
Its stalk, like a spine, is always straight.
Be open, ready to accept everything without fear,
and you will not lack light on your way.

When you meditate, be like an ocean
always immovable in its depth.
Its waves come and go.
Be calm in your heart,
and evil thoughts will go away by themselves.

When you meditate, remember your breath:
Thanks to it we have come alive.
It comes from God and returns to God.
Unite the word of prayer with the stream of life,
and nothing will separate you from the Giver of life.

When you meditate, be like a bird
singing without a rest in front of the Creator.
Its song rises like the smoke of incense.
Let your prayer be like the coo of a dove,
and you will never succumb to discouragement.

When you meditate, be like Abraham
giving his son as an offering.
It was a sign that he was ready to sacrifice everything.
You too, leave everything,
and in your loneliness God will be with you.

When you meditate, it is Jesus
praying in you to the Father in the Spirit.
You are carried by the flame of His love.
Be like a river, serving all,
and the time will come when you will change into Love.

Every mountain teaches us the sense of eternity,
every flower, when it fades,
teaches us the sense of fleetingness.
The ocean teaches us how to retain peace during adversities,
and love always teaches us to love.

Fr. Seraphion of Mount Athos
(adapted by Fr. Jan Bereza, OSB)

What Made the Good Samaritan Different?

One of the most familiar passages in Scripture is the story of the Good Samaritan. Even people who say they don’t know much about the Bible know how the story goes: a man was attacked by robbers and left beaten and bloodied by the side of the road. Two others came along, a priest and a Levite, and left without stopping to help.

Then a Samaritan arrived and gave assistance that went above and beyond the call of duty. He dressed the injured man’s wounds, took him to an inn, and gave the innkeeper money to provide for him until he recovered (see Luke 10: 29-37).

We might wonder how the first two men could just leave the beaten man alone in his suffering. Maybe his presence alerted them to the fact that it was a dangerous road. If they stopped to help, they might get assaulted, too. Maybe they were on their way to an important engagement and didn’t want to be late. Helping at the moment was not convenient. Or maybe if they helped him today he might ask for something else tomorrow. They knew they could only do so much. The priest and Levite probably felt justified in not getting involved.

These excuses sound familiar. What made the Samaritan act so differently? A fundamental change in attitude. Whereas the first two men thought, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” the Samaritan thought, “If I don’t stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

The Samaritan had made a change on the inside. He walked the same road as the other two, but through his conversion of heart he overcame fear and united the injured man’s pain with God’s healing.

For most of us, putting others first and ourselves last is an uphill climb. Old habits and self-centeredness keep pulling us in the opposite direction. But the grace of God is stronger and will help us triumph in the end.

If the Good Samaritan’s care of the injured man seems extravagant, even more so is God’s care for us. We won’t fully realize how many good things He sent our way until this life is over. One of His best gifts is the desire to love and serve the poor. What could be better than to have a heart that is like God’s own?

The season of Lent is upon us. Let us keep in mind the type of fasting that the Lord finds acceptable: to release those held captive by injustice, to break the yoke of oppression, to share our bread with the hungry, our shelter with the homeless, and our clothing with the naked (Isaiah 58:6-7).

As we journey toward Easter, may our eyes be opened to see our neighbor in distress, and may we let go of whatever keeps us from loving others as a Good Samaritan.

Newsletter: February 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

We rarely get the chance to do great things for other people. Our days are filled, however, with moments to do little things. These are precious and not to be squandered—they are capable of doing so much good. Sometimes the moment occurs unexpectedly. The key is to be ready at all times. We must make it the intention of our hearts to be kind and considerate of others.

Brother Charles, the spiritual father of the Joseph House, built his life around this. He wrote:

Have the tender care that expresses itself in little things that are like a balm for the heart. With our neighbors, go into the smallest details, whether it is a question of health, of consolation, of prayerfulness, or of need. Console and ease the pain of others through the tiniest attention.

Be tender and attentive towards those whom God puts in your path, as a brother towards a brother, as a mother towards a child. As much as possible, be an element of consolation for those around us, as a soothing balm, as our Lord was to those who drew near Him.

Every great saint has seen the truth and beauty of living this way. Here are words from Mother Teresa, for example:

Thoughtfulness is the beginning of sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for He was always meek and He always thought of the needs of others. Our life to be beautiful must be full of the thought of others.

The thoughtfulness of Jesus and Mary and Joseph was so great that it made Nazareth the abode of the Most High God. If we also have that kind of thoughtfulness for each other, our homes would really become the abode of God Most High.

