Newsletter: June 2019

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

The month of June is the turning point of the year. As we approach the summer solstice, the days stretch out with long hours of sunlight, while the darkness of night takes a temporary retreat.

But for human beings, darkness isn’t confined to the night sky. Summer days notwithstanding, darkness can creep into our lives at any time. Although shadows pass over everyone’s life, for some people they don’t seem to move along. Whether it’s because of sudden misfortune, tragic circumstances, or being a victim of injustice, a shroud of despair can cover someone completely. It may as well be the dead of winter.

We know it’s tempting to focus only on our own happiness. Especially during the summer, when our thoughts turn to vacations and pleasant living, we don’t want to dwell on those who are suffering. But in the end, that’s not a very satisfying way to live.

The happiest people tend to be those who are a ray of sunshine for someone else. This is crystal clear to us from our work at the Joseph House. We meet many people who are determined to brighten someone’s day. For example, the owner of a thrift shop felt inspired to fill bags and purses from her shop with supplies for people who are homeless. She delivered these unique care packages to us so we can give them away in our Hospitality Room. Another person comes to our convent each week to lead us in an exercise class. She helps to keep us limber and energized so we’re able to face the demands of our ministry.

There is a common denominator in each act of giving and that is joy.

No matter what we can do, let us not remain passive and neutral when faced with our neighbor in distress. Let us make the light of the Gospel shine brightly on these situations. As Mother Teresa always said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”

And remember: society gets better when people look beyond self-interest and are committed to the good of their neighbor.

That’s a test of how well we are living the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves: by our commitment in seeking for them the good things we desire.

Commitment is so important. It is the special ingredient that makes generosity more generous and service more effective. It’s what gives love a strong and sure foundation. Thanks to your ongoing support, the Joseph House is here week after week to help people in their times of crisis.

Sharon, 36, is well acquainted with dark days. She used to live with her father until their house went into foreclosure. They parted ways and Sharon ended up being homeless. In the past, heroin had been her escape from any problems or pain. Now it took control over her life. She started to prostitute herself to feed her addiction.

Six months ago, Sharon used drugs for the last time. She has been working hard to stay clean, all the while moving in and out of homeless shelters. Another agency has been helping her find a permanent place to live. Since Sharon had used up all of her time in the shelters, we paid $300 so she could stay in a motel, away from the danger of the streets.

Estelle, 49, is grieving the sudden loss of her son. He was only 20 years old when he died in his sleep from cardiac arrest. Her eyes glistening, Estelle beamed with pride when she spoke about him. He had volunteered at a homeless shelter and did such a good job that he was hired for a paying position. Estelle shared with us her memories of her son, the music and activities he liked and his favorite foods; chocolate cake was at the top of the list. She is still paying his burial costs and needed help with her gas bill. We contributed $300 and one of our volunteers added another $50 on the spot.

Lillian, 70, lives alone in the country. Ordinarily she manages to get by on her income, but a few months ago she had major problems with her home’s water system. A new well had to be dug, and that set her back considerably. Lillian has been putting off getting some badly needed dental work done. When she reached the point of not being able to ignore it any longer, she asked if we could help. We gladly contributed $200.

Donna, 31, is the mother of four children. Her husband left one day without warning, leaving Donna with no income and many unpaid bills. She was very worried about the electric. It was due to be cut off, and Donna was in anguish thinking of her children living in the dark with no hot water or hot meals. We sent $260 to the electric company to keep the power on.

Aaron and Sandy have four children plus custody of a nephew. Aaron works for a private contractor doing road construction and repair. His job is weather-dependent, and after one rainy month his pay was only $640. That was ten dollars less than the rent alone. Aaron needed to buy food and other necessities for his family, putting his budget even deeper in the red. When his landlord filed an eviction notice, we paid $200 to stop it.

Ashley, 39, works as a delivery driver. While recovering from major surgery she collected temporary disability. The benefits ran out before she was medically cleared to return to her job. Ashley had nothing to pay toward her overdue gas bill. We sent $275 to the utility company on her behalf.

And on behalf of everyone served by the Joseph House, thank you for caring.

May our love for others be seen in what we do. It is a real privilege for us to see up close the love so many people have for their brothers and sisters in need. In fact, it’s almost overwhelming at times. Our founder knew exactly what she was doing when she placed us under the care of Divine Providence. We are extremely grateful for every act of generosity, every word of encouragement, and every prayer. Good things are happening—and it’s because of you!

May God’s tender love keep you in peace during these summer days. With our promise of prayers,

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


We love to pray for people. Send us your prayer requests: Contact Form

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Newsletter: October 2018

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

You’ve heard the adage, “All the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”

This brings to mind the question: what seeds have I planted in the course of my day? Of my words and actions, what has taken root? Will something beautiful grow?

And who will do the harvesting? Have I tilled a field for my own benefit, or have I scattered widely for the sake of others? Some people walk through life like Johnny Appleseed, dropping little seeds of goodness—smiles and kind words and helpful acts—wherever they go. These can blossom in unexpected ways and make a big difference to people we don’t even know.

