Giving Thanks

smiling face of child
I have a confession to make – 15 years ago I could never have imagined we would be looking ahead to our 52nd RAIHN rotation! Some in our congregation have asked to know more detail about those we have served and how we contributed to their journey back to independent housing. I am here to share.

So many of you gave your time, your energy, your compassion, your continuing pledge money, your YOU to our families who lived here during Thanksgiving week.  And over these past several years, I remain so grateful for Lou Loggi’s partnership in leading Third’s homelessness mission, and to all our leaders, and everyone doing the “heavy lifting”.

Let me provide a bit of context first.

Front door and sign on new RAIHN location
The need for emergency shelter for families with children continues to be critical in Rochester. RAIHN moved to a new Day Center after 14 years next door on Meigs Street, where new facilities on Webster Avenue in the Beechwood neighborhood include multiple bathrooms, a large kitchen/dining/living room space, a computer room to seek housing and employment, a playroom, and 5 small rooms for each family’s belongings, plus growth potential with 4 apartments above the Day Center.  RAIHN’s eye is correctly on expansion of services. In January, there will be one transitional apartment available upstairs while a family waits to get their “keys”, thereby opening a spot for another family in crisis.

The RAIHN network has hosted over 30 families so far in 2017, including our 416th since opening our doors in April 2004.  Hundreds of families have been turned away over the years as there was no room at the inn―over 15 families each month.  Please know that over 90% of RAIHN families remain in permanent housing more than one year after leaving the program!

Here is what you did for families this Thanksgiving –

Our Third Pres, New Life, Temple Br’ith Kodesh team hosted 4 families and their kids from 5 pm each evening until they were picked up by the RAIHN van at 6 am the next morning. Yes, 6 am. You did an excellent job of preparing guest rooms, stocking food supplies, and cooking wonderful meals. Did I mention doing laundry, too? For Thanksgiving Day, we treated our guests to a hot breakfast, as well as a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and apple and pumpkin pies!

Despite the challenges of a busy holiday week, we managed to fill all of our hosting slots, with a number volunteering for multiple spots.  A shout-out to Amy who did 3 overnights, and Susan from TBK who did 2.  Huge.  Over 400 hours of volunteer effort.

Lastly, here is some detail I can share about our families.

We met lovely, hardworking folks who love their children and could not have been more grateful.  Their kids were so helpful and respectful and happy to play with us.  Wasn’t little Princeton something? We could not have been more blessed.

4 children with dog on kitchen floor
2 families got their apartment keys on 11/29 – moms Nadine and Leigha – and they moved this past week! Since most apartments they move to, do NOT have appliances, we still need one electric stove! Jasmine starts a new job on the 11th; her husband Ellis was already working. Leigha, too, was working full-time.  She said to say that she had such a nice and peaceful Thanksgiving Day with you.

And, it took only 1 email from me for you to donate an abundance of clothing items for the family whose clothing was stolen from a laundromat that had an attendant.  Some of you even went to Goodwill to purchase items or offered gift cards. After sharing with the other families, I took the rest to Asbury during THEIR coffee hour.  They had no cookies left, but their minister asked the sexton to open their clothing closet so all the extra bags of beautiful items would find a home!

When we said farewell to our new friends, the RAIHN van was headed to St Paul’s Episcopal.

So that’s what you did.

Thank you, everyone, for supporting this vitally important mission.  Every contribution, every volunteer effort, all the staff support, plus everyone’s flexibility in allowing the use of our terrific facility, is an essential part of our success in providing safe and compassionate care to families in a housing crisis.

I pray for room at the inn.
Laurie Mahoney
Minute for Mission December 10, 2017

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