Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cool Thing of the Day: St. John's Shelter

St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown runs a five-apartment homeless shelter downtown. It is specifically for homeless families. Each family gets its own apartment for the duration of their stay at the shelter, and it is in every way just like having your own place.

I should know; our family stayed there when I was six years old. Over Christmas. At that time, the church only had three apartments, one of which was occupied by a caretaker (I think her name was Betty?), so it was our family and one in the apartment above us. The church was later able to buy the building next door, adding three new units and more than doubling the number of families they could help.

Now, I can't claim to remember the specifics of their program, but I understand from what my mother has said over the years that the people who run the shelter really do try hard to help out families. They provide parents with information, resources, and emotional support. We had to give up nearly everything back then, and we kids barely felt the loss.

That Christmas was amazing. Everything we got was donated by members of the church. And boy were they generous! We had TWO turkeys. We had our own Christmas tree in our living room. Sure, there wasn't a star or an angel as a tree topper, but there was a lovely golden peacock topper which became something of a family tradition. I received the stuffed dog toy that my heart was set on. But most importantly, we had a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs.

If you have a few dollars to spare, I suggest you donate them to this program. You absolutely won't regret it.

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