Newsletter: March 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Home is where our story begins.

If this is true for us then it was true for Jesus when He walked the earth, born into the family of Mary and Joseph. He lived in a home created by His parents in the town of Nazareth. The house itself was likely humble in appearance, square in form and constructed of stone and clay. The roof may have served as an open-air terrace. An oven was probably outside and maybe a fig tree.

It’s interesting to note that Jewish families often kept a wooden receptacle attached to the wall by the door. Inside were strips of parchment on which were written passages from Scripture. Upon entering or leaving the house, the box was reverently touched, an indication of how a family’s dwelling place is sacred ground.

For Jesus, His home in Nazareth was more than simply a place to eat and sleep. It was a place to grow and develop. A place to feel cared for, protected, and loved. Day by day, in moments shared with Mary and Joseph, Jesus became the man we know in the Gospels.

Everyone needs a place to call home. Its importance to family life, and hence society, cannot be overstated. That’s what makes today’s lack of affordable housing so troubling. The problems of many poor families are tied directly to this issue. Forget about getting ahead — high rents, taking 50 to 80% of income, make it impossible for the poor to keep from falling behind.

People come to the Joseph House Crisis Center every week with eviction notices. According to Evicted, a book by Matthew Desmond, in the 1930s the New York Times reported on evictions as newsworthy events. Now it’s a different story: evictions occur every day in communities across the country. Desmond goes on to say:

Eviction’s fallout is severe. Losing a home sends families to shelters, abandoned houses, and the street. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading housing in dangerous neighborhoods, uproots communities, and harms children. Eviction reveals people’s vulnerability and desperation, as well as their ingenuity and guts.

We see this in our work at the Joseph House, and that is why helping families hold onto their housing is a major part of our mission. “Eviction’s fallout is severe.” Imagine all of your belongings out on the street, all of your food going to waste on the sidewalk. What would you tell your children? How would you care for them? Where do you go? What do you do? These are real questions people face.

Linda was one such person desperate to avoid losing her home. She is the mother of five school-age children. For years she worked full-time to provide a stable, supportive life for them. That changed last summer when a serious car accident injured her back. Linda is still in pain and hasn’t been able to return to work.

Linda and her children live in a subdivided house on a country lane, across from a chicken farm. She has exhausted her savings in paying the rent. When an eviction notice was posted on her door, Linda needed to reach out for help. The Joseph House was there for her, and with a $200 payment to her landlord we bought Linda some time. Her application for disability benefits is under review. Getting approved is her family’s best hope for survival, at least for the time being.

Karly, 38, is also struggling to care for her family. She is a divorced mother of three children, two boys and a girl. Karly used to work, but an arthritic condition that makes her feel pain all over her body put an end to her employment. Her two sons are disabled and their combined Social Security of $1,029 monthly provides the family’s income. The rent takes 73% of that.

One day Karly realized the kitchen and bathroom sinks plus the toilet were clogged and not draining. Leaks were sprouting from the old pipes. The landlord called a plumber, who after removing the toilet extracted a child’s toy from the drain pipe. The landlord said the repairs were due to Karly’s negligence and she needed to pay the bill of $399. Otherwise, her lease would not be renewed. Since Karly did not have the money, she appealed to the Joseph House for help. We looked over her budget with her and determined that a $200 contribution would see her through this crisis. Becoming homeless would have greatly jeopardized this family’s health.

When Angelica came to see us she had no fixed address. She and her two young daughters had used up their time at a homeless shelter. Angelica’s goal was to work with children with special needs — she was waiting for her background check to be completed. We paid for several nights in a motel as well as gas for her car.

Cassidy was anxious to leave the disreputable motel where she was living with her six children. She had seen too many rats. Previously, Cassidy and her kids were homeless, living out of her car. When Cassidy found a housekeeping job, she moved everyone into the motel. But now it was time to leave.

