News Off The Streets  April 26, 2018
 
          
                                                                           Seeking Help                 Finding Hope               Moving Forward
With new home and job, Willie
is optimistic
about his future
 
Now 53, Willie has been battling a variety of mental health issues most of his life.  He has been seeing a therapist since he was 12 years old.  “Medication helps a lot,” Willie explained.
 
It was about that time when he started cutting class and smoking marijuana.  His involvement with drugs escalated, eventually landing him in prison.
 
“I took drugs because I was depressed,” said Willie, who has been clean for 10 months.  “I want a better life.  I’ve seen what that looks like.  I don’t want to be on the streets anymore.”
 
Willie got his wish.  He has received a Section 8 housing voucher.  “Now it is just a question of finding a place I like.  It will be awesome having my own place,” he said.  “I would never have believed this could happen.”
Willie has a new job and will be moving into housing very soon.
The youngest of five children, Willie was raised by a single mother in the projects of Oakland CA.  “She was a great Mom considering the resources she had available to her.  I had everything I needed, I never wanted for anything,” he recalled.  “She was my best friend.  She was a nurturer.  I could always depend on her to be there when I needed her.”
 
After his mother’s death in 2016, Willie came to Kentucky because he has family here.  Turns out that was a good decision.
 
“There is more help for the homeless here than in California, but I stay mostly outside under bridges.  My pride keeps me away from shelters,” said Willie.  “The worst thing about being homeless is that you’re not in control of your life.  You are at the mercy of the elements and the street environment.”
 
SERVICES + PEOPLE = SUCCESS
“I am grateful for this Center.  I have had more good fortune since I’ve been coming here than any place I’ve ever been.  There are more opportunities for success.  The resources are here to help me get back on my feet,” said Willie.  “I like the staff too.  Keesha has motivated me to find work and Tom did an awesome job helping me find housing.  Even the volunteers are rooting for you to succeed.  This Center makes it happen.”
 
Willie would like to find a career, not just a job.  He has experience as a commercial driver, forklift operator, and journeyman plumber.
 
He currently works several hours a week as a dishwasher at a local hotel, but was just hired as a commercial truck driver.  Willie earned a GED in 2006.
 
The idea of having his own home has made Willie optimistic about the future.  “Having my own place means I will be able to sleep a little longer.  It will be a safe place where I can live in peace,” he said.  “I will be able to start enjoying life and become a more productive member of society.  The sky is the limit.”
Larry Otto, who died Jan. 26, was instrumental in the creation of St. John Center.
 
Farewell to
a good friend
 
Larry Otto was instrumental in the founding of the Coalition for the Homeless and St. John Center.  He supported the shelter in many ways including serving on the board of directors and as a volunteer.
 
He died at home on January 26 at the age of 88.  Larry is survived by Nancy, his wife of 66 years, daughters Laura Livingood, Anne Walker (SJC board member) and Nancy Otto; and son Fred.
 
In the early 1980s, Larry served on a task force on homelessness that recommended a day shelter be established for men who were not allowed to remain at overnight shelters all day.  That lead to the establishment of St. John Center in April 1986.
 
“Larry was a very gentle person who had a lot of compassion for the men.  He was determined to make sure things went smoothly for the men as they started coming to St. John Center,” said Sister Kathleen Sheehan, SCN, the shelter’s first executive director.
 
“Larry and the men had a mutual respect for each other.  He knew many of the men by name and several of them called him by his name,” said Alan Johnson, who volunteered with Larry at SJC for several years.  “Larry had a keen interest in the well-being of St. John’s clients.  He was a wonderful man and an excellent volunteer.”
 
Larry continued to support St. John Center following his death by asking that memorial gifts be sent to the shelter.  May he now rest in peace.
The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program sent Debbie Prince (left) and Brittany Sims (right) from the Louisville Asset Building Coalition, to St. John Center on March 16 and April 6 to assist our clients in preparing taxes.  They were joined by Robert Nicks of the IRS.  The crew filed seven returns which resulted in refunds of $5,500.
St. John Center celebrated its amazing volunteers with a delicious meal and live music on April 7.  The music was provided by a band called the Unspoken Kings.  Members include (from left) Tristaun Martin (keyboard), Jordan Williamson (drummer), Steven Pierce (bass guitar), Skylar Livingston (acoustic guitar), and Tori Thomas (vocals).  Danielle Martin also sings with the band but is not pictured.  Food was from Bristol Catering and volunteers were encouraged to bring a dessert.  Attendees voted for their favorite, and prizes were awarded to the male and female winners, Sue Vlazny (amaretto brownies) and Chris Preu (dead cake, from the fact it must be stabbed several times to help a liquid poured over it soak in).  God Bless our treasured volunteers.
Wish List
St. John Center is currently in need of the following items:
  • Coffee Creamer (powdered, no individual packets)
  • Sugar (no individual packets)
  • Ground Coffee
  • Artificial Sweetener packets
  • Coffee Stirs
  • Rain Ponchos
  • Disposable Razors
  • Multi-purpose Floor Cleaner (gallon size)
  • 55-gallon Drumliners
  • Tongue Depressors
  • Kleenex
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • Toilet Paper
  • Bathroom Deodorizer
  • Q-Tips
  • Copy Paper (8 ½ x 11, white)
  • First Class Postage Stamps
  • Yellow Highlighters
  • Post-It Notes
  • Gift Cards (Kroger, Costco, Walmart, Target, etc.)
Now there is an easier way to donate to St. John Center, just send a text message.  If you want to support our mission of getting men off the streets and into housing, simply text stjohncenter to 243725.
Andrea Redden, Samaritan Housing Case Manager
Andrea pursuing
passion to serve
homeless at SJC
 
Please welcome Andrea Redden, the newest member of Team St. John.
 
As the Samaritan Housing Case Manager she is responsible for finding and maintaining permanent supportive housing, providing life skills classes for clients, and assisting at the shelter.  Andrea is currently working with 18 clients.
 
Andrea comes to SJC from Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties Services) where she had been since 2015.  In 2017 she began working with the homeless as a member of the CABHI (Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals) team.
 
“I had been thinking of working with homeless individuals for quite a while and was thrilled at the opportunity to work with this population.  I soon discovered it was my passion and what I was meant to be doing.”
 
As a Case Manager at Centerstone, Andrea worked closely with the St John Center staff to find housing for several clients.  “The warm reception I received from St John Center staff and volunteers was above and beyond.  I could sense how much the staff truly cared for the guests and the environment here at St. John Center was one of compassion.  I knew I wanted to be part of such an awesome team.” 
 
A small town girl, Andrea was born and raised in Butler, KY where her family owned and operated a 50-acre farm. Cattle was the primary product, but at different times they raised sheep, rabbits, turkey, chickens, and pigs.  They also had a big garden from which they would freeze and can fruits and vegetables.
 
Andrea holds a degree in Psychology from Western Kentucky University and an associate in Nursing (RN) degree from Jefferson Community & Technical College.  She has 23 years’ experience in the psychiatric field.
 
Her son, a senior at the University of Kentucky, will be pursuing a PhD in computer science next fall; and her daughter, a senior at Atherton High School, plans to study physical therapy at JCTC.
 
When she is not at work, Andrea spends most of her time with family, but also enjoys reading, playing the piano, and traveling.  She also loves music and attends numerous concerts and live performances.
Richard Hudson serves a hot cup of coffee to a guest.  He and his wife Judy are regular Coffee Room volunteers.
Donors and volunteers
renovate SJC's Coffee Room
 
“Spending the morning with my friend Roselle, and serving coffee to the men, is the high point of my week,” said St. John Center volunteer Aggie Noonan during a recent shift in the Coffee Room.
 
Clients and visitors to St. John Center have no doubt noticed the transformation that has taken place in the Coffee Room.  The renovation is the result of the generosity of donors and volunteers.
 
RED, WHITE & BREW 
Our friends at Okolona VFW Post 8639 and its Auxiliary funded the lion’s share of the project. Long time SJC Coffee Room volunteer Marty Dunn also made a generous contribution.
 
Designers Deb Arnold of Barry Wooley Designs; and Darcy Maddox and Pam King from Repurposed, created the plan for the new kitchen.  Darcy also gave up a weekend to paint the room.
 
Barry Wooley Designs donated the tile flooring which was expertly laid by Patrick Noonan (father of SJC program director Mary Luke Noonan) and Kenny Buckler (husband of supportive housing manager Sarah Buckler).
 
The cabinets were installed by Greg Shade and Jimmy O'Toole.
 
Many thanks to Mees Tile & Marble for donating the sink and making the gorgeous granite countertop affordable for us.
 
EARTH FRIENDLY UPDATE
When the Coffee Room resumed service following a brief hiatus, it marked a change from disposable to reusable cups.  A dishwasher was needed to clean the cups and a grant from the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels provided it.
 
Based on the comments of other Coffee Room volunteers, the update is a success.  “Many of our guests have remarked about the new coffee room and how nice it looks,” said volunteer Jack Lydon.  “The changes made in the new space are working out much better than I anticipated.”
 
“The room is more spacious and the new cabinets make it more organized. The new cups seem to be working out well,” said volunteer Mark Zaccone.
 
An official dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, May 11.  Consider this your invitation to join us.
These eight gentlemen represent the largest class of St. John Center clients to graduate the Shelterworks Manufacturing Certification program.  The men attended training classes from March 30-April 12.  They are holding the certificates they earned in forklift, LEIN, Safety, and OSHA 10.  Five employers (JBS Swift & Co., Cardinal Aluminum, O'Neal Manufacturing Services, Brady Corporation, Anderson Wood Products) were on hand to interview the men at graduation and five of the eight have already been offered jobs that provide a living wage.  Congratulations to all!
Several St. John Center housing case managers attended a Housing First Partners conference recently in Denver, CO.  The group was able to swap ideas and learn more about best practices.  Above (from left), Sarah Buckler, Tiny Herron, T.J. Martin, Mary Luke Noonan, and Andrea Redden pose for a photo with a staff member from the the Mile High City's Saint Francis Center homeless shelter.  Also part of the SJC crew attending the conference, but not pictured, was Ashley Bradley.
 
Students from Presentation Academy visited the shelter last week to bring several of the large mats rolled up on the floor in front of them.  The girls wove the mats from the thin plastic bags used by retail stores today.  The bags often find their way into recycling bins or trash cans, but the Pres students found a way to put them to better use by crafting the mats which can be used to sleep on or under.  Also in the photo are (from left) St. John Center volunteer coordinator Raymond Schafer, client William, and Martin, a member of our security team.  Thank you for thinking of our clients who live outdoors.

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Address postal inquiries to:
St. John Center, Inc.
700 E. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
Louisville, KY 40202

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