By Emmaline Jurgena
The Catholic Messenger
In April of last year the Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM) set a goal of raising $100,000 in new or increased donations to support the Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. (HMSI). The Sisters had promised to match the first $100,000. They did just that, and were delighted when donors contributed an additional $305,528 — bringing the total amount raised to $505,528. Gifts ranged from $5 to $50,000 given by 1,242 donors.
“We are thrilled and grateful for the wonderful response. It encourages our Sisters to keep this ministry going. With sustained generosity from many donors, HMSI can continue to make life better not only for those needing a home in the Quad Cities, but for all who live here,” Sister Johanna Rickl, CHM president, said.
HMSI, located in Davenport, provides temporary housing and services for men and wo-men experiencing homelessness or who are in need of emergency shelter. The shelter provides services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but relies on community support to remain open.
“Community support for the work we do at HMSI is incredibly important. At the simplest human level we provide for the most basic physical needs of people in our community who are homeless. We provide shelter, a warm bed or a safe place to sleep, a shower and a place to wash clothing, as well as a friendly face in what often is an unfriendly world when you’re homeless,” Julie Bockenstedt, executive director of HMSI, said in an email.
At present, HMSI employs a team of professional service coordinators and social workers who work with individuals in need, helping them to become “emotionally, mentally, and physically more stable,” she said. These employees help individuals at HMSI increase income, construct dependable support networks and locate permanent housing for individuals at HMSI. The funds raised through the challenge grant will help these services remain available, and will help the shelter remain open and accessible.
HMSI funds come primarily (61 percent) from government grants, with the remaining funds coming from donations (25 percent) and private grants (10 percent). CHM recognizes the uncertain nature of government and private grants, and hopes to increase donations in order to ensure financial stability. The Board of Directors of HMSI, looking toward the future, has placed a small amount of money into the Community Foundation in order to begin an HMSI endowment. CHM is seeking a development director or similar position to engage in fundraising and support of the endowment.
Bockenstedt emphasizes the importance of HMSI and services for individuals experiencing homelessness. “With great compassion, our staff help people experiencing homelessness appreciate that they have worth and dignity….We provide hope to the people we serve and hope to the community at large, knowing that people who are homeless have a safe place to go, and are on their way to returning to stable housing.”