New Beginnings

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Fr. Bill’s 30 year mission to end homelessness now consists of two shelters, family and veteran’s homes, a Work Express Program with a commitment to sobriety and “on the job training”, and a Distribution Center.

A portion of my IVC service is spent at this Center. You would find all the necessities for the multiple scattered shelter sites here, including kitchen, bath, and bedding essentials. Another area of the Center is dedicated to guests who have been awarded an apartment, or guests in need of warm clothing, toiletries. They are always accompanied and supported by their social worker. Fr. Bill’s will have 380 housing units by the end of 2015 in an effort to provide critical housing and supportive services to the most vulnerable in our community.

The Center has a special wooden clothing rack (built by the Work Express team) for guests anticipating job interviews. We’re so pleased when we’re able to find the right sizes, the perfect tie to enhance their outfit. It gives them confidence to face a new experience with a goal of financial independence.

“Tammy” and her 3 year old daughter “Emily” arrived with her social worker last week. She had been counseled by the staff at the family shelter regarding budgeting, saving funds in an effort to become self sufficient, and had just been awarded a housing grant. She had also participated in parenting classes, and had worked diligently at a part time position.

She presented with a delightful, infectious smile. Our Distribution staff helped her to choose dishes, bedding, towels, warm clothing, and some toys for her daughter (held as a Christmas surprise). Fr. Bill’s also provides mattresses and simple furniture. She was very appreciative, and over the course of her visit, shared some moments of disappointment and despair in her life. She and her daughter had been homeless, frequently wandering the streets before being welcomed into Fr. Bill’s network. She was especially grateful to have been granted a safe place of her own, a space where she can reflect, rejuvenate and pray.

We all frequently take these simple gifts for granted, being able to furnish our homes as we wish, but most of all, being able to retreat to our special space after a long day.

With my best wishes for 2015,   Carol

Carol Armstrong is a second year Ignatian Volunteer in New England serving at the Fr. Bill’s & Mainspring shelter and at their Distribution Center in Brockton MA. She had spent 52 years as an Emergency nurse. She and her husband live in Duxbury, MA and are blessed with 4 daughters and 7 grandchildren.

7 Responses to “New Beginnings”

  1. Dave Hinchen

    Thanks for being there, Carol, and for offering us all a reality check on the blessings in our on lives.

  2. Mary Beth O'Sullivan

    Thanks for the reminder on how good it is to have “special place” at the end of the day. As the winds blow during this blizzard of 15 I’m so grateful for electricity and my space.

  3. Neal Smith

    Thank you for your note about Father Bill’s Place in Brockton. I was hoping to serve as an Ignition Volunteer this year and Judy was hoping to join me, but we ran into some expected “senior” health issues and had to drop out. We were also placed in a middle school in Providence which serves high potential economically disadvantaged students. Alsthough we have a small condo in Newport, getting to Providence every week proved to be too big a challenge.
    We both would like to offer our time to assist at Father Bill’s if that would be possible. How do we do that?
    May we here from you? Feel free to call us in Duxbury at 781-582-2368 or email us.

  4. Simon Smith, S.J.

    Today is the perfect day, Carol, for this reflection because so many are out there freezing to death in this blizzard. Thank you for your thoughts for us to pray about and for your service at Fr. Bill’s! Si Smith

  5. Mary Mahowald

    Carol – As with this reflection, I have really been encouraged by your sharing with us not only the challenge of your volunteer work but also by the sensitive and generous spirit with which you meet it.
    Thanks for being you!
    Mary Mahowald

  6. Kelli Armstrong

    Mom – How vividly we can picture the young mother and her little girl thanks to your words! I’ve been blessed to grow up in your home — always loving and warm — and can just imagine the warmth that you have provided the many people at Fr. Bill’s. May all be safe and warm, particularly today. Thank you for sharing this, and I’m so proud of the good work you do for others every day and the model of kindness you’ve given our family. Much love, Kelli

  7. Gini Parker

    Thanks, Carol.
    With the Blizzard of 2015 so foremost in the news this week, much attention is being paid to the plight of our cold and homeless New England neighbors. But no one should be left out in the cold at any time.
    Fr. Bill McCarthy dedicated his life to ending homelessness for good. Your dedicated IVC service works toward accomplishing this dream because of the overflowing goodness of your warming, sheltering heart.
    A Happy and Blessed New Year, from
    Gini, Your FBMS friend


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