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 Carl 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…
Back in the Saddle
As some of you know, I was diagnosed with cancer in November 2017. My 10-month battle has affected my work at the shelter. Normally, when a donation comes in, I promptly send a thank you card. Because I have been lax in that important duty, I must begin this post by extending a huge thank you to all supporters and donors to the St. Francis Shelter. I have not overlooked you and am eternally grateful, though a bit ashamed that I have fallen behind on these important ‘thank you’ cards.
Guest post by E.S. Kraay
Author of The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas
Growing up in the Berkshire Hills in the 1950’s, I had direct experience with hobos and bums. Only a 200-yard field overgrown with weeds separated our house from the railroad tracks, and a small stand of thick woods, mostly pine trees and some maples sat directly west of our driveway. The railroad was the hobos’ primary mode of transportation, and the stand of trees gave the wayward some shelter from winter snow and summer rain while they listened for the next approaching train. We could look out our bathroom window and see the small fires they made. That’s when we knew hobos were spending the night in the woods. We didn’t fear them. My mother would prepare sandwiches, and my brother and I would take the sandwiches and a thermos of fresh, hot coffee to the hobos. As I kid, I remember that bums and hobos preferred black coffee. I believe their preferences have changed. There was no derogatory intent when we called them bums and hobos, and they acknowledged the ‘title’ as an apt description of the lifestyle they had chosen. No offense given… none taken.
Carl always reminds us to spare our judgments upon those whose choices have led them to homelessness. As I read pastor Mark Schloneger’s gut-wrenching article “Let Me Stand” in the Summer issue of Plough Magazine, I was reminded once more that few of us knows the events that drive people to do things we frown upon. Consider it mandatory reading.