It was a Monday evening on October 4, 1977 when Ida Anderson, our first guest, came to the door looking for shelter. The pastor of Sacred Heart Church on W. 52nd St. knew of the shelter and referred her to us. A short elderly woman with a multitude of shopping bags in her hand, walked in and so started a 44-year-old tradition of welcoming women.
To feed, clothe and shelter homeless women was our dream, but the “how to” would come with time and a listening ear. The women would let us know what they needed. The “Heart” of The Dwelling Place has always been consistent… the how to’s depended on the women. Over the years, our guests have changed. First from women discharged from psychiatric hospitals in the late 70’s, to the gentrification and disappearance of the single room occupancy hotels (SRO’s) in the mid 80’s. The 90’s we began to welcome women who had worked for years and had lost their jobs and exhausted their savings. During this time, we have been able to adapt our focus and energies to address the problems always in a loving, respectful manner.
We believed that if this ministry were of God, God would have to provide. 45 years later, thanks to our faithful benefactors who have supported us financially, volunteering time and talents to be a part of our God’s blessings, the ministry continues.
I have been semi-retired for almost a year now and have been fortunate to been able to share my gifts at the shelter two days a week. We have survived the pandemic with no causalities, thank God, and are seeing a new wave of women, some having experienced mental and physical violence, loss of wages, and a collapse of a support system that gave stability in their lives.
We continue this journey with our ladies knowing how interconnected we all are. With a grateful heart I say thank you for all that has been and remember you all to our God.
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