April Newsletter __________
Greetings Friends of Sanctuary Shelter,
We’ve reached the end of our 16th season providing the most basic needs to the homeless men in our area. It amazes me how when we finally arrive at our closing date how hard it can be to say good-bye to our residents. Most will not wander too far from the city so the chance of seeing them and continuing to offer some help is very likely. This season we were glad to see several men move into affordable housing and perhaps succeed in their efforts to get off the streets. These are among the most treasured victories we celebrate as shelter providers.
One of the tasks in our shelters’ administration includes tracking the number of client bed nights, monitoring the types of services received and calculating each individual’s level of vulnerability when living on the streets. Just to clarify, the term “bed night” translates to one client sleeping in one bed for one night. This winter Sanctuary provided 84 different men a total 4,032 bed nights averaging up to 25 men per night. That figure brought our shelter’s 16-year total to a remarkable 51,658 bed nights!
We could never have served that number of men if it were not for the grace of God, the sacrifice of dedicated volunteers, and the graciousness of our community partners. This season, our residents were blessed with dozens of meals provided by A New Beginnings soup kitchen operated by Jeanne Michon and Kelly Leclaire. The Slatersville Congregational Church continued to serve a monthly chicken dinner with the help of the Broaster House restaurant in addition to providing a mountain of breakfast bagels and each week.
Rene and Jeanne came by every Thursday with bread and groceries. Janice and her son Daniel, along with others in a local homeschool group, provided a meal nearly every Monday. Gerry, Joan, Allison and many of our shelter volunteers sacrificed to keep our men fed throughout the winter. That is one of the blessings that I get to experience because I’m here each day to see most of them. Still, there are many more that fly under the radar. Bags of donations that seem to appear when no one’s looking. Checks that come in the mail and people just dropping by to contribute to the shelter ministry. Every one of them, even the smallest gift, is a huge gesture of selfless love and genuine kindness. We are deeply grateful for this outpouring of love and support.
As I close this final newsletter, I’m preparing notes that will be used later this week in a meeting with a small group within the homeless community who choose to camp in the few remaining wooded sections in this city. Camping is not permitted in Woonsocket and most are aware of that prohibition. In light of that, you might think relocating to one of the Providence shelters would be a practical solution. However, most are fearful of doing so and some would experience disruption to healthcare and other social services making camping the better option. Local law enforcement and public safety services hope that this meeting will reduce the frequency of neighborhood complaints that almost always require interactions between the homeless and local authorities. During the off season, we will continue support and serve the poor and marginalized in our community with Christian love, Biblical guidance and encouragement where ever it is welcomed.