Good Samaritan House, Granite City

A unique homeless shelter and rehabilitative facility in Granite City has been doing great work for 18 years, and now needs our HELP if it is to keep its doors open.

The Good Samaritan House opened in 1998 with support of the local Ministerial Alliance, who recognized the need for a homeless shelter addressing the needs of single mothers and their children. Many shelters cannot house families together, and others provide only a brief stay, without offering the kind of help that can break the cycle of chronic & recurrent homelessness: job training and placement, budgeting help, and training in parenting and self-care.

Good Samaritan provides a maximum of 90 days of housing, during which the residents must meet with counsellors and social workers & demonstrate evidence that they are working toward goals that will enable them to maintain a stable housing situation when they leave. The shelter has capacity to house ten families at a time, providing kitchen and laundry facilities and shared bathrooms. Along with staff and volunteers at the shelter, the mothers work together to plan their meals, learning budgeting and nutrition, and establishing consistent schedules and stable routines for their children. Partnering with WorkForce of Granite City, Good Samaritan also provides job training and temp placement for residents, offering them a first step on the road to steady employment and financial independence.

Janice Donaldson, Executive Director at Good Samaritan, has witnessed many success stories, as mothers gain the skills and confidence that enable them to move toward a brighter future for their families.  “Everybody needs a cheerleader,” says Ms. Donaldson, and Good Samaritan is providing a conduit for our community to support a coordinated effort that is yielding great results!

WHY aren’t there more shelters in our area offering such a comprehensive approach to this complex problem? The simple answer is: MONEY, (or rather, the lack therof). Many government and private initiatives to address homelessness suffer from inadequate funding, and are therefore only able to provide a “band-aid” approach to homelessness, offering brief temporary shelter or one-time assistance with a rent or utilities bill. Such “solutions” are well-intended but may paradoxically serve to perpetuate poverty and housing insecurity. Good Samaritan has pursued a goal of lifting families out or the cycle of poverty and homelessness, which requires commitment, coordination, and yes, MONEY.

But now this wonderful, visionary ministry needs OUR help! Good Samaritan began with private funding from area churches. Over the years several churches and civic organizations have provided labor and in-kind donations, as well as funding, to maintain the shelter’s physical facility and programming.  To maintain a stable income for its operating budget, the shelter has also obtained grant money from HUD, IL Dept. of Human Services, and other sources. Now, with the recent IL budget crisis, and the unexpected loss of a large HUD grant(which accounted for 40% of the shelter’s operating expenses), the continued existence of the Good Samaritan house is at risk. The shelter recently launched a “Save the Samaritan” fund drive, with a goal of raising $100,000 by the end of August, in order to keep its doors open while investigating ways to cut expenses and establish new sources of revenue.

 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  • Visit goodsamaritanhouse.org to learn more about the great work being done, and the help that is still needed.
  • Pray for homeless families, and seek God’s guidance in how He wants you to get involved.
  • Talk to others at your church or community organization about whether you can commit to funding the ongoing operations of Good Samaritan House.
  • Join us for a fundraiser at Restore Décor on July 30, when our net proceeds will be donated to Good Samaritan House. TOGETHER WE CAN KEEP THIS GREAT WORK GOING, helping families to become part of a thriving, loving community.

Matthew 25:40 Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Joe Russo honored with Micah Award

With what shall I come before the Lord

and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?  

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.     

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.  —Micah 6:6-8

 

Joe Russo, the founder of Faith Coalition, was recently honored with the Micah Award, an annual designation by the United Congregations of the Metro East, for a local citizen who embodies the commandment of Micah Chapter 6.

UCM is an interfaith organization of 35 congregations in the Metro East, which seeks to address issues of social justice. The annual Micah Award recognizes an individual who works tirelessly for social justice, shows respect and compassion for the needs of others, and sets an example of humility in living out his faith.

Since Joe first envisioned the Faith Coalition in 2011, he has worked steadfastly at our main project, rehabilitating a house at 922 Grand Ave in Edwardsville, which will be sold to benefit our local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Under his direction, many congregations and civic groups have volunteered their time and have been impressed with the progress that has been achieved through our combined efforts. As we near the end of those efforts, we know that the house itself is a great accomplishment, but Joe’s example of perseverance and single-mindedness has inspired many, many others to seek out ways that they can address issues of poverty and social justice in our community.

Joe’s vision for Faith Coalition “uniting area churches” has been a guiding light to everyone involved in this organization. Beginning with his idea of organizing local congregations to prepare for natural disasters, we have added to our number as more churches seek to combine and complement each other’s mission efforts. Our website is an outgrowth of that desire to unite the body of Christ, pooling our resources and our passions, and submitting our differences to our common calling.

Through all of this, Joe’s faith has been the driving force for his actions, and his actions have been an example that challenges and inspires all of us to strive to give our best to God. Just as an old piece of furniture can be reclaimed at Restore Decor to create a treasure, God’s transformative power can lead ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Joe’s willingness to follow that leading has blessed all of us in the Faith Coalition. During this season especially, we give thanks for his leadership, and we are delighted to see him recognized with the Micah Award.

