Forum brings homelessness home to churches FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 8 Nov 1998 22:34:04 -0400


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=46WD via St. Louis Post-Dispatch  Friday, November 6, 1998


=46ORUM BRINGS HOMELESSNESS HOME TO CHURCHES

The theme was that the faces of the homeless in St. Charles
are those of neighbors and relatives.

By Esther Talbot Fenning\
Special To The St. Charles Post


Churches of all denominations are responding to the needs of the homeless
through prevention assistance. Early this week, an open forum titled
"Touched by Homelessness" was held at Christ's Church, 6930 Mexico Road,
St. Peters.

The meeting was narrated by Rich Brooks, director of cultural affairs for
the city of St. Peters. Speakers were social service representatives,
individuals who are longtime advocates for the homeless and those who had
experienced homelessness.

Children from area shelters were represented through their colorful
paintings and drawings, which were displayed in a corner of the sanctuary.
The exhibit can be seen through Nov. 18 at the St. Peters Cultural Arts
Center at Mexico Road and Venture Drive.

The forum was sponsored by area shelters, the St. Charles County Housing
Task Force, Healthy Communities 2000, the Community Council, Christ's
Church and the Cultural Arts Center.

Running throughout the forum was the theme that the faces of the homeless
in St. Charles are those of one's neighbors and relatives. Tucked in among
cozy suburban subdivisions are the elderly, whose homes have been targeted
for condemnation, the single mother living a chaotic existence with
relatives, and in one instance a family of eight spilling over from their
small trailer into an outdoor shed.

Christ's Church houses offices for St. Charles County Habitat For Humanity
and a Dress for Success boutique that supplies tailored suits for women
leaving the welfare rolls to enter the work force.

The Rev. Philip Doeschot (pronounced "dewskit"), pastor of Christ Church,
emphasized that homelessness is a unique and hidden problem in St. Charles
County, where people can live in intolerable situations even though they
have a roof over their heads.

"People in the community deny the problem exists when it's the neighborhood
because they figure if people aren't out on the streets, everything must be
fine," he said. "In actuality, there are all kinds of problems with
overcrowding in a household that contribute to the spiral downward toward
homelessness, and there is much people of faith can do to prevent that from
happening."

After the meeting, Miriam Mahan, director of the Sts. Joachim and Ann Care
Center, discussed a collaborative project recently coordinated by the
center to assist the elderly. More than 400 volunteers from 30 churches,
social action groups and civic organizations have been recruited to help
older residents whose homes have been targeted for condemnation by
municipal code enforcement agencies. Most referrals come from the code
enforcement agencies themselves Mahan said.

Mahan has learned that often, elderly people who have owned and maintained
a home for many years get to a point where they are unable to afford
repairs because of the infirmities of age and economic reasons.

She cited the case of an 82-year-old woman in New Melle whose home was
being sold out from under her because she owed $400 in back taxes.

"She has owned her home for many years, and there was no way we were going
to let her lose it," Mahan said. "We paid the $400 and got volunteers to do
the repair work to bring the home up to code."

=46inancing for the project comes from a $3 user fee processed through the
recorder of deeds from licensing charges. This year, $75,000 remained in
the coffers after the annual allocation to the St. Charles County Housing
Task Force. County administrators requested that the money not be used for
an existing program but rather a collaborative project to prevent
homelessness in the long-term.

"These are our taxes at work with 100 percent going back into the
community. There is no administrative overhead. Money goes for materials
and licensed workers such as plumbers," Mahan said. "The spiritual
advantage is that when the elderly, indigent and disabled find themselves
going from one disaster to another they become isolated. Once a church
starts a relationship with them through its members, a miracle happens.
They come out of isolation and the healing begins."

Other speakers at the forum included two middle aged men who were
abandoned, abused and homeless as children and three single mothers, each
with stories that were similar in that at the lowest point in their lives
all doors were shut to them except for churches.

Dana Webb Hernendez, 34, received counseling, transportation assistance and
other support from the Helping Hands program at St. Joseph Catholic Church
in Cottleville. Webb-Hernendez, who has three children is in her third year
of college. She is working on a degree in social work and is an intern at
Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Center.

"Not only did these people help me but they treated me with great dignity,"
she said.

Ted Sitek, director of Helping Hands, stressed that the program
concentrates on parishioners who need help with home care, transportation
and are homebound.

"Our homeless efforts are handled though our St. Vincent de Paul Society as
it is in many Catholic churches - because helping the homeless is mainly a
community outreach effort," he said. "It is an overwhelming job. Often
these  people literally have no shoes on the feet or clothes on their
backs, and I  take my hat off to those church-sponsored centers that
respond to that need."

