This is the text to Director Carl Zawatski’s eulogy at Nate Gaston’s funeral Mass on Saturday, January 5, 2019.
So the other day, another staff member and I were having a heated discussion. Some misunderstanding person might even call it an argument. You have to learn a new language living in this environment. Anyway, the discussion goes like this… “I bust my ass for you!!” I says, “For me? You do it for yourself, not for me.” “Well, I do it for the shelter,” he responds and emphasizes, “YOUR SHELTER!!” “My shelter?” I incredulously exclaim.
Nate at the thrift store
On November 18, 2018, we posted a piece about SFS staff member Nate Gaston entitled “A Friend in Need.” With a heavy heart, we report that Nate passed away yesterday. He is with God.
A memorial Mass is scheduled for 10 AM on Saturday, January 5, 2018, at the Sacred Heart Church on 601 E. Fort Lowell. Lunch will follow in the Venutti Hall. All are welcome.
If you would like to make a donation in Nate’s Memory, please add the note “In Memory of Nate Gaston” as you complete the form.
Santa’s elves appeared in the guise of Mike Sarabia and his family, sister-in-law Lori Bentley, Brick and Marty Wall and Sue Allen who came to the shelter Sunday afternoon for a great brunch prepared by chef Dennis. After the table was cleared and the kitchen returned to proper order, the group convened to the ‘wrapping room’ for our annual wrapping party. The elves filled sixty bags, each with a blanket, hat, gloves, and socks. A second package contained assorted candies, cookies, toothbrush, toothpaste, rain poncho, comb, scarf, hand lotion, and other goodies. The Catholic Daughters of America from St. Mark’s Church contributed 60 bulging stockings packed to the brim. A wonderful group of women from St. Thomas the Apostle come every year bearing gifts and donations also.
Opening day of the St. Francis warming shelter is upon us, and we extend a hearty thank you for all the donations and to the volunteers who have stepped up to help.
We will need more of each as we open our doors to our homeless brothers for the next 12 weeks or so. In the past, we have asked you to call Carl to donate items and to volunteer. Thankfully, you are wearing out his phone! Consequently, we’ve set up an email specific to volunteer opportunities, and we have created an in-house volunteer schedule so that we can better monitor our needs throughout the season.
If you have items you would like to donate from the list in this post and/or you would like to volunteer for one of the duties, please contact the St. Francis Shelter at:
We are putting everything in place as we prepare to open the St. Francis warming shelter in one week. While funding is still required, we know that not everyone is in the position to make a monetary donation. We frequently receive questions regarding volunteer opportunities and non-monetary donations at the shelter.
Guest speaker Father Tom Picton, CSSR presented this powerful talk at the St. Francis Shelter annual fundraising dinner on November 29, 2018. Father Tom is the Director of the Desert House of Prayer in Picture Rocks, Arizona.
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a talk by
Father Tom Picton, 11/29/2018
Metaphor is a window into the heart of human desire and longing. It reveals the human spirit as it fuses our deepest held beliefs with our lived experience. Community as metaphor expresses the truth of our longing for relationship, the best expression of our humanness. When we are as committed to listening to our Higher Power, the Divine, God or however you choose to name your Higher Power, as we are to listening to ourselves and to listening to others, we enter into an experience of human relationship called Community. Listening to God, self and other creates Community. This divine/human interaction is indeed a healing process. Truly, community is a healing metaphor for a fragmented world. It is not an option. It is an obligation for anyone who has committed himself to bring about a better world for humankind.
Last Thursday evening, the St. Francis Shelter hosted its annual fundraising dinner as it prepares to open the winter warming shelter on December 15, 2018.
Carl and Brick Wall
Nearly 100 people enjoyed the celebration that included an authentic Polish dinner prepared by Director Carl Zawatski and his staff. Carl makes special mention of and acknowledges Brick and Marty Wall – friends of St. Francis – who are bona fide saints in their own rights. The dinner would have been impossible to coordinate without their extraordinary attention to detail. The event raised $8,000, which will enable the warming shelter to open on schedule in less than two weeks.
Carl introduced the evening by thanking “new friends and old, benefactors and volunteers, big and small,” and was quick to affirm that the cement that holds the shelter together comes from a power much greater than all of us. “A person needs nourishment for his soul,” he said, “and it the world’s relationship with God and humanity’s prayers that keeps the Earth from spinning off its axis. Similarly, it is your prayers and our relationship with God that keep this shelter intact.”
It’s 5:30 am and my middle daughter Marissa is flying in from Philly. We are taking a road trip for the holidays. While I wait for her arrival, I’m compelled to write this and get these thoughts off my chest before I start packing for our trip…
Life is unpredictable, and it can turn on a dime. My recent battle with cancer has taught me that if you have been thinking about doing something, you better do it because you have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
A Personal Hero
I want to talk about a man who has become one of my heroes. Nathan Gaston – aka Nate – is a staff member here at the shelter. Nate came to us about five months ago after clearing his parole board. Throughout his life, Nate has spent quite a bit of time in the penitentiary. Prison life can do many things to a man, not all good, but that is not the point of this blog. I’ve come to realize that it’s not life’s circumstances that mold us, but how we respond to those circumstances.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the opening of the winter warming shelter. The opening event will occur Thursday evening, November 29, 6 PM at the Sacred Heart Church located at 601 E Ft. Lowell Road. Dinner will be served at 7 PM.
You can conveniently pay with our PayPal button. As you process your payment you will have the opportunity to note that your donation is intended as admission to the dinner event.
Not everyone has the wherewithal to make financial donations to our shelter despite their strong desire to do it. If cash is short but the heart is willing, there are other ways to help our homeless brothers and sisters…