As the weather in St Paul turns ever colder, the number of tents appearing out side the Dorothy Day Center increases. For the first time in its 30 year history, the Center has begun to turn away those seeking a warm, safe place to spend the night because there is simply no more room. Inside nearly 300 of the lucky ones sleep shoulder to shoulder on mats upon the floor grateful for the opportunity. Tim Marx, CEO of Catholic Charities who operates the Center, calls it our “canary in the coal mine”, an early warning of pending disaster in our community.
But thanks to the volunteer efforts of men from St John Neumann Catholic Church in Eagan, the Knights of Malta and friends from through out the Twin Cities, there will be room for 50 more homeless men seeking shelter ever night through March. Each night 2 volunteers and a staff member from the Dorothy Day Center, open up the old Catholic Charities offices on Old 6th Street and admit those who otherwise would have been forced to spend the night in the cold. By 7:00am the next morning, everyone is up and on their way and the old building is once again quiet till it opens its doors to welcome those less fortunate in our midst once again the following evening.
Each evening nearly 7000 of those whom Christ loved the most, seek a warm safe place to sleep in our 7 county metro area. 50 beds hardly seems like a drop in the bucket, unless you’re one of those 50 guys. And maybe if more men like those from SJN and Malta and friends throughout the area join together, we can find more opportunities to help in the current crisis and to advocate for a real, long term solution soon. In the mean time,
- Consider investing 1 night with us. You may not sleep well but you will enable 50 other men, who have no bed of their own, to do so.
- Contact your State legislator and make certain that during any Special Session or during the upcoming 2012 regular session, the issue of hunger and homelessness in MN gets as much attention as a billion dollar stadium or a $750,000,000 bridge to Wisconsin.
- Pray. Pray that we as a society come together to meet everyone’s needs. Its not only what Christ told us to do, it is what we must do if our society is to survive.
Steve Hawkins, KM
Steve Hawkins is a member of St John Neumann Catholic Church in Eagan, MN and a member of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church which for more than 900 years has lived out its call to “Serve the poor and defend the faith”. He and his wife Judi reside in Burnsville, MN.