Unfortunately, Cassidy’s job pays very little: only $450 in the first month, although her boss has promised her more hours in the near future. Nevertheless, at the moment she had practically no options. Cassidy asked for help at the Joseph House, and we paid for a better motel for her and her family. We also gave her gas for her car and bags of groceries. Shortly thereafter, Cassidy found a suitable apartment to rent. We contributed $200 toward the security deposit so she and her children could make the move into more stable housing.

The Joseph House, of course, will help with any need as long as it can be demonstrated. Rodney, 81, is disabled and cannot walk. His 31-year-old son lives with him, but he has psychiatric problems and cannot function socially. He can do simple tasks if Rodney gives him clear-cut directions. This father and son were living without heat after they ran out of propane. We paid $200 to get the tank refilled.

Many times we help people in their immediate need, and yet their lives are still so precarious. This reminds us that their road is long and hard. Thank you for all the ways you show your love for the poor. We share with you glimpses into their lives, and we are grateful you feel close enough to care about their well-being. You make our work possible.

To make a donation now, click here: Donate Online

We are approaching Holy Week, the unsurpassed teacher on the meaning of love, where actions are as eloquent as words. Let us take it all to heart and put into practice what we can learn.

You are especially close to us in prayer. May Easter shine brightly for you, filling you with the hope and promise of Christ!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

It is quite true that the life of Saint Joseph and of his Holy Family, as regards to the exterior, was an ordinary, modest, unassuming life, and, we may say, a life of monotonous poverty.

But what treasures of genuine peace and true joy were hidden in its interior! In this realm no one wished to be in command or give orders, but all desired from a motive of humble love rather to obey and serve one another. And where love reigns supreme, there are peace and joy, but only there.

Fr. Maurice Meschler, SJ
The Truth About Saint Joseph

Lenten Meal Blessing

In the weeks before Easter, we are given time during Lent to put extra effort in turning toward Christ and becoming more Christ-like. There are three practices to help us in this regard: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. They are three companions on the journey as we convert our hearts. They will help us to become more loving and charitable, more merciful and forgiving.

Meals can be an important part of our observance of Lent, especially when they are simple and bring our attention to the needs of others. Our food connects us with the earth and all the people involved in bringing what we eat to our table. Being more mindful of our food begins by thanking God for His graciousness to us. Here is an excellent table blessing to use from the book, The Work of Your Hands, by Diana Macalintal:

We bless you, Lord, and we praise you, for You have given us this meal to share, provided by the earth and prepared by human hands.

Help us to remember those who cannot eat because of poverty or sickness. Let the brief hunger we feel this Lent make us hunger even more for justice.

May this meal strengthen us to do Your will. Blessed be God for ever.

All: Blessed be God for ever.

Newsletter: February 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The Hospitality Room has been an essential part of the Joseph House Crisis Center for 20 years. It’s a day shelter for men and women who are homeless. Five days a week, they can go to the Hospitality Room and take a shower and have their clothes laundered. A big draw, especially during the cold winter months, is the hot, delicious food served by our volunteers. A steaming bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup means everything on a frigid, blustery day.

As implied by its name, the Hospitality Room does more than provide important services. We found an excellent definition of the word “hospitality” in the book, Looking to St. Francis, by John Bohrer and Joseph Stoutzenberger:

Hospitality means a spirit of welcome and warmth that creates an oasis among us…. Hospitality leaves no room for warfare or clinging to possessions. It calls for simplicity, trust in God, and trust in other people. Just an open hand extended in greeting represents peace, welcome, and recognition of our common humanity.

It seems natural that the beloved saint of Assisi would inspire this understanding.

On a typical day, our Hospitality Room welcomes 20 to 30 people into a space that can feel a little cramped. But if you stop by you might hear laughter. Our volunteers know how to keep the peace and make everyone feel accepted. They really do make the Hospitality Room live up to its name.

Although we help people who are homeless with their material needs, we also give them a chance to simply be, away from the glare of suspicious eyes. Imagine if you were homeless and not welcome anywhere because other people looked at you with apprehension or repugnance. It’s easy to reject those who need help. If we could only see who is also being rejected (cf Mt 25: 42-45).