The little things we do for each other are so important. They make a big impact for their size. As Little Sisters, we remember this every day in our convent, our place of daily living, and also in our home away from home, the Joseph House. The sentiments expressed above speak to the essence of our ministry with the poor. What we do is nothing less than the careful, polite attention to the needs of others. And you—our friends, volunteers, and benefactors—participate in this, too. The Joseph House exists because of your thoughtful consideration of other people, especially those undergoing hardship.

Our founder wanted the Joseph House to reflect the warmth and love of the Holy Family in Nazareth. She wanted it to be a place where people receive help not just in the form of material goods and services, but in a lifting up of their spirits. The Joseph House is a place of encounter and personal contact, where people are welcomed and their dignity respected. The world is so harsh at times; people who are worried about going hungry or being evicted should be met with kindness.

Thank you for your support and for allowing us to channel your generosity. We added up the figures from 2018 and they show that the “wolf of want” is at the door of many people.

The Joseph House Crisis Center.

At the Joseph House Crisis Center, we issued 1,581 checks to help individuals and families pay for housing, utilities, health care, transportation, and other critical needs. Our Food Pantry gave out 12,514 bags of groceries; an average of 565 households, representing 1,275 people, received food each month. Our Soup Kitchen served 11,572 hot meals. Our Hospitality Room for homeless men and women responded 6,299 times to the needs of visitors. We provided showers, laundry, food, coats, blankets, and personal care products; on average we welcomed about 25 people per day, five days a week.

At Christmas, 793 children received a bag of gifts, which included a large toy, a smaller one, a book, a puzzle or activity book, assorted stocking stuffers, plus a hat, scarf, or mittens.

The Joseph House Workshop.

The Joseph House Workshop, next door to the Crisis Center, also had an eventful year. The Workshop is a long-term residential program for homeless men. It provides them with a supportive place to live where they engage in a process that (a) moves them from homelessness to stable living; (b) trains them to find and maintain employment; and (c) empowers them to reach their full potential.

There are currently four men in the program. One is getting ready to enter Phase 1 (classroom-based) and three are in Phase 2 (employment). All of the men came directly from drug and alcohol treatment centers or were referred to us from the Health Department.

In-house classes focus on relapse prevention as well as personal growth based on popular devotional books. To give the men a creative outlet we offer classes on various arts and crafts. Being well-rounded individuals is extremely important to living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to involvement in 12-Step activities, several of the men participate in Celebrate Recovery and weekly Sunday Services at SonRise Church. The residents are also active in community service on an “as needed” basis.

Of the men in the employment phase, one is working as a cook, another is a floor technician at the hospital with the third getting ready to work there, too. The Workshop helps the men every step of the way in finding a job and provides transportation to and from their job sites. A percentage of each resident’s paycheck goes into a savings account for when they leave the program—a great boost for the next stage of their lives.

Feed the body, feed the soul. Becoming confident in the kitchen is part of life at the Workshop.

Many of our graduates live in the area, supporting themselves and reconnecting with family members. Dramatic, life-changing transformations have occurred. A highlight of this past year was a visit from a graduate who is now in the armed forces. He wanted to spend time at the Workshop before his deployment to Hawaii. Meeting our graduates is the best way to inspire those in the program!

Numbers tell just part of the story. Behind every figure is the work of a volunteer and the generosity of a donor. We don’t have space to mention every individual, business, and organization that contributes, although we thank them personally. Also, “Your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:4). All of this generosity helps people in a deep and meaningful way. We are overjoyed and sometimes overwhelmed by it. Thank you.

There is never time to rest in serving the poor. One year ends, another begins, and “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). Next month we will continue with stories about the people we help. With our gratitude and never-ending prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Stay in touch with the Joseph House

Founder: Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling
Year of Foundation: 1965
Mission Statement: To promote social justice and stable family life through direct assistance to the poor, whatever their needs may be.
Administrators: The Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary
Superior General: Sr. Marilyn Bouchard

Website: thejosephhouse.org
Email: LSJM[at]comcast[dot]net
Facebook: facebook.com/thejosephhousesalisbury
Instagram: instagram.com/thejosephhousesalisbury

Visit our website to donate online and subscribe to our Newsletter with your email to have it delivered electronically to your inbox.

The Joseph House is a non-profit and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. All gifts are tax-deductible.

At Joseph House, we help the poor with their immediate needs and also look for ways to address the underlying problems. I am open to everything, whatever it takes to help people, especially to help them know their own value.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling

Newsletter: January 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

January is a hopeful time. We open a new calendar and all the empty spaces are there waiting to be filled in. The year is fresh and each day a new possibility. Maybe this is the year we will keep our resolutions.

