Avivo and Lincoln Center

There has been much in the news lately about Avivo, the new low barrier shelter proposed for Saint Cloud on the West End. The Homeless Helping Homeless board and staff support their effort to open a branch here in Saint Cloud that will provide fifty-six additional beds for people trapped on the streets. We need these beds. Lincoln Center has only twenty-three rooms and can house only twenty-five people. There are well over 100 to 150 low barrier people stuck living outside. There is a definite need for these rooms. Avivo stated in their presentation that they do not intend to take any residents out of existing shelters, including us. They have access to a larger pool of funding than we do, as they depend mostly on government programs. Those staying there should get excellent care. 

The need to continue a thriving Lincoln Center will become more important than ever after Avivo is completed. Although both of us serve a low-barrier population, we are not identical. Lincoln offers walk in off the street immediate care for those needing food, clothing, shelter, showers, mail service, wrap around services for health care, laundry, mental health, day jobs, and immediate drug crisis. At their Minneapolis location 131 of Avivo’s clients left the program and returned to the streets. Who will take care of those leaving the St. Cloud location? Who takes care of those now who can’t find shelter, especially in the winter? Thanks to all of you, it’s Lincoln Center. With your continued support we will be here. We will be providing services. We will be caring for those no one else wants. And connecting them without judgment to a care facility or treatment programs so desperately needed.

 Exciting things that have happened now that the Salvation Army has reopened. We were honored to have the lead psychiatrist from the VA Hospital training our staff in suicide prevention. The staff of Terabinth taught our staff how recognize and address sex trafficking. We had the privilege of having the vocational school from Alexandria send five students from their police training program to spend 16 hours each with our residents. Our volunteers have been amazing! This week students from Pierz stopped by with flowers for the ladies and gift bags for the men and shared and prayed with people, a volunteer from Richmond MN spent hours involving our residents by showing them how to lay tile. It was beautiful. Those staying at the shelter are really getting into it by producing ideas to make our community better. They offered to join with the Eastend businesses in working on their fall festival, by offering to clean up the garbage after the event. We now are planning a bingo night for the residents, to add to our poetry classes, Bible studies and yoga. One man has decided to use the old pallets we had lying around by carving them into beautiful chess pieces. Another resident composes hymns and performs them at area events. A woman in our shelter on chemotherapy is an expert calligrapher and makes beautiful wall plaques for the center. Others have been engaged in just cleaning up and assisting us with all the chores it takes to run the center from doing laundry, to mopping floors, to sorting clothing. They offer to do this spontaneously on their own. It’s amazing to watch how a person can grow in their concern for others and the community once they are relieved of the stresses of living day-to-day outside. 

Recently we entered into an agreement with ConnectAbility of MN to obtain motorized wheelchairs and have secured five wheelchairs for our residents, three of whom have only one leg. We have started a program to provide eyeglasses for free to people on the street with the help of Americas Best and hearing aids with an agreement with Miracle-Ear. We plan to have a community garden on the side of the building for people to get outside and do some serious growing. 

In all of this, we need your continued support. The city requirements for staffing put a huge burden on our budget. We still have a need for laundry soap, paper products, and underwear.  We need more funding to pay our winter bills and the costs incurred from taking care of those from the Salvation Army during our winter. Our grocery bill is getting quite large and any help you can send would be appreciated. Although our vendors have been very tolerant it’s only fair that we do not run up unpaid bills and so we’re asking for your help. You can visit Lincoln Center. You can socialize with our residents, get to hear their stories, get to feel their pains, get to be part of the solution. Thank you for your support.

Harry and Mary and all those at the Center dreaming of a better life. 

Make checks payable to Homeless Helping Homeless PO Box 475 St. Cloud, MN 56302 or donate cash or stock online at homelesshelpinghomeless.org