Monday, November 30, 2009

St. Paul's Episcopal Church serves homeless in the southeast community

From Virginia-

A young man in his twenties with no place to go wept on the steps of St. Paul's Episcopal Church some years ago. A passer-by at the church, instead of asking him to move, asked him what was wrong, and to come inside.

This was the beginning of something special at St. Paul's.

"The young man had serious health issues and an addiction problem," said Isabel Steilberg, rector and director of Community Support Ministries at the church. "He worked hard on addressing those issues, and now he's married and an apprentice working for the New Jersey Transit System, when years ago he was ready to kill himself."

St. Paul's Episcopal Church has been serving the southeast community for 128 years. Due to the recent economic downturn, its services are in demand more than ever.

The church offers several programs for the homeless, or as Steilberg prefers to refer to them, their guests.

"The folks who come here are our guests who don't have a place to live. I don't speak of them in categories like homeless, because I don't call myself 'homed,' " Steilberg said.

Some of the programs offered at the church include a Safe Place/Day Center from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Day Center is run by Len Goss, who's been involved with the ministry for nine years.

The church used to offer the center five days a week, but has had to cut back during tough economic times.

"We're responding to the suffering caused by extreme poverty," said Steilberg. "The day center offers a place where people can come and sit, sleep, watch TV and eat breakfast, all without worrying about someone coming and telling them to move."

The services offered at the church are not only for the homeless, but also those who live in bad areas or are just down on their luck.

More here-,0,1222497.story

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