January is also the middle of the cold and flu season, which can put a damper on our outlook. Coughs and sniffles are heard throughout our Crisis Center. Although it’s never fun for anyone to be sick, we must never forget that it is much worse for people who are homeless and/or living with very low incomes.

The link between poverty and illness is close and clear and they trade off between cause and effect: serious illness can lead to poverty, and poverty exacerbates existing health conditions.

For the homeless in particular, health issues are a major concern. The organization Health Care for the Homeless has compiled some devastating statistics. Men and women who are homeless are:

  • three to four times more likely to die prematurely
  • twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke
  • three times more likely to die of heart disease if they are between 25 and 44 years old

At least 25% of people experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. A majority of these individuals also have an addiction.

What is perhaps most shocking? The life expectancy of a person experiencing homelessness is just 48 years.

Being homeless puts a person at high risk for just about all health problems. People who are homeless generally experience higher exposure to infection and violence. They have little control over nutrition and personal hygiene. Sleep deprivation can also be debilitating.

If a person is sick, being homeless makes him or her sicker.

Our experience working with the homeless in our Hospitality Room backs up these figures and conclusions. In fact, it’s rare that we meet someone who isn’t struggling with at least one health concern. You’d probably be surprised at the number of heart attack and stroke survivors who are living on the street. We are. They come to us for food, a hot shower, and clean clothes. They can count on us to be a friendly, welcoming place.

We also welcome men and women who did manual labor and now their bodies have given out: their backs, shoulders, and knees can no longer do the work needed to earn a paycheck. And then there are those who are subject to a special kind of misunderstanding and prejudice: the ones coping with mental illness. In our Hospitality Room, they are accepted, respected, and given a safe haven.

There is so much to do in caring for people. We are grateful for your support which enables us to be there for those who feel unloved and alone. For the homeless, as it is for everyone, the future is a great unknown. But we do know God is already there, and that is sufficient for today.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council makes an excellent point that bears repeating: Housing is health care. It is simple and obvious and so it gets overlooked. Having a place to live is at the foundation of living a healthy life. That is why our Financial Assistance program at the Crisis Center does a lot to help individuals and families obtain housing and hold onto it.

Joanna, for example, was in desperate need of rental assistance. She is 60 years old, lives alone, and is disabled. She had surgery almost a year ago and then was in a nursing home for eight months. Joanna is still confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t know if this is permanent. The rent takes a big chunk of her monthly disability income of $675. She is allotted only $45 per month in Food Stamps, so she must spend money from her check for groceries. She also has a phone bill and needs to use a taxi sometimes. Money gets tight really fast.

Joanna was going to be evicted because of past-due rent payments totaling $400. She had $150 to her name. Fortunately, the Joseph House was able to pay the remaining balance of $250 to the landlord.

Tamar, also age 60, fell on hard times after her husband died. She had to give up the trailer that was their home. Homeless, she didn’t know where to go or what to do. She started living in motels, but that was costly and her money was running out.

Recently, Tamar was hospitalized for a brief period. A social worker on staff learned about Tamar’s lack of housing and helped her find a place to live. After being discharged, Tamar came to the Joseph House and we agreed to pay $100 toward the apartment’s security deposit. Since it wasn’t going to be ready for a few days, we also paid $156 so Tamar could spend two nights in a motel.

Remember: Housing is health care, and the discussion of health care in this country needs to contend with the growing shortage of affordable housing.

Thank you for your commitment to the Joseph House. Your loyal support means less suffering for the vulnerable members of our community. We are grateful, and so are they.

A New Year lies ahead: let’s resolve to be people of peace, mercy, and gratitude. Let’s make our world shine a little brighter with love and bless each day with acts of kindness. As the year unfolds please know that you are always in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We depend on your support to fund our outreach to the homeless and other people in need: Donate Online

We would like to pray for your special intentions: Contact Form

A New Year’s Resolution (that helps a lot of people)

Are you looking for a New Year’s Resolution that will help a lot of people?

Tell someone about the Joseph House.

Tell a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor—anyone!—about your interest in what we do and why helping the less fortunate is so important to you.

Share with them a copy of our Newsletter. Refer them to our website. It’s easy to remember: thejosephhouse.org

That’s The Joseph House dot org.

Everything you need to know is there.

Are you on social media? Share a post with your friends and followers that shows your support of what we do.

