Although spring is now arriving in Detroit, it was not long ago that Pope Francis Center's guests, many of whom are experiencing homelessness, were enduring below-freezing temperatures and brutal winter storms. As an organization that serves and advocates for the homeless, winter weather and cold temperatures causes us to fear for the safety of those who are unsheltered. During the bitterly cold weather this January, Pope Francis Center quickly exhausted our supply of gloves, hats, hand warmers, and toe warmers. After putting out a call on social media, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our supporters, as piles of donations arrived in just a few days! Every item was used to meet the most basic needs of those who come to us.
Pope Francis Center is still operating from our temporary location in Huntington Place, which provides us with ample space to maintain social distancing while still offering our guests respite from the cold. It is thanks to donors like you who make it possible for Pope Francis Center to continue providing our services while ensuring the safety of our guests, volunteers, and staff. From Huntington Place, we are still able to implement our full programming. This includes providing two nutritious meals per day and offering hygiene services including hot showers and laundry. Through case management and advocacy, we help our guests access community resources, such as permanent supportive housing, employment opportunities, and behavioral health. Additionally, we partner with community organizations to host a range of clinics providing essential services, including medical care and legal assistance. Thanks to the support of donors like you, Pope Francis Center achieved the following impact between January 1 and March 31, 2022:
- 19,700 meals served
- 890 showers provided
- 1,519 loads of laundry washed
- 299 hours of respite from the outdoors
Our Guest Services advocates help our guests access resources and programs to create stability in their lives. Over the past few months, many of our guests achieved their goals with our advocates’ assistance, including several that were able to move into apartments of their own.
Wayne is a longtime Pope Francis Center guest. Like many individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, Wayne lacks family connections to serve as a support system. "I might not have family around anymore, but I found a family here at the Center." After living outside in Hart Plaza for over a year, Wayne is no longer unhoused. He says he is really thankful to finally have a place to call home: "My new place makes me feel safe and comfortable and healthy."
Another success story we can share is Ken. Ken has been visiting Pope Francis Center since 2016. Ken needed help finding an apartment. Our Guest Services team advocated for Ken for months, helping him work through holes in the system to obtain the safety and security he deserves. In January, Ken received word that he was approved to move into a new apartment- he just needed to wait for the complex to finish renovations. While he waited, we ensured Ken had had a safe place to stay, and also connected him with Humble Design Detroit, who furnished Ken’s new apartment and made it feel more like home. In early March, Pope Francis Center’s team was there to help Ken move in. To see a friend go from homeless to housed is exactly why we do what we do—and it's only possible thanks to your support.