Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"It's your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you." -Rumi

How do you know when an organization is truly successful?  Is it the amount of people they help or the number of resources they provide? Or is it something that is based on the results, determined by long-term effectiveness?

The answer: yes.  For an organization to increase their positive impact, they have to balance all of these things, which is why organizations like the St. Patrick Center are so revolutionary in the plight against homelessness.

The St. Patrick Center is successful for two simple reasons: first, they have created a network of resources to aid their homeless clients in all aspects of their life; second, they require clients to work harder than they work.

Those who come to the St. Patrick Center have their most basic need meet first: housing.  As Rich Totsch--who works through St. Patrick Center's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) in rural counties such as Franklin--noted, having somewhere stable to sleep relieves stress and provides a foundation off of which clients can rebuild their lives.  Clients are asked where they want to live, and the St. Patrick Center looks for housing to rent in that area.  From there, clients sit down and assess their own needs to create a individualized "wrap-around" approach to their situation.  They are given connections to jobs, medical aid, rehab, mental health resources, and life skills.  St. Patrick Center has established programs like McMurphy's Cafe: an employment training program for those who are homeless to undergo training, class time, and employment in the food service industry, allowing them to take the first step towards holding a job of their own.

The most important thing that the St. Patrick Center creates, however, is independence.  While the Center can repair cars, rent homes, and build resources, it is up to clients to utilize them.  When homeless individuals comes to St. Patrick Center, they begin a journey of self-reflection and strengthening.  This journey begins at the origin of their homelessness: their individual cause.  The first step they take is to reflect on what contributed to their homelessness in the first place, and then to determine what they need to do to avoid relapsing from the same cause.  They determine their dreams and goals, and map out a step-by-step plan to reach the end they want to achieve.  With guidance from the St. Patrick Center, they take the first steps down this road, until they are stable enough to walk it without assistance.

And that is where the beauty of the organization is seen: in those that continue to follow their goals into the future.  94% of those who receive aid from the St. Patrick Center reach full recovery from their homelessness.  They are able to keep jobs, pay for rent, and secure savings, health care, and transportation.  To be effective and successful in Rich Totsch's line of work,"You can't just treat and let go.  You have to give support and a plan [for the future]."

Most of the work done by the St. Patrick Center is in St. Louis, where clients have a wide array of resources at their disposal.  In more rural areas, such as our own, it is much more difficult to hold a job if you have no transportation; there are less housing options available; and the amount and type of resources in the vicinity are much more limited.  Even so, the St. Patrick Center extends their reach as far as possible to rural counties, reaching out to St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, Jefferson, Franklin, St. Francois, and Washington Counties.  It is up to us now to increase the availability of the resources we have, and create those that we don't.

As you can see by their logo, faith is a huge drive behind the work the St. Patrick Center does, and God's hand can be seen in the massive positive effect that they have.  The St. Patrick Center is revolutionizing the fight against homelessness in a simple way: extending to clients a hand-up, not a hand-out.

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