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Center for the Homeless Group Buy

Posted on 12/8/2009 8:40:36 AM
Author: Carl Obremski

Center for the Homeless Group Buy

I got a chance to visit the Center for the Homeless this week, and almost immediately it brought back memories of our sock drive last year, where you all contributed $1200 to purchase 700 pounds of socks. Our fundraiser created such a stir in the community that South Bend Tribune ran an article on us, WNDU-TV ran TWO separate features on the evening news program, and the CEO of Center for the Homeless Steve Camilleri personally thanked us.

When I asked a staff person if they needed any more socks this year, she took me down to the basement where they store all their clothing and toiletry items. There, she showed me that more than half of the socks we purchased still remained. Your contribution last year was truly a gift that keeps on giving!

She then took me to their toiletries room. Under the label "Bath Towels," it was EMPTY. "Washcloths": EMPTY. "Deodorant": EMPTY. "Feminine Care Products": EMPTY. "Laundry Detergent": EMPTY. The staffer told me that above all else, these are their most desperate needs, and no one has yet provided them for the long winter ahead.

During "Winter Amnesty" at the Center for the Homeless, which is going on right now, they burn through a lot of consumables due to allowing homeless persons to walk in off the street for a night's stay without the extensive registration required for their normal guests.

So just like last year, we'll hit the most critical needs right on the nose. So far, we have $200 raised, and that will go towards buying 200 hotel quality bath towels. Again, as with the socks, we can get huge savings if we pitch in and buy in bulk rather than individually going to a place like Wal-Mart and paying sales tax/retail markup. If we can raise $975 total, we can purchase enough to supply Center for the Homeless with all of the above needs for six months or more!

If you'd like to contribute this year, let me know by private message right away, and we'll get this thing rolling. Let your friends know about this great opportunity to bless some people who are less fortunate than us.


Here's the cost breakdown for those of you curious:
$250 - 200 bath towels (100 pounds)
$235 - 1200 washcloths (100 pounds)
$240 - 288 1.6oz sticks of deodorant
$150 - Enough Purex for 1500 laundry loads
$100 - 1000 Maxi Pads and 200 Tampons 
Anything over $975 will go towards more Laundry Detergent and Feminine Care Products (read less)

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week

Posted on 11/16/2009 7:50:38 PM

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week

Posted on 11/13/2009 4:47:37 PM
Author: Amanda Miller

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week starts on Monday! Held every year the week before Thanksgiving, NHHAW is a national endeavor to promote education, action and awareness about hunger and homelessness. We'll be holding a series of events for staff, guests and the community. Below is the schedule of next week's events-- if you'd like to come to any of these, please do! 

Monday 11/16: Offering of letters to elected officials during the Monday Night Meeting, emphasizing the importance of legislative support for the homeless and veterans. We'll also use this time to fill the guests in about NHHAW activities. I'll provide all the materials. This will take place in the community room at 6:00pm.

Tuesday 11/17:
 We'll host a Community Clean-Up from 3:30-4:30pm. Additionally, from 6:00-8:00pm in the community room, we'll have a viewing of The Soloist (for more information on The Soloist, check out 

Wednesday 11/18: 
At 7:00 p.m., we'll host a Candlelight Vigil in the children's courtyard, to recognize those members of the homeless community who have passed in the last year. This is a particularly touching evening.

Thursday 11/19: 
Day 1 of Dinner on the Mayflower will be from 12pm-7pm at the Save-a-Lot on 12th and Byrkit in Mishawaka. This is a donation drive hosted by U93, and last year it brought in quite a bit of food, winter clothing and personal care items! We'll also have a Young Professionals Against Poverty happy hour at Bar Louie following Dinner on the Mayflower. (Happy hour is the one event this week that guests are not invited to; however, all staff are invited to come spend some time with the YPAPs!)

Friday 11/20: Day 2 of Dinner on the Mayflower will be from 12pm-7pm at the Save-a-Lot on 12th and Byrkit in Mishawaka. We are still in need of some volunteer help for Dinner on the Mayflower to accept donations and pass out our critical needs list-- if you're interested in helping out, please let me know!

We'd love to see you at one (or more!) of these events! This is a great time to engage the community and celebrate our guests. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Touching Story

Posted on 10/26/2009 11:45:30 PM
Author: Erin Lunter

Today when I was briefly at the front desk, a young boy came in looking very concerned and on the verge of crying. He was about 10 and dressed in Notre Dame garb. I asked if he needed something and he asked if we knew where the Marriott Garden Hotel was. BJ and I both told him that it was downtown and quite a walk. I finally got out of the boy that he had been tailgating with his father and brother and was angry after an argument so he walked away. The boy got lost and eventually ended up at our door all the way from his tailgate on campus. We called his father's cellphone with no response but a few minutes later his father called to see who had called. His father asked us where we were located and how to get there to pick up his son. 

