Letter from the Executive Director: Shelter update

It was a difficult decision, but one that had to be made to provide full overnight shelter services to those who need us in the winter

Written by Executive Director Jesse Brunette

St. John's Ministries Executive Director Jesse Brunette provides an update on shelter services to begin the 2023-24 season.

This isn’t what I planned to write about in my first Letter from the Executive Director, however, I feel it is important to be transparent with our donors, volunteers, community partners, and neighbors.

I see the difficulties and challenges guests face when they come to St. John’s Ministries each and every day. The look of despair, heartbreak, addiction, hopelessness, and anger at their current situation and why it has to be them who are experiencing homelessness.

I love my role as Executive Director and difficult decisions come across my desk often, even if it has been less than a month. I knew of shelter staffing issues prior to leading St. John’s Ministries and have realized how difficult it really is after many conversations with our shelter manager.

St. John’s Ministries doesn’t take our position in the community lightly. We provide a life-saving service to those who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets cold and lonely in places not meant for human habitation during the winter months. However, our staffing situation has forced me to make a difficult decision.

St. John’s Ministries will begin the 2023-24 shelter season providing overnight shelter services to men and women in one building.

As an organization, we still have just over 25 percent of all shelter shifts unfilled. We are not immune to the staffing challenges other organizations and businesses are facing in our community.

This means the Women’s Shelter will be temporarily closed.

I want to reiterate that women will still receive shelter services, love, compassion, and resources to move forward in life. They’ll just have to return to 411 St. John St. to be sheltered, as St. John’s Ministries did for many years in the past.

My heart is broken for the women in the community who need shelter. Some face trauma and abuse in their lives that many of us will never experience. We are working diligently to recruit and train more seasonal staff members so we can eventually open the Women’s Shelter again. I don’t know when that will be, but know this issue is a top concern for me, the board of directors, and our entire staff. We are evaluating the situation weekly.

If you know of anyone who has the heart to serve and wants to help someone experiencing homelessness, please have them apply for support, security, or shift lead positions.

Thank you for your continued support and willingness to provide a hand-up to those experiencing homelessness. We are all in this fight together to end homelessness.

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