The Hospitality Room takes a head count every day. The grand total for last year was 4,919. That’s almost five thousand meals, loads of laundry, and showers for the homeless population of the Lower Delmarva Peninsula. The Joseph House can only do that because of your support.

Here are some other numbers from 2017:

Our Soup Kitchen served 11,544 hot meals. The Food Pantry gave out 14,298 bags of groceries to an average of 596 households per month. About 37% of the people receiving food were children.

In terms of Financial Assistance for Emergencies, we responded 1,478 times to help low-income families and individuals. We issued checks to stop evictions, pay security deposits on new rentals, pay overdue electric, gas, and water bills (often restoring services that had been cut off), and purchase heating oil and propane. When shelters were full we paid for motel rooms for families in danger of becoming homeless. Our funds were also used to buy prescription medications and medical devices, emergency dental work, mattresses and bed frames, appliances, and bus tickets. We will always consider any request as long as the need can be demonstrated.

Five struggling families received a donated motor vehicle through the Joseph House. One of these families has 11 children and through us acquired a large passenger van. These invaluable gifts allow the recipients to continue working to support themselves.

At Christmas, 722 children received a bag of gifts. Each bag included a large toy, a smaller one, a book, an activity (puzzle, coloring book, etc.), stocking stuffers, and cold weather gear (hats, gloves, scarves). We gave seven new bicycles to especially needy families. In addition, 298 new winter coats were distributed.

The Joseph House Workshop was at or near its capacity of eight residents for 2017. The men in the program, all formerly homeless, develop life skills and receive support for finding and maintaining employment. Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Workshop takes a comprehensive approach: classroom discussions cover everything from character building to interviewing techniques, neglected medical issues are addressed, recovery options continue, and transportation provided to and from job sites.

Our men find jobs and more than that: bonds of brotherhood are formed and personal growth takes root. Every step is a victory.

We hope you realize your generosity is doing more than you thought. When you give to the Joseph House you are part of a wellspring of goodwill, generated by ordinary people who want to help those in need. It’s as simple as putting “love thy neighbor” into practice — look what we can do when we work together!

Dear friend, you have our immense gratitude. Special thanks also go to: Bonnie Luna and the volunteers, performers, and attendees of the Magi Choral Festival; Bernie Greene and the volunteers and participants of the Salisbury Neighborhood Food Drive; the organizing committee, volunteers, and participants of our Annual Golf Tournament; the coalition of local churches who prepare and serve food for our Soup Kitchen; St. Francis de Sales Church; the Knights of Columbus; Sherwood Automotive; WBOC; Toys for Tots; Mason Dixon Woodworkers; and our faithful volunteers, the heart and hands of our service to the poor.

This is only a partial list. There is always the risk of leaving someone out, and it is guaranteed since many people support our ministry. Please take to heart that every offering is gratefully received and makes a real difference in someone’s life. Our deeds are an open book before the Lord, who rejoices in the love made manifest in the world. Everything done for the good of others is never forgotten.

We love hearing from you and enjoy reading the notes that many of you send. With the help of a few volunteers, we stuff our Newsletter envelopes ourselves. Many of the names on our mailing list we recognize as old friends. We wish we could get to know all of you personally. Feel free to drop us a line!

May God’s loving care surround you on these winter days. United with you in prayer, we are

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

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Housing Needs Can’t Wait

This has been a very busy week at the Joseph House Crisis Center. More than 50 families came seeking financial assistance, many in regards to housing.

When housing needs are on the line, we can’t delay in responding – especially when the weather is cold.

A house does more than provide protection from the elements, however. It’s where family life takes root, where each member finds the stability to grow and prosper.

Studies show that stable housing leads to better parenting, to better grades and less absenteeism at school, to less health problems. Stable housing creates better outcomes across the board.

When families are evicted, so much is lost.

