Friday, February 6, 2015

Bitter Cold Nights for Homeless in Painesville, Ohio

Last night was a tough night to be homeless in Painesville, Ohio. Some friends and I were privileged to be able to help them, at least a little. On the winter's coldest and snowiest nights, my friends open up an emergency warming center for the homeless in St. Mary's gym. Some of the main people doing this include Kathy and Dan Philipps, Brian Rice, and several others, including Maggie Rice, Ed Zivkovitch, and gee--I don't know all the names of the helpers.

Last night Ed and I stayed overnight as the people in charge. Kathy Philipps, Linda Coughlin, Brian Rice, Krista Zivkovitch, Kathy Flora and others gave us a big hand before the overnight began and again in the morning as we were packing up and cleaning up the facility.

I took a few pictures so people could get an idea of what this is like. The pictures cannot tell the whole story, and I didn't feel it would be proper to take close-up photos of our guests. All in all we had 15 guests, three of those women. The age range was considerable, but luckily there were no young moms or children. There is another facility for them, Project Hope, about 2-3 miles to the west of St. Mary's.

Pope Francis has weighed in on homelessness and priorities in the world's richest nations

15 cots on the perimeter of the gymnasium

The Pope's view on the mission of the Church

My cot and sleeping bag

The gym is behind the Fr. Hanzo Family Center.
At. St. Mary's in Painesville, we take seriously the Works of Mercy, and we do our best to feed the hungry (via the Karpos Ministry, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and a food pantry). In very cold and snowy weather we shelter the homeless. And we try to "clothe the naked" (so far no one has come naked--ha ha), by offering gloves, coats, hats, shoes, and other clothing--as far as we are able. It is my belief that our pastor, Fr. Steve Vellenga, should get some credit for allowing and facilitating these ministries. Some pastors would have no part of it, despite the exhortations of Pope Francis.

You can't encounter the hungry and the homeless without wondering why this can happen in wealthy America, in wealthy Lake County, Ohio. I believe we must address the structural and institutional reasons for these scandals. Meanwhile, we at St. Mary's take a Catholic Worker approach (rather than the social worker and institutional approach of the Salvation Army or Project Hope). We do what we can to meet radical needs, and we do it without judgement.

No comments: