News Off The Streets  June 26, 2018
 
          
                                                                           Seeking Help                 Finding Hope               Moving Forward
Award confirms
Sister Jeanne is
a Bridge to Light
 
Sister Jeanne Niehaus was the winner of a Bridge to Light award from Bridgehaven/Solutions.  She was cheered by a group of fellow staff members, lead by SJC executive director Maria Price, who were on hand to see her receive the award June 8 at a luncheon held at Audubon Country Club.
 
“How forward-thinking of Bridgehaven and Solutions to create an award for people in a profession that is too-often overlooked,” said Maria Price, St. John Center’s executive director.  “Sister Jeanne was in the midst of greatness at the Bridge to Light Awards ceremony.  Mental health providers from all over the commonwealth were nominated for their good work.  What an honor to work alongside someone as exemplary as Sister Jeanne.”
 
Sister Jeanne has graced St. John Center since 2000.  As a Benedictine sister (she celebrated her 50th year this month), Jeanne exemplifies what it means to serve others.
 
St. John Center's Jeanne Niehaus received the Bridge to Light Award on June 8 for her work in the field of behavioral health. Presenting the award was former University of Kentucky basketball star and NBA player Rex Chapman, who spoke about his own battle with opioid addiction.
 Working as the social services coordinator for the day shelter program, she tirelessly meets with as many men as she can - sometimes seeing up to 25 in a single day!  They come to her to check-in, ask for a bus ticket, and seek advice.
 
The men of St. John Center turn to Sister Jeanne for comfort, guidance, and a helping hand.  They know they can approach her without receiving any judgment.  Whether reporting a relapse, an eviction, or a depressive episode, Sister Jeanne listens with compassion.
 
Sister Jeanne understands the complexities of mental health and how they can impact a person's housing status.  While utilizing her Masters degree in counseling from Indiana University, she recognizes the need to care for the whole person, and she works to advocate on their behalf.
 
A true pioneer of "talk therapy," Sister Jeanne utilizes a strength-based, unconditional positive regard approach.  The world of homeless services is filled with uncertainties.  However, the men of St. John Center know they can count on Sister Jeanne to support and direct them.
 
“Sister Jeanne makes us all want to be better people,” said Maria.
Steve Hale was in his element while serving as the auctioneer at St. John Center's 2013 Raisin' the Rent fundraiser.
Farewell to
a great friend
 
The most amazing people at St. John Center are our volunteers and donors.  These are the folks that give of their time, talent and treasure to ensure that our mission continues.  The shelter has been fortunate to have many such supporters throughout its history.
 
But one of the most unforgettable was Steve Hale, a giant of a man with a heart, smile and personality to match.
 
Sadly, our friend passed away June 20 at the far too early age of 66.
 
He supported the Center in many ways but most often he was the man who came to the rescue whenever SJC was low on supplies.
 
“That is the way Steve wanted it.  He asked me to let him know anytime we were low on any of the supplies necessary to keep the shelter open and operating,” explained Keith Steer, director of special events and the man in charge of in-kind giving.  “So, I would call him with a list of things we needed and within 24 hours Steve would pull up in an SUV loaded with the items requested.  He did this time and time again.  His generosity knew no bounds.”
 
Recent health issues contributed to a bad fall, so Steve was recuperating at a local nursing facility.  A young aide asked him for advice on the best way to succeed in life.  Steve’s answer speaks volumes about the man.  “Do whatever you can to help as many people as possible, as often as possible, for as long as possible,” he said.
 
Steve lived by that mantra.  He spent untold hours helping others.  He sang in the church choir, and played guitar for the Spanish language service.  He taught Sunday school at the local nursing home for more than 30 years.  He was a scoutmaster that saw his four sons earn the coveted rank of Eagle.  He was instrumental in establishing the Fuller Center for Housing in his hometown of Springfield, Ky. and Louisville.
 
The father of six, grandfather to seven, and husband to wife Mary Ann for 44 years, Steve was a dedicated family man.  He and Mary Ann founded and ran a successful realty and auction company.  Steve served on numerous boards and committees and was his community’s best ambassador.   
 
A lifelong fan of learning, Steve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2012 and followed that with a Master’s Degree in Leadership in 2014, both from St. Catharine College.
 
Perhaps Steve’s greatest gift was his ability to make everyone he met feel important.  A visit with him always left you with a smile.  He brought out the best in people.  He was a blessing, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of guy.
 
Mission accomplished, Steve.  Rest in peace.
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
  • 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.
David is doing well at the Chestnut Street YMCA
David is still standing after taking on a
pair of goliaths
 
David knows success.
 
As a young man he was asked to be the manager of his high school football team.  David went on to coach high school football and girl’s basketball for several years in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
 
After earning an associate’s degree, David landed as a job broadcast engineer.  He worked for ESPN, CBS Sports and NBC Sports broadcasting a variety of high profile sporting events like NASCAR races, and the games of all the professional sports teams (Indians, Browns, Cavaliers) in Cleveland, Ohio.
 
David had a keen interest in politics.  He worked on successful election campaigns for local, state and national candidates, including that of former two-term U.S. president Bill Clinton.  As a result, David has dined at the White House on more than one occasion.
 
As accustomed to success as he was, David eventually came up against a foe far tougher than all the professional athletes he covered combined.  The specter of mental illness paid him a visit just as it did his mother and several other family members.
 
David was about 30 when he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.  Mental illness caused him to isolate himself from other people, ignore his personal hygiene, and drink.  The crazy schedule demanded by his job didn’t help.  David became lonely after 15 years of living out of a suitcase and traveling 250 days a year.
 
At 33, David began self-medicating with alcohol.  “It really didn’t help and just wound up making me a homeless alcoholic,” he said.  The combination of mental illness and alcoholism cost David his lucrative job and left him homeless for at least three years since 2000.
 
He’s doing better now.  David has learned to manage his illness and has been sober for nine years.  Even so, he sometimes has mood swings which cause him to get his days and nights reversed.  Now 51, David continues to see a therapist twice a month.
 
David’s first exposure to mental illness came at the tender age of four.  His mother held a master’s degree in education, but her intelligence was no match for the schizophrenia that took hold when she was in her 30s.
 
He recalls visiting his Mom at a state hospital in Ohio.  The illness kept David’s mother out of his life.  Therefore, David grew very close to his father who passed away in 2017.
 
Despite his challenges, David says, “I never lost God.  I chose to push Him away then tried to find Him in a bottle of scotch,” he recalled.  “Alcohol took 10 years of my life away.  It is by the grace of God that I’m still here.”
 
On the recommendation of other St. John Center clients, David initially came to the shelter to get coffee, catch up with friends, and check mail.
 
He believes St. John Center is an important resource for the homeless who are also battling mental illness.  “St. John Center is a depository where the mentally dysfunctional and developmentally handicapped wind up when they are discharged from institutions or hospitals and have no place else to go.  A lot more mentally ill people would be walking the streets all day if not for this Center,” said David.
 
One of the people David met at SJC was housing case manager Tom Parmenter, who convinced him to submit an application for a room at the YMCA.  With Tom shepherding the application David got a room in about a month.
 
“Living at the YMCA gives me the freedom to live life on my own terms.  I have my own room to sleep in and don’t have to be back at four PM,” he said.  “I share a kitchen and bathroom with the other guys that live here.  Being able to go out at night frees me up to do a lot more things.”
 
“David is such an active, interested, and interesting person.  He is very involved in advocating for those who experience mental illness.  He shares his thoughts about the needs of shelter clients and how St. John Center and/or other shelters can best meet these needs,” said Tom.  “He is a very capable individual with a good heart who cares about justice and what is right.  I appreciate that about him.”
 
David is working on his autobiography and doing some public speaking on mental health issues.  He would like a part-time job as a peer support specialist either in mental health or special education.
 
With David’s alcoholism under control, mental illness is the biggest daily challenge.  In a future article, we will look more closely at the reality of those battling mental illness and the challenges they face.
St. John Center's annual Men's Day Summer Picnic was held June 15 at Central Park. The event celebrates the success of the clients in the Center's Permanent Supportive Housing program.  Volunteer grillmaster John Schoenlaub provided chicken and cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs for the crowd who also dined on a tasty variety of side dishes provided by SJC housing case managers.  The men played several games and enjoyed spending time together.  Above, Jimmie competes in a game to see how many times he could bounce a ping pong ball off his palm.
Several St. John Center employees and their families were able to enjoy a night of Louisville Bats baseball on June 19 from the comfort of the Charah Inc. suite at Slugger Field.  Charah, a long time sponsor of Raisin' the Rent, has also provided the suite to give our staff some quality time away from work.  We love you Charah!
A unit of about 10 people represented St. John Center in the Kentuckiana Pride Parade held June 15 in downtown Louisville.  The event is part of a two-day celebration of support for the LGBTQ community.  Carrying the St. John Center banner above are, from left, Raymond Schafer - volunteer coordinator for the Center, Elizabeth, granddaughter of long time shelter volunteer Jack Lydon, who is walking beside her.

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

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