Miranda is one person that the Joseph House was able to assist recently. Each person’s story is unique, yet there are similarities. If there’s a lesson we can draw from our experience it’s that life doesn’t always go as planned. Anyone, at anytime, might need the help of others.

Miranda had cancer surgery several weeks ago. It was successful, but unfortunately she lost her job because she wasn’t able to work during her recovery. Miranda has a ten-year-old son. She is looking for a new job, but the bills come in fast. An eviction notice soon landed at the top of the pile.

Miranda came to the Joseph House, where a volunteer spoke with her and verified her need. We sent money to the landlord, buying time for Miranda to get back on her feet. As always, we responded quickly, directly, with no red tape.

Our concern for those in need makes us aware of our blessings. It also calls us to action. The Joseph House depends entirely on the private support of people who wish to show their care and compassion for others.

If you would like to help, you can do so here: Donate Online

Newsletter: January 2018

Pope John Paul I.

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

To the world, he was John Paul I, a pope known primarily for the shortness of his term (33 days). To Pia Luciani, however, he was Uncle Albino, and in a recent interview she shared her memories of him:

Pia: He told stories, sometimes even jokes with a moral ending, exhorting us always to practice eutrapelia.

Reporter: Excuse me, what does that mean?

Pia: It is a Greek word, it means showing happiness to others, finding the joyful and playful side in all things, because, he told us, “When things go wrong, they never go completely wrong. There is always a solution.”

Eutrapelia. There, we’ve learned a new word for the new year and a good one to keep in mind. 2017 had a heaviness to it, and we need to look for the light, for the solutions to our problems, because they exist.

Dorothy Day, the writer and social activist, had a similar philosophy she called the “duty of delight.” She made it her response to suffering:

I was thinking how, as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy which goes with loving.

It’s easy to look at the world today and sigh. The problems can seem overwhelming. Unthinkable violence is becoming commonplace. The common good is sacrificed because of greed and the lust for power. Life is devalued and creation is just a commodity and trash dump. But reacting with fear and despair leaves us cold. That turns the human heart into stone, and makes us mean and self-centered and prone to scapegoating.

Dorothy Day.

As Dorothy said, despair is a temptation, and overcoming it requires making a decision, every day, to move in the other direction with action, effort, and focus. She was ready for her critics:

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.

To that we say, “Amen!” We know we’re not alone in believing this because so many steadfast people keep the Joseph House Crisis Center in operation. How wonderful it is to be united in working for the good of others, to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Your support makes a difference. Here are a few people who can tell you how much:

Charlene, 31, is the mother of four children. A few months ago she had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed as bipolar. The process of recovery is not easy — Charlene is working hard to incorporate it into her journey through life. After finding the right medication level she is starting to feel more settled. She would have been lost without her mother’s help in taking care of the children.

Charlene came to the Joseph House a week before she was scheduled to return to work as a nursing assistant. A notice had been taped to her door by the sheriff’s office, stating that she was going to be evicted because of non-payment of rent. We called her landlord and received disheartening news: the entire amount of $1,400 needed to be paid to stop the eviction, not a penny less. That was way beyond our budget. We told Charlene we could hold $225 for her in case she found another source of funds.

Then the unexpected happened. An anonymous donor came to the door with a check for $1,400 to be used for Charlene’s rent. What? Angels exist! Charlene was overjoyed and so grateful as she took the check to her landlord.

Hilda, 40, lost everything when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. She and her young son made their way to the States and the Eastern Shore, living in a car for over a month. A childhood friend in the area helped Hilda find a place to live. After we paid $200 toward the security deposit, Hilda and her son were able to make the move before winter arrived. Her new landlord gave them some furniture and clothing. Hilda and her son have little, but it is more than what they left behind.

Jack is in his sixties and going through some major life events. He was recently widowed and just lost his job as a bail bondsman (after 20 years). Before that he was a police officer. Jack lives with his son who has kidney problems and may or may not be able to go back to work. Jack himself has a large tumor attached to his spine. In the midst of this he is looking for a job. Jack came to the Joseph House after the water was shut off in his home. He never thought he would have to ask for help. We sent $250 to the water utility.