If you would like extra printed copies of our Newsletter to share, please let us know. We also have brochures. We’ll be happy to send you what you need.

Helping to spread the word about the Joseph House is an extremely important contribution to make. It’s a great way to be part of our mission to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and those most in need.

As always, we are very grateful for everything you do to help us help others.

We depend on your donations, of course, but your prayers and encouragement really do mean a lot to us and lift our spirits when the days seem long and the work endless.

May God be with you and bless you and fill this year with many reminders that you are loved!

Newsletter: December 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

In 1944, a letter was printed in the Stars and Stripes newspaper that contained the following:

It is 0200 hours and I have been lying awake for an hour listening to the steady even breathing of the other three nurses in the tent, thinking about some of the things we had discussed during the day. The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn’t help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being. It is slow. It is gradual. It is done all the time in these field hospitals and other hospitals in the ETO [European Theater of Operations].

The letter writer was Lt. Frances Slanger, an Army nurse, whose family arrived in the United States as Jewish immigrants from Poland when she was a child. After becoming a nurse, Frances enlisted in the Army and landed in Normandy shortly after the D-Day invasion. She also has the distinction of being the first American nurse to die in Europe in World War II. In fact, she lost her life within hours of writing her letter, the victim of an artillery attack. Her selfless courage is truly an inspiration.

In her letter, Frances gets to the heart of the matter regarding what it means to help someone in need. When people are wounded, suffering, impaired, or beaten down, overnight miraculous recoveries are rare. As Frances understood, as she witnessed in field hospitals tending to injured G.I.’s, the spark of life can be nursed back, but it is slow and gradual.

We can talk about having hope, but when we are patient that is when we show we believe it. The men who enter the Joseph House Workshop depend on this type of steadfast dedication. Many have been homeless or incarcerated for years. They’ve been controlled, for as long as they can remember, by substance abuse and other health problems. They can’t turn their lives around with a quick fix. But from our vantage point as companions on their journey, we see how caring for someone with patience and sensitivity can do what seems impossible. In the end, the men who leave the Workshop are not the same as the ones who entered.

The Joseph House Workshop is a residential facility for homeless men that allows them to stay up to two years as they get the education, training, and health care they need to set off on their own. When a man enters the program, he is told that he is a blank slate—the past is in the past. He can drop the mask and be who he is, the unique and amazing person he was created to be.

Life skills are learned, but the changes go deeper than that: transformations take place, both inside and out. It’s not unusual for us to see the men getting haircuts or dressing differently, outward indicators of a new sense of pride. For one resident, the change could be seen in the brim of his baseball cap. Over time it slowly lifted from covering his eyes until his face was completely visible: he was unafraid to let his true self be seen.

The success of the Workshop is due to our staff members, Dr. Art Marsh, the Director, and Mr. Rudy Drummond, the Assistant Director.

Art and Rudy make a great team. They both have a deep understanding of the issues facing the men in the Workshop. Since the men live on the premises, attention is given toward creating a healthy, family-type environment that is conducive to personal growth. Sitting down each night at the dinner table, for example, is essential. Not surprisingly, the friendships and fraternal bonds that form drive a lot of the changes that occur. The men spur each other on.

Every three months, the staff meets with each resident to discuss his personal goals. Sometimes a resident will think he has everything squared away, but at the next meeting he’s aiming for new sights— he’s hungry for more as the light inside starts to spread.

It is so important not to give up on people! Life for everyone goes up and down, and we must walk together and find our strength in each other.

Out of necessity, we have less time to spend with the people who come to the Joseph House Crisis Center. There are too many with urgent needs. Our love and concern are not lessened, however.

Nora, 35, has two children. Her husband broke her jaw and is now in jail. Nora receives $450 per month in temporary welfare. It’s not nearly enough to pay all the bills. We sent $225 to her landlord to halt the eviction process.

Hayley has been homeless for four months. She was assaulted one night while sleeping under a bridge in a homeless camp. One of her eyes sustained a severe injury. Hayley has a long history of being abused. A social worker has started looking after her, which is a ray of hope. With arrangements for stable housing forthcoming, we provided Hayley with four nights in a motel ($237) plus plenty of food and other necessities.

Donald, 50, is on temporary disability ($536 per month). He is waiting to have two knee replacement surgeries. The gas has been turned off at his address since last spring. With cold weather approaching and no heat in his house, Donald turned to us for help. We paid the old bill of $135 so his gas account could be restored.

