Grantee submission by: Sandra Snyder, Director of Foundation Relations and Special Events

How did the funding or non-monetary support you received from the Foundation impact your organization and/or the community?

Moses Taylor Foundation’s funding made an extremely valuable, extremely visible impact at the St. Anthony’s Haven homeless shelter inside the St. James Manor Building in Scranton. The homeless clients who use this shelter now have considerably increased dignity due to upgraded and renovated shelter space, as well as restrooms and common areas. The St. James Manor building is now once again fully handicapped accessible. The building exterior will soon have a whole new look as well, which is a positive for the city of Scranton and the neighborhood surrounding the shelter.

Share a quote or anecdotal story from a client or employee of your organization that illustrates the impact of your work.

When Chris, 59, came to St. Anthony’s Haven homeless shelter, he was battling stage three lung cancer and had stopped treatment because he had nowhere to go afterward and was in need of a safer space in which to recover from the side effects of his treatments. We extended his stay at the shelter to just over two months, in which time our case management team was able to work with Chris’s medical provider to re-establish his treatment. We also were able set up transportation and worked with relief assistance to get him a hotel room for those times when his treatment was expected to make him particularly sick and he needed privacy and extra rest. Finally, we were able to work with another agency to get him into permanent housing, where he remains. We recently have been told he is in remission. We are choosing this story because sometimes success has to be achieved from rock bottom. A homeless shelter is certainly not a long-term solution to any major problem in life, but when we can get a client through the doors – as opposed to him or her choosing the streets, as many of the unhoused often will – we can begin the work necessary to achieve more successes one step at a time. An up-to-date, well-maintained facility, we believe, goes a long way in at least helping wary or reluctant clients to take that first step — to seek the aid of a shelter. Then we take it from there, slowly building more successes until an entirely new life narrative is written.

What do you most want the community to know about your work and/or what excites you most about the future of your organization?

When you have never experienced homelessness, it’s difficult to grasp the extent of the problem in your own community. We served 476 unique clients at St. Anthony’s Haven last year. That means 476 fewer people were living on the streets of Scranton or surrounding communities last year. The vast majority of those 476 clients are good people who simply have fallen on hard times. It has been our privilege to be able to assist them in some way and help turn their lives around. We think it remains all too easy for people to surmise how or why someone ended up homeless and suggest seemingly obvious solutions while overlooking how easily any average person might find themselves in the same situation. We also would like the community to know that Catholic Social Services operates several housing programs specifically for populations that otherwise would be overlooked in our area. These overlooked populations include those with mental health issues as well as those with a history of incarceration. Programs targeted to assist these types of individuals are uncommon, but the need is already great and continues to grow. We offer even the people society might fear most second chances in life by helping them to first find stable living environments, then accomplish personal goals.