Don, 60, went on disability after suffering a series of mini strokes. He can no longer work as a truck driver. He lives very frugally but is still having a hard time paying his basic expenses. We paid $250 toward his electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Mavis, 67, is working as a home health aide to support herself. She had back surgery not that long ago and is slowly recovering. The loss of work put her behind in her rent. Even though Mavis must walk with a cane, she feels she is almost ready to return to her job. She has no choice. We sent $200 to her landlord.

Antonia was homeless with her three children. Fortunately, a shelter had a family room available, and once Antonia knew her children were off the streets she could piece her life together. Before their time was up she found a housekeeping job. We paid $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment so she and her children could escape the cycle of homelessness.

It is very gratifying when we can help families in crisis take a step toward stable living. Thank you for your generosity in supporting the Joseph House. As we begin a new year, we hope you will continue to join us in our service to those in need. We will have a report on our activities during 2017 next month.

Every night when we go to sleep we place ourselves in the hands of God. He is the reason we can rise with joy and look forward to the day, knowing that whatever happens we will get through it together. May His abiding love grant you peace and much happiness.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Sr. Marilyn Bouchard, LSJM.

With the unanimous consent of her community, Sr. Marilyn Bouchard has been named Superior General of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary. She replaces Sr. Connie Ladd, who served faithfully for 15 years.

Sr. Marilyn hails from Wisconsin and entered our community in 1990. She supervised our Baltimore mission for several years and then was the “right-hand woman” of Sr. Mary Elizabeth. Sr. Marilyn has been active in all aspects of the Joseph House and maintains close ties with the Village of Hope. She is an excellent promoter of our ministry to the community at large.

Sr. Connie will assist Sr. Marilyn as Vicar General. We pray that God will bless these two dedicated servants as they guide our community and direct our ministry with the poor. In His kindness, may He send wisdom and strength to help Sr. Marilyn carry out her new responsibilities of leadership. We know with her gentle spirit and loving heart she will be a good steward of the mission entrusted to us by our founder.

First Steps Toward Helping the Poor

January is Poverty Awareness Month.

According to the Census Bureau, 43.1 million people in the United States live in poverty. Of these, about 19.5 million live in deep poverty, which means their household income is less than 50% of the poverty threshold.

Furthermore, 105 million people live close to being in poverty. Their household incomes are above the poverty threshold, but they experience various degrees of insecurity in acquiring food, housing, utilities, and other necessities.

Poverty is something that affects a lot of people. What can we do to help?

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development offers two suggestions that anyone can do at anytime. They are good starting points:

Choose your words wisely. Using derogatory terms and/or making generalizations about people who are living in poverty works against people who are trying to get back on their feet. Instead, talk with people who are struggling and listen to their stories.

Show respect. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. Be respectful of people’s occupation and considerate of all types of workers we encounter every day.

Here’s an example to consider: when we sit down to eat, it is likely that many people at the bottom of the economic ladder were involved in providing our food, from the fields to the store.

Let our words and behavior show the respect that is due to all persons. From this foundation, an open heart leads to an open hand – a hand of welcome, a hand to help someone up.

When St. Joseph Sleeps

As Head of the Holy Family, extraordinary demands were placed on St. Joseph, and he worked hard at being the best husband and father he could be. This involved not only doing, but listening. St. Joseph was receptive to God’s will, and that set the course for the action he took. His life turned out far differently from the one he had planned. And for that we are eternally grateful!

To be strong yet pliable: the same attitude can guide us as we look after the people entrusted to our care.

During an apostolic journey to the Philippines in 2015, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of St. Joseph, what we can learn from him, and how we can trust in his prayers. His remarks were given at a meeting with families at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. Here is an excerpt:

The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do, we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams….