I interjected and offered to take his son to him considering the traffic of a home game weekend, the fact that they were from out of town, and the possibility that the father had been drinking. The boy waited patiently int he lobby and was approached by Eli Quiroz who offered him some kind words. A few minutes later we jumped in the car and I drove him to campus where we met up with the family. The father didn't seem very happy with his son of course, but wasn't angry either, mostly revlieved that he had finally found his boy. I said how glad I was that he had walked into our doors so that someone could make sure he found his family. I found out that the family was from New York and the father was an ND graduate. I was about to leave when the father got out his wallate. He pulled out what I thought was a $20 bill and asked me to "do something good with it". I looked down at what was actually a $100 bill and tears began to enter my eyes. I told him how thankfull I was and how he didn't need to do this at all, but that his money would be used to help the Center. When I, choked up, asked for his name he did not give one but the boy's name was Jack. I again thanked them and left. 

Although this was a very simple experience, I think we sometimes get so caught up in what we can do for ourselves and not what we can do for others. We are here to serve 'lost' individuals who may have nowhere else to go. Today I realized that we all are lost at times, and it is the random events such as the one I experienced today that make us realize how lucky we acctually are. Small acts of kindness can make monumental differences. I am also hoping that this experience showed this young boy and his father a different side of what they may have been taught of the homeless population.

Thank You

Posted on 10/26/2009 11:43:44 PM
Author: Andrew Wolfe

A wonderful donation came into the Center today.  A gentleman who did not want to fill a donor slip, nor did he appear to even want a thank you, dropped off a case of brand new caps and gloves.  The box still had the shipping order form in it with the cost of the items/total cost of order.  He must have order them specifically with us in mind.  So, when he received them he did not even open up the box.  He simply walked in and handed them over the counter and said, "Enjoy."

We handed out all 108 pairs of knit gloves and 108 knit skull caps tonight.  Talk about a timely, needed donation...!  The Guests were extremely appreciative and thankful for the blessing.   Not too often I can honestly say it was a very nice Monday, today.


Lt. Governer Becky Sillman visits the Center for the Homeless.

Posted on 9/24/2009 9:44:38 PM
Author: Center for the Homeless

 Lt. Governer Becky Skillman held a press conference at the Center to announce that we will be receiving an allocation of the HPRP (Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program) stimulus funds from the city and state.

In partnership with Madison Center, Youth Service Bureau, and Dismas House, the Center will be providing financial assistance and required case management/self-sufficiency services to qualifying households in five counties (St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, Kosciusko, and Fulton), including rental and utility arrears, and ongoing, progressive assistance, for up to 18 months of total assistance; HPRP does not provide mortgage assistance.

Households who receive HPRP assistance will have to participate in financial literacy training and case management proportionate with their level of self-sufficiency. Similar to our other transitional housing grants, households supported by HPRP will be those that we expect can be entirely self-sufficient once this assistance ends.

For more information contact Lani Vivirito

574 282 8700 ext 310


The Tribune's

Posted on 5/5/2009 12:11:05 PM
Author: South Bend Tribune

A step forward for Center


South Bend's Center for the Homeless has been so successful in tackling the complex challenges of the community's neediest members that it may indeed be the Miracle on South Michigan Street.

Rarely has a collaboration of charitable and social service providers been so extensive or run so well — and the center has national awards to prove it.

The organization has served more than 44,000 men, women and children since it opened its doors in 1988.

So it may have seemed like another cruel consequence of the recession a few weeks ago when the center announced that it would begin asking clients to pay a few dollars for room and board.

While it's true the new policy will ensure the center's precious resources are spread further, the change is a sensible one for any economy. It will help young women with babies, young men not yet navigating on their own and older adults down on their luck practice important lessons of responsibility, as well. 

Beginning April 1, the center began charging its guests up to $5 a day for food. On May 1, the center also established a $1-a-day "program fee" that includes housing to guests staying more than 45 days. Those who stay more than 180 days are asked to pay $3.33 a day.

Many center residents have some resources including government assistance set aside for the poor. Residents, for example, can turn in food stamps to cover their meals. But the center has pledged that no one will be turned away — those who can't afford the costs are being asked to earn their keep by doing chores at the center.

Jacqueline Kronk, the center's director of development and public relations, said the measure reinforces the center's mission to get its clients back on track and become accountable for their own welfare.

Not everyone is happy with the new policy, of course. But to us, it seems like a prudent and compassionate evolution of the center's work to break the cycle of homelessness. 

Volunteer Boom!

Posted on 5/5/2009 12:06:59 PM
Author: Kim Kilbride

Area nonprofits find more people are willing to lend a hand.

Tribune Staff Writer

The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is a charity that Wilma Frankland supported financially for years.

But when she retired from her nursing job about a year ago, Frankland, of South Bend, no longer had the cash to spare.

So instead, she spends a day or two a week volunteering in the organization's warehouse, sorting and labeling food and making new friends.

"It's wonderful here," she said via phone last Monday during a break from her work there. "We have a good time, laugh a lot ... and boost each other's morale."

