Preparing dinner, enjoying a long, hot shower or a good night’s rest often bring thoughts of Fr. Bill’s & Mainspring.
This non-profit shelter in Brockton, MA is part of a network established 30 years ago by Fr. Bill McCarthy. It now includes two shelters (housing 225 guests per night), veteran’s and family homes, and a Work Express Program to enable guests to slowly enter the work force. These guests often include pregnant women, formerly hospitalized psychiatric patients, veterans, the elderly, and often the addicted.
It has been a humbling experience for me as I observe the long line of guests waiting for a hot meal and a place tosleep for the evening, many times offered only a mattress on the floor. They carry their meager belongings as they await the shelter triage process, often standing in the cold, snow or rain. Their backpacks and makeshift bags often carry wet and soiled clothing.
We attempt to maintain their dignity as we search them and their belongings to protect the integrity of the shelter. We try to personalize the experience by remembering their names and important aspects of their lives. We often offer a dry pair of socks or just wish them a comfortable evening. We listen as they share their dreams of life beyond the shelter.
We are the fortunate ones, as we try to fulfill what God expects of us through the service, reflections and comraderie of the IVC. The monthly group meetings, sharing of service experiences and the time with our Reflectors are invaluable sources of encouragement.
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.