I am very fond of dreams in families. For nine months every mother and father dream about their baby. Am I right? [Yes!] They dream about what kind of child he or she will be… You can’t have a family without dreams. Once a family loses the ability to dream, children do not grow, love does not grow, life shrivels up and dies.

So I ask you each evening, when you make your examination of conscience, to also ask yourselves this question: Today did I dream about my children’s future? Today did I dream about the love of my husband, my wife? Did I dream about my parents and grandparents who have gone before me? Dreaming is very important. Especially dreaming in families. Do not lose this ability to dream!

How many difficulties in married life are resolved when we leave room for dreaming, when we stop a moment to think of our spouse, and we dream about the goodness present in the good things all around us. So it is very important to reclaim love by what we do each day. Do not ever stop being newlyweds!…

Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.

Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. To make a home for Jesus! You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities….

Demonstrating the receptive pose of St. Joseph.

I would also like to tell you something very personal. I have great love for St. Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of St. Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath St. Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!

Newsletter: December 2017

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

In depicting the birth of Christ, Byzantine icons sometimes show St. Joseph sitting away from the manger, either resting with his eyes closed (symbolizing his dreams) or facing the devil (symbolizing the temptation to disbelief).

Art in Western culture places St. Joseph inside the stable, usually holding a lantern or leaning on his staff. The focus, of course, is on the baby Jesus and His mother Mary: classical artists enveloped them in a heavenly radiance. In some paintings, you have to look twice to find Joseph. But despite being in the background, he is not a “background” character in the story.

Quite the contrary. Although our patron saint probably liked to avoid the limelight, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t involved in our Savior’s birth. St. Joseph had to protect and care for Mary on the journey to Bethlehem, he had to find shelter for her, come up with a plan ‘B’ when the inns were full, keep her warm and comfortable in the stable, and when the time came for her to have her baby, he had to attend to all of her immediate needs. And then came the flight into Egypt, a perilous crossing that is glossed over in Scripture. St. Joseph had to be the hero for Mother and Child.

There was a lot to be done behind the scenes — and St. Joseph did it all with love. That was his specialty. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “St. Joseph has the power to assist us in all cases, in every necessity, in every undertaking.” That was true for Mary and Jesus, and it is true for us through the power of his heavenly intercession.

The world needs St. Joseph. The world needs his dedication to family life and his fidelity to God, even when that requires facing adversity. As we contemplate the manger this Christmas, we must remember his strong, fatherly presence. . . a presence that made Mary and Jesus — who were so vulnerable — feel so safe.

Today, if you want to see the spirit of St. Joseph at work, come visit the Joseph House Crisis Center. Our volunteers embody his selfless and generous service. They also do the hidden work that goes unnoticed but is essential for our ministry.

You, with your prayers, donations, and financial support, make it all possible. For families in need, there is food on the table and a roof over their heads — because of you.

Joni, 31, is the mother of six. She works as a housekeeper in a resort hotel to support her family. When her mother had a stroke, Joni had to take a short, unpaid leave of absence to help care for her. Joni could not afford to lose the income, but her mother needed her. When the rent was due, Joni couldn’t pay it and received an eviction notice. That was the price she paid for helping her mother.

We sent $200 to the landlord to keep Joni and her children from becoming homeless. There are legions of people like Joni, women and men who work thankless jobs. They might as well be invisible. How often do we stop and consider their struggles?

Cheryl, 51, is another family caregiver. Her daughter has a late-stage cancer. The water was shut off in Cheryl’s home because she was beset by so many bills and so little money to pay for them. She has started a new job in a chicken processing plant, but climbing out of debt can be very hard. We paid the outstanding water bill of $217.

Rosie, 80, lives in a small house by the side of the road in a rural area. Her home is heated by propane and the tank was completely empty. She traveled 30 miles and crossed a state line to the Joseph House, looking for help. We paid $200 to the gas company.

Brianna, 32, lost her job at a hotel when business slowed down after the summer. The only other work she could find was a part-time job at a supermarket. Her husband Mike is in poor health. He was recently approved for disability but has not yet received any benefits.

