Hope for the Journey Home Shelter
Expansion Project Updates
Last year, as we approached the one year anniversary of Hope for the Journey Home, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of what was going well, what could be improved, and what our real needs for the shelter were. We came away from this process with many ideas that were implemented over the course of several months. One item that was more difficult to address, was more space for the families that stay with us. At the time, we had a common area of approximately 810 square feet that was used for dining, arts/crafts/games, and general living space. While this was serviceable for the times we were serving 3 or 4 families, it was simply too crowded for the times we were full (30 people stayed with us at one point). In May of this year, a proposal to renovate the garage was approved by the Parish Council.
Immediately after approval was granted, work began on finding partners for the effort. Home Depot and Anderson Windows were approached and generously agreed to support us. Concrete Science, Pearson Air, Best Buy, and Tim Schroeder Construction also provided significant cost savings on services and supplies. With agreements in place and permits approved, construction began in late May. However, even with the generosity of these companies, there was still a long way to go in funding the project.
Deacon Mick Humbert started the ball rolling with an announcement that he would coordinate a “Homer to Home” fundraiser, in which he would bike 3900 miles from Homer, Alaska. Various prizes were donated and, for $10, people were given the opportunity to guess the amount of time the journey would take. In addition to the funds raised, a great deal of publicity was generated by the ride, including a full page article in The Catholic Spirit. Congratulations to those submitting the four closest guesses: Donna N, Cheryl S, Elias G, and Michelle S!
First Christian Church – St. Paul followed with a classical music concert, featuring Luke Swanger (piano) and Zachary Peterson (violin). Just over 50 people were treated to an incredible evening of music by Franck, Brahms, and Sibelius, raising $850 for the expansion. Separately, a number of other cooperating churches also pitched in, with donations ranging from $500 - $3500.
Individual contributions from volunteers began coming in almost from day one, with most donors asking to remain anonymous, including an individual who provided $10,000 and wrote, “On my first volunteer session at Hope for the Journey Home, I was so moved by the work that is being done to help others out in a time of need…Blessings to you and the organization.”
The Handy Angels team from Guardian Angels jumped at the chance to participate and became a mainstay at the shelter – occasionally joining us for dinner. Meanwhile, volunteers assisted on several committees to determine the look and layout of the new space, including the types and number of furnishings.
We had hoped to open the new space to families on Sunday, July 27. However, this was delayed due to some minor cosmetic and one functional piece that had to be addressed. Finally, on Saturday, August 9, families were able to use the room for the first time. It immediately became a primary gathering space, due to its proximity to the backyard and wonderful natural lighting. Thank you to everyone who made this need become a reality!
Next week: Oct 5 - 11 (Overnights: Sun, Mon, Tues, Fri & Sat. Dinners: Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri & Sat)
Upcoming weeks: October 12 - 18 (Overnights: Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs & Sat. Dinners: Sun, Mon, Tues, Fri & Sat)
Current SUPPLY NEEDS: (Liquid Laundry Detergent, Twin size Memory Foam mattress)
A short video on who we are and what we do at the shelter is available HERE.
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Click here to read some background information on the establishment of the Hope for the Journey Home Shelter.
About Volunteering and Staffing the Shelter
This is a collaborative effort of churches in Washington and suburban Ramsey counties. Your help is needed to staff the shelter with volunteers. Generally, a church hosts the shelter for one week, although a larger church could consider two weeks. Small churches frequently combine to share a week. Individual volunteers are also needed. The staff works in shifts, with the first two volunteers arriving at 2:45 PM, when the earliest buses drop off children after school. After a snack and some play time, help with homework could ensue while later arriving help (5:00 PM) would serve dinner. The total number of guests each week varies, but is typically 15-30 plus volunteer staff. An overnight staff of two, same gender or a married couple, would arrive for the overnight shift (8:00 PM) and is responsible for serving a continental breakfast, setting all in order, and seeing the guests off to school or back to St. Andrews.
It takes 42-44 volunteers to staff a full week with no double shifts. A paid staff person is at the shelter for each shift change to provide an orientation and any training needed.
The shelter is not open during the day from 9 AM - 3 PM, except on Saturdays. Weekend transportation to the Metro Transit Center at SunRay Shopping Center (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) or the Maplewood Community Center (Sunday) is offered to the families. Monday through Thursday, the families are either at jobs or working toward their individual goals at St. Andrews.
There are over 30 churches involved in this project at the present time. We are looking to add some additional churches as the shelter is open every day of the year. While many games and craft materials are available at the shelter, volunteering churches may also choose to bring along (or request) supplies for specific activities.
Guardian Angels is working with churches of all faiths throughout the area to provide support and volunteers. If your congregation is interested in volunteering please contact Mike Fouts or (651) 503-3380.
All volunteers must complete a Background Check, you may print off forms here: (to print off, fill out, and bring in to church for processing)