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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