It didn’t take long for Brianna and Mike to slide into the despair of poverty. Little things like soap and household supplies became unaffordable, not to mention the rent. Worries about money were eating away at the couple: Brianna experienced respiratory distress and had to be hospitalized for a few days. We sent $230 to their landlord, buying time to help Brianna and Mike make it through their hardships.

Phoebe, 56, lives in a one-room apartment, surrounded by concrete in a commercial zone. There is no greenery, no shade. Phoebe’s room is home for her and has been for seven years. She is disabled and it’s the only affordable place she can find. Even so, she lives on a pittance and is chronically late with the rent. She hadn’t realized that most of what she was paying was going to the late fees. Phoebe was worried and confused when she received an eviction notice. The Department of Social Services paid the back rent that was due. We paid $259 to cover the remaining costs and cancel the eviction.

Thank you once again for the many ways you show your love for the poor. You bring the Christmas spirit to them year-round. Food, shelter, heat, electricity, medicine. . . these are the gifts they receive because of you.

Your financial support keeps the Joseph House going, not any government funding. Just you and your concern for those in need. You can donate online here. It’s easy to do. Make a one-time or recurring donation. You can also donate in memory of someone.

The birth of Jesus can be a new birth for us. Knowing that you have helped someone in need will add special meaning to your celebration of Christmas.

You are close to us in prayer. Please use the Contact Form and send us your special intentions so we can pray for you during this holy season.

From all of us at the convent, the Joseph House Crisis Center, and the Joseph House Workshop, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

What am I preaching with my life?

Our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth was inspired by Br. Charles de Foucauld, who wrote:
Let us preach the Gospel in silence and with words….

It is the responsibility of all to preach in silence.

As for preaching with words, some should do it more than others,

but there are very few who should not do it at all.

This is according to each one’s vocation.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling made preaching the Gospel her life’s work.

What made it natural for her was that she let the Gospel shape every aspect of her life. She could not not preach the Gospel by the way she lived. Anything she might possibly call her own she gave back to God. He had access to everything.

Sister exemplified the observation of St. Vincent de Paul: “If God is the center of your life, no words are necessary. Your mere presence will touch hearts.”

She had a few big moments in her life, but like everyone else her days were filled with little ones. She did the same things, with the same people, day in and day out. She “preached” a lot in those moments, giving witness to the love and mercy of God by being loving and merciful herself. Br. Charles said his goal was to have people look at him and say, “If that is the servant, imagine what the Master must be like!” Sister took that approach, too.

For personal reflection: What am I preaching by the way I live my life? I might be the only sermon someone else hears today.

Newsletter: November 2017

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

A few years ago, Fr. Paul Mast, a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, spent a six-month sabbatical immersed in the lives of people living on the streets. The experience spoke to his heart, and he wrote about what he learned in a book called Street Sabbatical. In one story, he describes how helping the homeless involved a creative approach with their all-too-familiar cardboard signs:

I played the Public Relations Guru by challenging the imagination of two homeless men to change the message on their cardboard signs. Most of the signs I see have words that sound like “standard issue.” The message is so common and expected that the ones who carry them become invisible. The people walking the streets who live in houses aren’t inspired to engage those homeless because the signs have become familiar and in our culture, familiarity breeds contempt.

When I suggested that their signs tell a story they laughed saying their piece of cardboard wasn’t big enough to tell a story. I told them that it wasn’t the amount of words that told a story but the choice of words. Supposedly, Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a “full” story in just six words. Legend has it he wrote: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn!” What a story hidden in those words.

Those two homeless men stopped laughing when they heard that and after they got quiet we began to rewrite their signs. Here is what our imaginations created:

I’ve forgotten what a kind word sounds like. Please speak one!
I’m good at Please. Help me say Thank you more!
I’ve lost my dignity. Help me find it in your smile!
I’ve forgotten how to smile. Can I use your face as a mirror?
I hunger for a kind word as much as a cup of coffee.
Being homeless happened. Help me dream a way out of it.
Homeless, but also hungry for hope.
What I really need is a Good Samaritan!