Our garden patch is what we make of it. If we’re not satisfied, we can always plant something new.

Pope Francis often speaks of the importance of starting a new process, those that result in people-building and not the possession of power: “What we need is to give priority to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity.” (The Joy of the Gospel)

In other words, do we want more love? Plant kindness. More unity? Cultivate understanding. More peace? Propagate justice. Start a new process.

One thing is clear from the lesson of the seed: our hope for a better tomorrow begins with what we do today.

At the Joseph House, your generosity and fidelity grow into marvelous things for the poor. We’re not just talking about the bills that get paid and the food that gets served, as vital as those things are. We mean the family life that gets supported and the human dignity that is affirmed and upheld. In the busy rooms of the Crisis Center, we see a preview of heaven where the less fortunate are honored guests. And you’re a part of all this.

Not that long ago Malia came to see us and she was feeling exhausted. She and her four children were living in a car. She said her children had to wash in a gas station bathroom before going to school. Malia and her family fled to our area from another state. They had to leave because Malia’s fiancé was physically abusive. She has a restraining order against him, but she was afraid he would ignore it and come after her.

Malia was down to her last $25 in cash when she arrived at our Crisis Center. She was able to transfer her subsidized housing voucher to Maryland, but there was going to be a wait until she and her kids could move into an apartment. We paid $500 so they could stay in a motel in the meantime. We also washed three bags of laundry and gave them plenty of food they could microwave in their motel room.

Beatrice and John were also living in a car, and their situation was becoming even more desperate. They were leasing the car and had missed two weekly payments. Beatrice said they had to keep the engine running at all times because if it stopped, the car dealership would use a remote device to keep it from starting up and then repossess the vehicle. Beatrice and John had been out of work for three weeks. They were lining up new positions, but without their car those job prospects would be lost. We wrote a check for the two missed lease payments ($261) and had it delivered to the dealership.

Following open-heart surgery, Gilbert, 58, was out of work for 12 weeks. He has returned to his job, but he was so far behind in his rent that his landlord had to give him an eviction notice. We paid $300 to keep Gilbert from becoming homeless.

Kaylee, 22, works in a chicken factory. Her daughter was born prematurely and has ongoing medical issues; sometimes she needs to be hospitalized. This causes Kaylee to miss work, and it doesn’t take much for her to fall short on a rent payment. To prevent Kaylee from being evicted, we sent $200 to the landlord.

Odelle’s smile was hiding a terrible tragedy: a few months ago her husband was shot and killed in their neighborhood. She feels unsafe where she is living and is haunted by the memories of what happened. Odelle is receiving a monthly benefit of $389. That is the only income she has for herself and her two young sons.

Odelle saw a glimmer of hope when she was approved for subsidized housing. She wants to use this as an opportunity to move to a safer neighborhood. The rules require that she still pay a security deposit, however. We contributed $200 so Odelle and her family can begin to rebuild their lives.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Fifty-three years ago, on October 15, 1965, Sr. Mary Elizabeth started a new process when she opened the Joseph House. The tiny seed she planted was her love for the poor, and she cared for it with her faith in God. Over the years the Joseph House has grown and developed, even after being transplanted from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore. It has always followed the plan of “letting the work build itself through the needs that were expressed by the people in the area.”

Today, the Joseph House Crisis Center—which offers Financial Assistance for emergencies, a Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, and Hospitality Room for the Homeless—and the Joseph House Workshop—which provides comprehensive services 24/7 to help homeless men get back on their feet—still depend on private support to stay in operation. That’s a tall order, but we know the goodness and charity of people like you are a match for it. May God bless you in abundance.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Relying on volunteers was always part of our founder’s plan. Sr. Mary Elizabeth wanted to keep operating costs low so more of your donations could go directly to the poor. She also understood the value of getting people personally involved. She once said:

Whenever I get the least bit discouraged about the state of the world I only have to think of our volunteers and I am filled with hope. Joseph House could not exist without our volunteers. It’s that simple. The entire Joseph House organization runs almost exclusively on volunteers. That’s the way it’s always been. People need the opportunity to give back to the community and to help their fellow man.

The vision and example of Sr. Mary Elizabeth are the treasures of the Joseph House. We remember her and pray for her every day. She departed this earthly life 14 years ago this month, on October 27, 2004.

A PRAYER FOR VOLUNTEERS

Heavenly God,

Holy Scripture says that if my brothers and sisters have no clothes and no food, and I say to them, “Be blessed! Stay warm and well fed,” but I do nothing to meet their needs, what good is that?

Do not let my heart grow so cold that I turn to empty words. Do not let me keep saying, “Someone else will help.” Let me be the one who steps in.

I offer You everything You have given me: my abilities, my talents, and my capacity to love. Direct me to where I can be of service to someone who needs what I can offer.

With a cheerful smile and a compassionate heart, let me be the one who lends a hand. Right now someone is praying for help. Include me in the answer You give.

Amen.