Every day at the Joseph House—because of you—we are reminded of the true spirit of Christmas. Your selfless giving, your willingness to sacrifice and share for the benefit of people you don’t know, with no thought of receiving anything in return, allows our ministry to continue. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

As the year draws to a close we think of our family and friends and all the special people in our lives. May God’s love and blessing be upon us all, and may our Savior bring the hope, healing, and peace we so ardently desire. From our little family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

We received this letter from a homeless man who visited the Crisis Center:

I would just like to take this time to express my thanks to you. You don’t know how grateful I am for what you’re willing to do for me.

There comes a time in a person’s life when they must get their priorities in order before it’s too late. Well, I’m at that road, I guess. It was intended for me to endure what I have so far.

With unrelenting faith in Father God through our Savior Jesus Christ I will be just fine.

I was blessed the first time I set foot in Joseph House. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.

God bless all the volunteers at Joseph House! God bless Joseph House and the Little Nuns!

We can assist people like this gentleman because of your support. Every donation makes a difference in someone’s life. You have our immense gratitude for enabling us to be there for people in need. Your prayers and encouragement keep our spirits lifted!

You can make a donation at this link: Donate Online

Christmas is a time of joy. It is also a time of mixed emotions for many people. What is in your heart? Send us a note and we will raise our voices in praying for your needs during this holy season: Contact Form


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Newsletter: November 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?

Reflecting on this can help us see all the things we take for granted: a place to live, a warm bed, food, clothing, our health, family and friends… the list goes on and on. It’s easy to forget that often we have more than enough, and that there’s a difference between our wants and our needs. If we are lacking anything it’s a sense of contentment.

Before eating Thanksgiving dinner, millions of people across the country will bow their heads and do what our national holiday is named for: give thanks. Oh how our lives become enriched when we make this an everyday activity! Taking a moment to be thankful at every meal is one of the best ways to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”

The Jewish table blessings have always appealed to us in a certain way. They invoke God as the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, reminding us that the entire universe is needed for us to have even a slice of bread. The rays of light streaming from the sun, plus the water, minerals and elements of the earth, all come together to make the simplest morsel. No matter who we are, our existence depends on so many things that are just given to us. How can we not be thankful?

A humbling aspect of our work at the Joseph House is meeting people who will gladly take what would otherwise be thrown away. But people deserve more than scraps. Through God’s grace we are united with you in being drawn to those in need. God has opened our ears to the cries of the poor, and if we each do our part then others will have, at the very least, their basic needs met. No one will have to shiver in the cold, face an empty refrigerator, or endure the perils of being homeless.

Celeste, 33, knows how hard it is not to have a home, and unfortunately so do her four children. They became homeless after Celeste lost her job. For eight long months they did not have a fixed address. A friend took them in, but when the landlord found out he ordered them to leave. Celeste now has a new job and works 30 hours per week. The possibility of additional hours is in the near future. To help Celeste and her family get settled off the streets, the Joseph House contributed $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment.

Duane, 26, was also homeless. He was renting a room in a house that burned to the ground. He lost everything, and two weeks later he was laid off from his job because of a seasonal slowdown (he works in a shipyard). We paid $150 for another rental so Duane can get back on his feet.

Bryan is only 25, but his heart has already given out and he needed a transplant. He is a veteran and he thinks his service in Iraq has something to do with it. After being on disability Bryan recently returned to work. He is married and has three children. Bryan doesn’t earn much at his job, and paying the bills is a struggle. We paid $200 toward a delinquent electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Pat, 53, is disabled after multiple surgeries on his neck, shoulders, and back. He receives a monthly check for $576. His wife of 30 years has been treated for breast and colon cancer. The cancer has spread, but she still works full-time—she has no choice—and brings home about $1000 per month. Pat needed help paying an overdue electric bill. We contributed $200.

About a year ago, Jerome, 62, began a downward spiral because of breathing and lung problems. He was hospitalized several times and could no longer work. At first, his landlord overlooked the unpaid rent, but when the amount reached $5,000 he sent Jerome packing. With the last of his money Jerome moved into a motel room. He came to our Crisis Center when he had nothing left. We sent $300 to the motel to give Jerome the time he needs until he receives his first Social Security check. A destitute person in such poor health must not be homeless.

Your donations are a lifesaver!

Thank you for all the ways you show your support for us and the poor. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with abundant blessings throughout the year. You are always in our prayers.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


HOLIDAY HELP NEEDED

We need donations of food and toys, which can be delivered to our convent at 411 North Poplar Hill Avenue in Salisbury.

Please help us to make the holidays brighter for hundreds of families.

Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 18. Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 16. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns. Please call us at 410-742-9590 or send a message if you have any questions.

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