Outreach Center Switches To Special Summer Programming
As the Holy Family St. Mary’s Outreach Center ends its first season of service, it is switching from daily assistance to special programming during the summer.
The center opened in December 2020 as cold temperatures set in and the pandemic continued to grip the country. Due to Covid-19, organizations that had previously offered day shelter to the community’s homeless could no longer do so because of restricted hours or access. Seeing this need, Holy Family Catholic Community opened the Holy Family St. Mary’s Outreach Center out of the former St. Mary Church Rectory on East Merrill Avenue.
Over the 782 hours the center was open this winter, Holy Family staff and a team of 23 volunteers worked with approximately 40 clients from The Salvation Army Warming Shelter. On average, they welcomed 11 clients per day, Monday through Friday. When the weather became dangerously cold, the center expanded its hours and opened on Sundays to ensure those in need had a place to go throughout the day.
The center was not only a place of shelter, but also a place of progress for many who entered its doors. Volunteers and employees helped clients to search for jobs, file taxes, go to appointments and interviews, and do what was needed to get through the day. With the assistance of local agencies, clients were able to find places to live and apply for government assistance.
“We are blessed to have had the group of volunteers we did working at the center. Our mission at the center was to help as many people as we could and offer them a warm, welcoming environment. Our volunteers were integral to this, and lived out this mission each day they came in,” Director of Human Concerns Erin Cobb said.
In addition to the help of volunteers, the center was supported by generous donations from Holy Family parishioners, as well as grants from community organizations.
The center closed for daily service at the end of April, but will continue to offer special programming throughout the summer. A portion of the space will also be used by English Language Learners. This fall, the center will reopen daily for clients.
“We look forward to continuing to utilizing the center to help our community in whatever ways we can,” Cobb said.