(Submitted by the board of Faith  Coalition)

Dana Adams

Michelle Babb

Carole  Clevenger

Glynda Lavelle

Russ Reed

 

Annual Report 2014 and Activities

A Message from the President of Faith Coalition

To the many that have followed and supported Faith Coalition-Edwardsville with prayers, time, talent and treasure throughout 2014, I begin my message with Thank You. It is with a full and grateful heart that I reflect on the accomplishments we have made together in unity fulfilling our goal with disaster relief and local missions. Our most significant project is a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to remodel a home that was donated by Richard Rothermich located at 922 Grand Avenue in Edwardsville. When completed, the proceeds from the sale of this pilot project are expected to fund close to three new homes for Habitat for Humanity partner families. This is truly a house that together in unity love has built.

Our newest mission, Restore Decor, was started to provide a means of raising funds to complete the Grand Avenue house remodel and to support the mission work of Faith Coalition-Edwardsville. It has blossomed in 2014 in ways none of us could have dreamed possible. Our Vice President, Dana Adams, answered her calling along with so many other hands and feet in our community by coming together in unity to supply a store space, donated furniture and household items, repair supplies, paint, and countless volunteer hours rescuing, redesigning and selling one of a kind pieces. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all of the wonderful Restore Decor customers who shop with a purpose and keep our energy and enthusiasm high with their words of encouragement and pictures of purchases in their new homes. Restore Decor’s accomplishments this year is a great story to be detailed later in this report.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the many volunteers, from young students to retirees, who represent a broad cross section of this community united as one being Christ’s hands and feet in our local community and beyond as the Faith Coalition-Edwardsville in 2014. Thank you to all from those who have worked at the Grand Avenue house, Restore Decor, and building the playhouse, to the Blankets For Friends girls who have given warmth and comfort to sick children, the homeless, those starting a new life and those touched by a tragedy. I am confident and grateful our community will be in more loving hands as they grow and continue to share their time, treasure, and hearts in our local community and beyond.

Attached is a copy of the Faith Coalition 2014 Annual Report.

Thank you and Blessings in 2015,

Joe Russo

The Faith Coalition-Edwardsville is a Christian organization united in love and truth. Our mission is to be Christ’s hands and feet in our local community and beyond.

Free Lunch Friday

Who says there’s no free lunch? Immanuel United Methodist Church in Edwardsville would disagree. They prepare & serve lunch every Friday for whomever walks in the door. The program was started in 2004 by Floyd Fisher, who suggested offering a free meal once a week, as a service to the hungry, AND a forum for fellowship. Immanuel’s motto is “The Old Church with the New Attitude,” and the congregation was enthusiastic about stepping out in faith to engage the community in this way. Of course, recalls pastor Jackie Havis-Shear, “The big fat question was, Would we be able to afford it?”

They decided to give the program a six-month trial…and over ten years later, it’s still going strong, and has never been in the red.

Volunteers prepare and serve food from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday. At first, all the volunteers were members of Immanuel, but over the years many individuals and groups from other churches and civic organizations have pitched in, both serving and providing food donations.

St. Boniface Roman Catholic Church began providing workers for the program in June of 2014. They now serve on the 2nd and 5th Fridays of every month, taking charge of planning, purchasing and preparing the meals for their assigned weeks. Robin Black-Rubenstein, Pastoral Associate at St. Boniface Catholic Church, says it’s been easy to recruit volunteers from within her parish. “They’re very excited to be a part of this, very excited to do more things within the Edwardsville community.”

Sharon Koenig is the Immanuel member who now organizes Free Lunch Friday and schedules volunteers. They usually serve 50-100 people per week, and she notices several “regulars,” some of whom give free-will donations for their meals, including church members, groups coming for meetings, and some people who work downtown. “Why do people come here? We don’t always know.”

Black-Rubenstein notes, “It’s for ANYBODY. Whether they’re wanting companionship, or…whether it’s based on monetary need, whether they’re college students trying to stretch a budget…everybody’s welcome. People come from all over for all different reasons. No questions asked.”

Diane Johnson, a volunteer from St. Boniface, notes, “People that come in are very appreciative. People that come in alone, we try to have somebody sit with them. It’s good to see the older people that maybe don’t get out that often, get out & talk with others. We don’t know who’s in need financially. You see a lot of the same faces month after month.”

Free Lunch Friday is supported by donations from the GlenEd Pantry, HandiMart, A Little Taste of Heaven Bakery, the St. John’s United Methodist’s Mission Garden and other local gardeners.

To volunteer or for more information, contact the church office at 618-656-4648 or edw8iumc@sbcglobal.net.

Do you see a need in our community, and have an idea for how to address it? Leave a comment below, and together let’s look for constructive, effective approaches to help those in need.