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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=46WD via St. Louis Post-Dispatch  Friday, November 6, 1998



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>FORUM BRINGS HOMELESSNESS HOME TO
CHURCHES


The theme was that the faces of the homeless in St. Charles

are those of neighbors and relatives.

</paraindent>

<paraindent><param>right,right,left,left</param>By Esther Talbot
=46enning\

Special To The St. Charles Post

</paraindent>


Churches of all denominations are responding to the needs of the
homeless through prevention assistance. Early this week, an open forum
titled "Touched by Homelessness" was held at Christ's Church, 6930
Mexico Road, St. Peters.


The meeting was narrated by Rich Brooks, director of cultural affairs
for the city of St. Peters. Speakers were social service
representatives, individuals who are longtime advocates for the
homeless and those who had experienced homelessness.


Children from area shelters were represented through their colorful
paintings and drawings, which were displayed in a corner of the
sanctuary. The exhibit can be seen through Nov. 18 at the St. Peters
Cultural Arts Center at Mexico Road and Venture Drive.


The forum was sponsored by area shelters, the St. Charles County
Housing Task Force, Healthy Communities 2000, the Community Council,
Christ's Church and the Cultural Arts Center.


Running throughout the forum was the theme that the faces of the
homeless in St. Charles are those of one's neighbors and relatives.
Tucked in among cozy suburban subdivisions are the elderly, whose homes
have been targeted for condemnation, the single mother living a chaotic
existence with relatives, and in one instance a family of eight
spilling over from their small trailer into an outdoor shed.


Christ's Church houses offices for St. Charles County Habitat For
Humanity and a Dress for Success boutique that supplies tailored suits
for women leaving the welfare rolls to enter the work force.


The Rev. Philip Doeschot (pronounced "dewskit"), pastor of Christ
Church, emphasized that homelessness is a unique and hidden problem in
St. Charles County, where people can live in intolerable situations
even though they have a roof over their heads.


"People in the community deny the problem exists when it's the
neighborhood because they figure if people aren't out on the streets,
everything must be fine," he said. "In actuality, there are all kinds
of problems with overcrowding in a household that contribute to the
spiral downward toward homelessness, and there is much people of faith
can do to prevent that from happening."


After the meeting, Miriam Mahan, director of the Sts. Joachim and Ann
Care Center, discussed a collaborative project recently coordinated by
the center to assist the elderly. More than 400 volunteers from 30
churches, social action groups and civic organizations have been
recruited to help older residents whose homes have been targeted for
condemnation by municipal code enforcement agencies. Most referrals
come from the code enforcement agencies themselves Mahan said.


Mahan has learned that often, elderly people who have owned and
maintained a home for many years get to a point where they are unable
to afford repairs because of the infirmities of age and economic
reasons.


She cited the case of an 82-year-old woman in New Melle whose home was
being sold out from under her because she owed $400 in back taxes.


"She has owned her home for many years, and there was no way we were
going to let her lose it," Mahan said. "We paid the $400 and got
volunteers to do the repair work to bring the home up to code."


=46inancing for the project comes from a $3 user fee processed through
the recorder of deeds from licensing charges. This year, $75,000
remained in the coffers after the annual allocation to the St. Charles
County Housing Task Force. County administrators requested that the
money not be used for an existing program but rather a collaborative
project to prevent homelessness in the long-term.


"These are our taxes at work with 100 percent going back into the
community. There is no administrative overhead. Money goes for
materials and licensed workers such as plumbers," Mahan said. "The
spiritual advantage is that when the elderly, indigent and disabled
find themselves going from one disaster to another they become
isolated. Once a church starts a relationship with them through its
members, a miracle happens. They come out of isolation and the healing
begins."


Other speakers at the forum included two middle aged men who were
abandoned, abused and homeless as children and three single mothers,
each with stories that were similar in that at the lowest point in
their lives all doors were shut to them except for churches.


Dana Webb Hernendez, 34, received counseling, transportation assistance
and other support from the Helping Hands program at St. Joseph Catholic
Church in Cottleville. Webb-Hernendez, who has three children is in her
third year of college. She is working on a degree in social work and is
an intern at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Center.


"Not only did these people help me but they treated me with great
dignity," she said.


Ted Sitek, director of Helping Hands, stressed that the program
concentrates on parishioners who need help with home care,
transportation and are homebound.


"Our homeless efforts are handled though our St. Vincent de Paul
Society as  it is in many Catholic churches - because helping the
homeless is mainly a  community outreach effort," he said. "It is an
overwhelming job. Often these  people literally have no shoes on the
feet or clothes on their backs, and I  take my hat off to those
church-sponsored centers that respond to that need."


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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