St. Joseph House (Catholic Social Services)
Please go to the bottom of this story to see a photo gallery and a video featuring St. Joseph House’s staff and guests.
Each year, donations to the annual Appeal meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families in our diocese. The largest beneficiary of funding through the Catholic Appeal is Catholic Social Services (CSS). CSS works with persons of all faiths and cultures in the Spirit of God’s universal love to advance human dignity and promote social justice, truth, and solidarity in our community. This year, due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for the programs and services offered by CSS is greater than it has ever been.
As part of its wide scope of services, CSS provides emergency housing and homeless shelters to those in their time of greatest need across the Diocese of Fall River. One of these shelters is St. Joseph House in Hyannis. St. Joseph House has 20 beds for female guests and 30 beds for male guests, as well as another 10 overflow beds. It offers a day program for men and women of all ages who are currently or formerly homeless, or at risk for homelessness. The day program serves as a safe space to gather without stigma for three meals a day, activities that foster connection and skill building, and the loving support of the caring and compassionate team at the shelter.
The need for resources, coupled with the demographics of Cape Cod, present unique challenges to the day-to-day operations at St. Joseph House. The onset of the coronavirus earlier this year compounded these needs. The area has seen an increase in homelessness, particularly among the elderly: a population that often has more significant medical issues, greater susceptibility to contracting the virus, and financial hardship surrounding the loss of a spouse, pension, or longtime home.
Since COVID-19 began, St. Joseph House has transitioned to a 24/7 “shelter in place” site, providing shelter to its guests around the clock. St. Joseph House has also provided COVID-19 testing for all guests, and has served as a safe place for them to stay healthy, as all guests have tested negative for the virus. Shauna Kane, the Day Program Coordinator at St. Joseph House, has served in her role for the past four years and is proud of the gathering spot she and her team have created.
“In this place, blessed four years ago by Bishop da Cunha, we gather differently now. We are masked, gloved and six feet apart when possible. However, we still teach and learn together. We still know everyone’s name. We still smile, laugh, cry, think and figure out solutions,” said Shauna. “I am honored to share this space with amazingly resilient individuals. They are an inspiration.”
Eddie Jeter is a former guest who has turned his life around thanks to the care and support he received at St. Joseph House. CSS helped him with the transition from St. Joseph House to his own apartment through the Office of Veterans Affairs, assisting him with all the necessary steps to get a fresh start. Eddie now dreams of becoming a homeowner. “If it wasn’t for St. Joseph’s House, I would probably still be living out of my car, or in different people’s houses. I would not have my place. They gave me a foundation. A stepping-stone and direction with which way to go, as far as housing goes,” Eddie said.
While staying at St. Joseph House, Eddie worked two jobs and was able to lay the foundation for a better future. “St. Joseph’s House and Catholic Social Services gave me the structure I needed to get a place of my own,” he said. “People should donate [to the Appeal] so people have the opportunity to find housing, to get a job, and build up self-esteem, self-discipline, guidance. If people have other issues, they can work on it through St. Joseph’s House.”
Your gift to the Catholic Appeal gives people like Eddie the greatest gift of all: supportive resources and a caring, committed network of those who help pave the way to new beginnings.
Shauna Kane, Day Program Coordinator and Stéphane Ruault, House Manager at St. Joseph House