This year marks the sixth year St Mary’s parish has hosted Winter Relief, an interdenominational outreach to provide our homeless neighbors a warm bed, food and fellowship during the brutal winter cold.
I have been involved in this effort providing food support and have had the opportunity to talk to many of our guests personally and have collected some stories from other volunteers. Here are a few of our stories to help you understand the diversity of our guests.
I talked with a guest who had been evicted from his home, lost his job and found himself on the street. He gratefully found his way to Winter Relief and was using his time to secure another job, save some money and find a new place to live. He was smiling and hopeful, a pleasant young man who was ready to take back his life. While he was with us he began training on a new job, found storage for his personal effects and with help, paid the costs.
Another story told the tale of a young man who had a job as a stock clerk at Target. He told us about how he was working on his GED at the Lighthouse and hoped to move on to a community college and eventually get his degree in business. We were impressed with his ambition. At the end of the evening, we also went to pick him up when his shift ended. While we had to wait several minutes for him to come out of Target, it turned out that he was waiting for a friend so that we could offer the friend a ride home as well had a job and was working while in Winter Relief.
One volunteer shared a late night conversation with a guest “You’re up late, aren’t you”? Our guest said he was working on a poem about his addiction to heroin. He offered to let me read it. I cannot describe how it made me feel.
I was impressed at his clarity, his intense struggle, his yearning for healing and the honestly and
beauty of his words.
Through these select stories, I hope it is obvious how this effort touches and changes lives, both our guests and those who serve them. Neither of us will ever be the same.
St. Mary’s Parish, a Catholic congregation served by the Redemptorist Order, includes St. Mary’s Church and St. John Neumann Mission Church. St. Mary's Elementary and High School located in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, serve students in grades Kindergarten through 12. Anchored in faith, rooted in tradition, and committed to excellence, our programs build lifelong learners who are servant leaders.