When asked in an interview what she liked most about her job, our founder Sr. Mary Elizabeth Gintling replied: “The fact that we have no red tape. We are free to do for the poor what the poor need.”
That is still true today, and the Joseph House has the freedom to respond to people in need because of our loyal and generous donors.
We receive no government aid to fund our programs. We depend completely on private donations. Only with the support of caring individuals can we respond to the needs, both large and small, of many people.
During the year 2020, more than ever, we had to abandon ourselves to the Providence of God. Like everyone else, we had to adapt quickly to the changing circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Crisis Center remained open and we implemented safety protocols, namely mask wearing and social distancing. Out of necessity, the Soup Kitchen was closed in March because it lacked the space to keep patrons safely apart (it won’t reopen until the virus is under control). Overall, less people visited us than in previous years, probably because they received a stimulus check and/or extended unemployment benefits. But these relief efforts only go so far—when people really needed help, we were here for them.
Here is a summary of the assistance we provided during 2020 at the Joseph House Crisis Center:
1,118 checks and payments were issued to assist with critical needs. 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 consider any request for assistance as long as the need can be demonstrated.
Here are some other figures:
4,505 hot meals were served before the Soup Kitchen closed. On average, more than 300 families per month received food from our Pantry. We gave out a total of 5,232 bags of groceries.
Our Hospitality Room for homeless men and women responded 3,838 times to the needs of visitors. We provided showers, laundry, food, coats, blankets, and personal care products.
At Christmas, 415 children received Christmas gift bags. 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).
Plus, 138 new winter coats were given away to children and adults.
These numbers reflect the hard work, sacrifices, and generosity of many people. When we decide to put love of neighbor into action, we make a difference!
Our donors also keep the Joseph House Workshop in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please read this interview with the Assistant Director to learn how the Workshop is helping homeless men begin new lives: Men with Hope and Purpose.
A Deeper Look at the Impact Your Generosity Makes
There are stories behind every number, stories of people facing misfortune and looking for hope. Here are three that illustrate the type of situations where we intervene:
Rosalind is 70 and recovering from a slight stroke. She is also a cancer patient and must use bottled oxygen continuously. A recent medical test indicated the cancer may have spread to her lymph nodes. Rosalind is waiting to hear from her doctor about treatment methods.
An electric cut-off notice brought Rosalind to the Joseph House. She is behind in making payments because of her many out-of-pocket medical bills. Her husband, who had been out of work, is looking for a job to supplement their Social Security. The Joseph House sent $300 to the electric company.
Jermaine, 47, and his wife are refugees from Haiti. They have three children, including a newborn son. Jermaine works in a chicken factory. He is anxious to move his family to a safer neighborhood, away from the street corner drug deals. Jermaine also believes his current apartment has lead paint. Moving to a new place requires a deposit plus the first month’s rent paid in advance. Jermaine’s day-to-day bills make it difficult to come up with these extra funds. The Joseph House paid $170 to help Jermaine and his family move to a new location that is better for family life.
Adelia, 57, is homebound and in poor health. A monthly disability check provides her income. She called the Crisis Center with a desperate plea: her house was freezing inside. There was something wrong with the heating system, but Adelia didn’t know what. With the outside temperature down to the single digits, our staff acted quickly. A repair company was called and a truck dispatched to Adelia’s house. They discovered the heat pump was clogged with ice. Repairs were made and the Joseph House paid the bill of $160.
At the Joseph House Workshop, our donors allow us to provide a safe and healthy environment for up to eight homeless men. The men are given the time and assistance they need to get job training, address personal growth and health issues, and begin steady employment.
Here is a testimony from Jason, who participated in the Joseph House Workshop:
“Before I came to the Joseph House, I didn’t believe that a program like this one existed. I had gotten clean but couldn’t get on my feet; I needed a fresh start. Everywhere I looked either turned me away or I didn’t have enough money, or they didn’t have room for me. You Sisters have been the exact opposite, because of your ‘intense love’ (1 Peter 4:8). I feel like family here. I have received so much more than I expected, or even deserve. . . . You have shown me there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you so much.”
Your generosity allows us to give in-depth service to people like Jason and emergency help to numerous families in need.
We appreciate your support!