Because her investments have taken a beating, Frankland said she's now looking for part-time work. 

Still, she has no plans to give up volunteering any time soon.

Richard Chapla, volunteer coordinator for the food bank, said these days the organization is averaging seven regular volunteers every day. A year ago, that number was closer to one.

Many of those people, he said, are between jobs, looking for something rewarding to do to fill their time until they find work.

The food bank is not alone.

Nonprofits, as well as agencies that serve as liaisons between volunteers and organizations they serve, from the Humane Society of St. Joseph County to the Center for the Homeless, report a significant uptick in the number of people coming forward in the past few months to volunteer. 

"We track Web hits," said Andrew Lynn, program director for Make a Difference Michiana, an Internet-based agency that hooks up potential volunteers with more than 300 area nonprofit agencies. "In November, December, January, that (the number of hits to the Web site) skyrocketed."

Lynn thinks the community's need for volunteers has been well publicized during this economicdownturn and is likely the driving force behind the new interest in volunteerism.

"People are inclined to respond when they see a need," he said.

Stepping up 

Last week in South Bend, 20 Court Appointed Special Advocates for children were sworn in.

That's double the number that usually commit to the 30-plus hours of training, background checks, drug testing and 18 months of service to become a CASA volunteer here.

Brenda Matuszkiewicz, executive director of CASA of St. Joseph County, said having so many volunteers come forward is a great thing for the organization and the children it serves.

Vicki Riel of South Bend is one of those new volunteers.

She's served the community in a number of volunteer capacities, she said, but this position is different. 

"It's one thing to stuff envelopes," she said, "but I felt this was really a labor of love."

She decided to become a CASA volunteer after hearing about the need via an ad campaign.

"In other volunteer opportunities, you don't get to know the people (you're serving)," she said. "You brush their lives for a few minutes or an hour. ... With this, you get to know the terrible, confidential issues of a child and their family."

Meanwhile, Peter Lombardo, director of community involvement at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, said more people have been coming forward during the past few months there, too, to help out with everything from serving in the kitchen to assisting the kids who live there with homework.

"In fact," he said, "we had a volunteer orientation last week — April is not usually a month where many would come — but we had 18." Historically, he said, eight or 10 people have shown up for training sessions in April. 

Many of the center's new volunteers are parents who want their kids to recognize the needs in the community and lend a hand to help meet some of them.

Lombardo believes, too, that more people are taking President Barack Obama's call-to-service message to heart.

Sarah Hendrix, project coordinator for the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program of St. Joseph and Elkhart counties, said her organization has also noticed an increase in the number of people willing to volunteer.

"The biggest boom has been in the last few months," she said.

She estimates that interest in volunteering with the roughly 80 agencies the organization works with is up 50 percent to 70 percent. 

Hendrix sai

Dance for Change

Posted on 4/30/2009 12:12:43 PM
Author: Center for the Homeless

‘Dance for Change’ on the Gridiron

On Saturday, May 2, hundreds of junior high and high school students will convene on the gridiron of the College Football Hall of Fame and dance to live music, participate in sports clinics and learn the Evolution of Hip-Hop, all to raise awareness of teens and young adults living in poverty. Dance for Change is a collaborative effort between the Center for the Homeless and Five Star.

Some specifics:

What it isDance for Change

When: May 2, 2-7 p.m.

Where:  on the Gridiron of the College Football Hall of Fame, downtown South Bend

Why: This event is designed to raise the awareness of area teens to the effects of poverty and homelessness, in a relaxed, teen-appropriate setting. Guests will listen to first-hand accounts of at-risk and homeless teens, as well as those who have come through poverty. It is, secondarily, a fundraiser benefiting the Center for the Homeless and Five Star, a leadership development organization for area students, based in Elkhart.

What will happen: Below is an outline of the day, the performances and speakers. Please note that the times are approximate. For more detailed, day-of information, contact Amanda Miller at 282-8700, x 354.


2:00 – Welcome, Evolution of Hip-Hop exhibition

2:25 – The first band, Hyndra, performs

3:15 – Breakout Clinics: football, basketball, drumline, dance and Zumba                                                  

4:15 – Dance break, Evolution of Hip-Hop

4:30  – Guest of the Center for the Homeless shares personal journey

4:40 – All-group team building game

5:00 – The second band, Whiplash, performs

5:30 – The third band, Busted Creek, performs

5:55 – Dance break, Evolution of Hip-Hop

6:05 – Guest of Five Star shares personal journey

6:15  – Midwest Dance Alliance performs

6:30 – Guest of the Center for the Homeless shares personal journey

6:40 – Final break, Evolution of Hip-Hop

6:50 – Closing comments

Dancing With Our Stars Miracle Auction

Posted on 4/22/2009 11:04:05 PM
Author: WATCH LIVE!!

Watch Dancing With Our Stars on Friday, April 24 at 7:00pm!!

 Vote for your favorite dancer at!!

Thank you for your support!!