The Dwelling Place December 2016 Newsletter
On October 4, 1977, The Dwelling Place opened its doors and welcomed the first women who came seeking safe shelter and supportive services. A place to call home, a warm bed, nourishing meals, and people who care were rare at that time for homeless women. There were several shelters for men yet only a few available spaces for women. Thus, women hid in the shadows fending for themselves as best they could.
Five Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, including Sister Nancy Chiarello, moved by this disparity in the services offered to homeless women stepped into action. They creatively balanced their work as nurses at St. Clare’s Hospital with their new commitment of service to the many women coming to the door of the newly founded Dwelling Place.
2017 will mark the 40th Anniversary of The Dwelling Place. The sisters thought that their service to homeless women would only be needed for a short time. Yet, 40 years later the need is even greater as the number of homeless increases day by day while safe shelter and affordable housing is dwindling just as quickly. Yet, for 40 years on 40th Street, The Dwelling Place has stood as a beacon of hope and a caring refuge for a countless number of women in great need.
It is with gratitude and wonder, much like the spirit of the sacred holiday season upon us, that we will mark this significant milestone. Inside this edition you will find a list of upcoming events and dates to which we will welcome your presence and participation.
Our new logo, seen at the top of this page, was created by artist, Father Michael Reyes, OFM, in collaboration with Michael Meyerowitz, a graphic designer assisting us with our anniversary celebrations. The logo expresses the essence of our service: loving hands embracing and lifting up the face of a woman, a woman at peace and empowered, rising above the trauma of homelessness to welcome a new beginning much like the lotus flower rising up towards the light to bloom with beauty and radiance.
From its founding, The Dwelling Place has been able to carry out its mission because of people like you, our volunteers and donors, who made these 40 years of service possible. We honor you with gratitude for your faithful support and we stand in wonder at your generosity. It is truly a season of gratitude and wonder that will extend all the way through 2017…our 40th year on 40th Street!
Wishing you holiday joy and blessings,
In May of 2016, the Dwelling Place welcomed Sister Mary Echo Perry, a Sister of Divine Providence from Melbourne, KY(C.D.P.) to serve as a part-time case manager along with Sister Nancy and Sister Pat. Sister Echo joins the staff each Thursday and Friday, meeting individually with the women to offer guidance and support, participating in intake interviews, and assisting with daily operations as needed.
Sister Echo served as a volunteer with The Dwelling Place from October 2014 to May of 2015. During that time she assisted with the Wednesday Night Open Dinners and shared a weekly meal with the residents. She also was available to help with special events and holiday meals.
In returning to The Dwelling Place in May as a staff member Sister Echo stated, “I am so thankful to be on the staff at The Dwelling Place. I feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful ministry. There is a warmth and peace here that can immediately be felt. As a volunteer, I watched as the staff provided compassion, respect and structure for the ladies, restoring their sense of dignity. I saw the positive effects which their approach brings. I had many conversations with the ladies and what I predominantly heard was “I feel safe here.” They told me the love they felt gave them the courage they needed to get their lives back on track.”
Welcoming Sister Echo to our team of case managers offers us the opportunity to highlight the importance of the individual guidance offered to each of our women residents.
When a woman first arrives she is often very vulnerable and shaken from the traumas that led her to our door. Our care of her begins by providing for her basic needs: a warm bed, a closet and night stand to store her personal items, bathroom and shower facilities, and nutritious meals in a safe and caring environment. As she learns to trust us and feel at home she meets regularly with her assigned case manager to set goals and evaluate her progress in addressing the issues that led her to be homeless. Her case manager accompanies her as she rebuilds her life. These efforts take time, patience, and skilled mentoring. The presence and service of our case managers is crucial in a woman’s journey from homeless to home. One of the most repeated phrases heard from former and current residents in describing the companionship received is, “Sister saved my life!”
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