Relief and Fear (April 13-19, 2020)

Saint Cloud is a truly awesome place to live.  When   terror, misery and desperation, not to mention Covid-19 try to invade our town, an army of dedicated citizens stands ready to support and defend the most vulnerable amongst us. This week started with news that the city council might appropriate $24,000 per month from the CDBG-CV funds to help with our motel program for the unsheltered.  A host of supporters like you leapt to the challenge and encouraged our council members to approve the allocation., which they did unanimously. This immediately provided relief to 40 of our friends on the street.  Also, on Monday Bishop Kettler of the Saint Cloud Diocese approved the distribution of $5,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.  The place of Hope generously agreed to provide a hot evening meal every day of the week, this week they have made 256 dinners. The America’s Best Value Inn is providing them weekday lunches.  Neighbors to friends is providing breakfast and money for laundry and picked up milk for each of the rooms. 

Joy Christian has donated clothing, Bethlehem Lutheran has donated clothing, face masks, gift cards, water and care packs. St John’s Episcopal has agreed to serve as a mail drop for both those in the motel and on the street.  St. Cloud Unitarian Universalist Church contributed $200. We have had volunteers from United Methodist in Sartell, Bethlehem Lutheran, St. John’s Episcopal, and St Michaels Catholic Church, Joy Christian Center donated clothing and household items. Individuals contributed clothing, shoes, belts, household items and $1,305. One of our friends from Franciscan life, Anita Goth, has been sewing up some home-made masks to give to those living in motels. Thank you, everyone.

This week we have distributed 5 gas cards, 10 sleeping bags, 2 tents, 2 tarps, 20 bags of clothing, 2 care packs, $240 in gift cards from Bethlehem Lutheran.  Provided 85 hot meals in conjunction with Central MN Catholic Worker, Neighbors to Friends and Catholic Charities, at Lake George

There are many more people pouring onto the street as a result of the virus getting closer. We were confused as to why this was happening since we have already put 46 people into motels, and provided 256 motel stays this week, so we started asking where they were coming from?  The reply we have been getting is that many were staying at a friend’s house but were asked to leave because the friend thought it was too dangerous to house a homeless person in their home during the pandemic.   These people are not used to sleeping on the street and are cold, tired scared, dirty, hungry and desperate. The police have encountered people in the stairwells of both public and private parking ramps with employees and customers having to step over sleeping individuals in order to pass.  HHH has entered an arrangement between the Saint Cloud police and one of our motels that will enable the police to offer a motel room to those they find sleeping in these ramps. 

We are receiving dozens of calls daily from people on borrowed phones begging for a room and breaking down in tears after we tell them our funding is used up.  We currently have 73 pre-screened eligible persons on our waiting list. We have entered an arrangement with a fourth motel for 30 additional rooms, so we have the rooms. we just need the funding. It costs us $600 per person per month or $20 per day to put someone into a motel. If you know of anyone with $20 to donate give them our address. We also need volunteers to pick up the meals from Place of Hope and deliver them to the motel room doors. Pickup is at 4:30 it takes two people and a truck, van, or SUV and about 2 hours. Volunteers can pick any day of the week. We deliver all seven days. Call or text to choose the days that work for you.

We can also use pants, sweatpants and shorts, for men or women, card games, adult coloring books with pens, games, puzzles, and crossword books.

We love Saint Cloud.  God has blessed our town with all these wonderful folks, churches and organizations that care and minister to one another and a government that responds to the needs of even the most vulnerable of its citizens. We pray that He will protect you and guide you during these troubling times.

Do not be afraid He is always with you, Peace

Harry, Mary, and Troy