The Dwelling Place December 2015 Newsletter
You may be asking, “What can I do to make a difference when I see such staggering statistics about our homeless brothers and sisters?” The problem is so complex and solutions seem to be beyond our reach. As we ponder the story of a young family in Bethlehem searching for a safe home for the birth of their child, I would like to encourage your involvement. What seem like small efforts do make a difference. Here is one specific action you can take to help make room in the Inn.
– – – – Be an Advocate:
The Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing asks that Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio launch a new statewide supportive housing program consisting of 35,000 units to be created in partnership with New York City and localities across the state with large and growing homeless populations over the next ten years. The supportive housing model combines affordable housing assistance with vital support services for individuals living with mental illness, HIV/AIDS or other serious health problems. Several of our women who were ready to move on from The Dwelling Place now live in supportive housing sites and are thriving.
The wait for placement is long and discouraging. Learn more and add your voice to this effort by visiting Proven Solutions. (If you live outside of New York contact your local and state representatives to see how you can make a difference in your city and state.)
Here at The Dwelling Place we serve 15 residents at a time along with the many women who join us on Wednesday evenings each week. Our impact may seem small in light of the staggering number of homeless, yet our services are unique among many shelters in that we provide far more than a roof over a person’s head for the night. Our safe, healing, and structured environment offers women the gift of space, time, and individualized guidance to face their personal challenges, build-up their self-esteem, and develop new life-skills leading them to independence, wholeness, and a sustainable future. The Inn of The Dwelling Place is made possible because of your generosity. You are making room in the Inn. Thank you.
Wishing you and your loved ones the peace and joy of the holiday season!
A COMPASSIONATE VISITOR
About a month ago an elderly gentleman came to the door asking to speak to one of the sisters. A little bent over, with cane in hand, he asked if he could talk with me. I invited him in and we sat downstairs. He told me he goes to Holy Cross Church on 42nd Street and heard one of us speaking at the Mass. Each day he attends Mass and then routinely goes to Dunkin Donuts after and sits by the window and enjoys his coffee.
He then told me of a woman who was standing outside the window with a blanket in hand looking in. She entered the coffee shop and was going around asking for money. He said he usually doesn’t give but for some reason this woman touched him. He thought that the blanket she was carrying was one she used the previous night for sleeping. The women came back to him with the money she had collected, gave it to him, and asked if he would buy her coffee and a donut with it. “They usually don’t like it when I come in and beg,” she told him.
He came to The Dwelling Place because he wanted to do more and knew of us and our ministry. As he was telling me his story, he cried. He was aware of the cold weather coming and worried not only for this woman who touched him but for all those who call the streets home for the night. It was a blessed moment for him and for me hearing his encounter with this woman. May we discover those sacred moments in our lives and be moved to compassion.
— by Sr. Nancy
“Hi, how are you? I’ve been missing you.”
This was a conversation overheard recently as two of our Wednesday evening dinner guests came into the dining room and took their seat at the table. This exchange reflects the spirit that fills the room each Wednesday from 5:30pm-6:30pm. Former residents, elderly neighbors who have no facilities in their living space for cooking, or homeless women from the local area join our residents for a home-cooked meal and companionship. Wednesday night has become a night of bonding and support for this group of women, many of whom have been coming for years because, as one of the women stated, “It is the closest I have come to a home in New York City.”
Wednesday night’s open dinner, prepared by our staff and served by faithful volunteers under the guidance of Sister Pat, offers the women the opportunity to come in from the cold of the city, relax in the homey atmosphere, feel welcomed, and be served with respect, love, and dignity. Devorah, who has been coming for 31 years, says she comes to find rest from the “school of hard knocks” she finds New York City to be as one who has experienced the vulnerability of being homeless. She now has an apartment in Brooklyn yet still comes each week. “The women here are my friends. I come to be with them.” The room lights up as she enters and greets everyone with great exuberance!
Each week Elizabeth, after finishing her meal, looks forward to sitting in the alcove outside the dining room. “I love my spot by the window to sit in a comfortable chair and rest awhile before hitting the streets again. It is a home-like setting for me that I seldom experience.”
The women look forward to the birthday parties held on the first Wednesday of each month. Birthday cake and gifts add to the festivities. They also appreciate the decorations, fresh flowers, and centerpieces prepared for each season and special holiday. One of their favorite celebrations is the Anniversary Dinner held in early October celebrating the opening of The Dwelling Place. Often when they come to their place at the table they will find special surprises to carry with them such as toiletries, warm socks, a knitted hat or scarf, or some chocolates provided by thoughtful donors.
“As we nourish the hungers of the ladies each week, we, too, are nourished and blessed by their presence,” shared Sister Pat. Her sentiments are echoed by all of the staff and volunteers who are involved in this special night for The Dwelling Place.
Thank you to those who now receive our newsletter electronically. Please contact Sister Joann to be added to this list at firstname.lastname@example.org. It helps us protect the environment and lowers printing and mailing costs.