Take a moment to reflect on these messages. Imagine people holding them. They can help us to see the homeless with new eyes. They can reactivate our feelings of compassion that have become worn out — a little humanizing goes a long way.

Fr. Paul Mast.

As Fr. Mast writes, these messages help us to “see a person with a story and not just someone stuck with the label ‘homeless.'”

Yes, every person has a story. By reading this Newsletter, you’ve gotten to know the stories of people who live in poverty. They are not anonymous faces — they are people who endure hunger, homelessness, and the other miseries of being poor. They are people who don’t have the luxury of ignoring these realities.

Your support of the Joseph House breaks the isolation that makes the poor feel their circumstances are hopeless. Thank you for being there for us — and for the people we lovingly serve.

We’d like to bring attention to one couple’s story. Eddie and Camille were homeless when they first came to the Joseph House. Eddie had back problems from an accident at work, and Camille was suffering from severe food poisoning. We immediately took her to the hospital where she stayed for four days. Upon her release, she joined Eddie in a motel room that we provided temporarily.

We then found a place for Eddie and Camille in a transitional shelter to give them time to get back on their feet. That was three months ago. Eddie now has a job at a restaurant and confided to us that he is no longer taking pain pills (he was afraid he was getting addicted). Tina is working part-time at a bank. They are saving money and getting ready to move out of the shelter. Both Eddie and Camille look to the future with optimism, something that once seemed impossible.

There is one thing they really need: reliable transportation. Eddie walks an hour to work each day, and although Camille can catch the bus, that may change when they move. Maybe someone would like to donate a used car? We are making this request and leaving it in God’s care.

Your generosity does so much for people in need. Stefan, for example, is 29 years old and autistic. His mother, who lives with and cares for him, said Stefan was born this way. She also told us his teeth never developed properly. They lack enamel and are rotting. We could see that Stefan’s teeth were in bad shape. His mother was worried about the pain and the spread of infection through his body. We called a dentist and paid $200 so Stefan could have emergency dental work.

Ginger, 36, is deaf and the mother of three. She recently moved her family because their previous residence was uninhabitable. Their new place is better, and Ginger was working as a dish washer to support her children. Then she lost her job, couldn’t pay the rent, and received an eviction notice. We sent the landlord $180 to give Ginger time to find a new job and not become homeless with her family.

The Joseph House assists working families every week and it’s all thanks to you.

Can we ask for even more? We try to make the holiday season a little brighter for the poor, and we need your help!

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

Frozen turkeys and chickens for Thanksgiving are needed by November 20.

Christmas toys and gifts (new and unwrapped) for children up to the age of 14 are needed by December 17. We prefer gifts that do not require batteries. Also, we cannot accept toy guns. Please contact us if you have any questions (410-742-9590 or

There have been several tragic events lately, both at the hands of nature and of man. So many people have suffered grievous losses. The heartache touches us deeply and makes us grateful for all the things we take for granted. Perhaps this year as we celebrate Thanksgiving we can show our gratitude by reaching out a little more to those in need.

May this Day of Thanks be a blessing to you and the ones you hold dear!

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


A Thanksgiving Prayer

O God, our God, we come before you in thanksgiving.

We come before you in the richness of autumn, pondering the shapes and colors of all your gifts, marveling at the landscape of our lives.

We come before you, filled with the power of your love, recognizing your presence, in the fruits of our labors and the bonds of our relationships.

We gather our sunshine and our shadow, our joy and our pain, our success and our failure, our love and our loneliness and, binding all together, we give them back to you.

We come before you like trusting children with outstretched arms, embracing all that fills the fields of our lives, lifting up every precious gift for your holy blessing.

Receive what we are, and make our lives whole.

Bless our world, and bring all your children peace.

And finally, gather all that you have created into the eternal celebration of your love.


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