By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Coffee is the great equalizer, according to Humility of Mary Shelter administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator Jesse Mohr. “Everybody here drinks it,” he said.
Brewing a vat of coffee is one of the first things that happens when the shelter opens in the morning. Sometimes an employee will make it; other times a shelter participant will take the initiative to fill the machine.
Especially for people experiencing homelessness, a cup of coffee can be a big help, he said. It offers energy when a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. It can help suppress the appetite of someone who has missed a meal. “Everybody deserves a cup of coffee, no matter where they are in life. Especially when the weather gets cold; people rely on it,” Mohr said.
“It keeps us warm,” said Rita, who has been staying at the shelter for about a month and a half. She said she knows a lot of people who do not stay at the shelter but come into the public day room for a cup of coffee to warm their hands.
The shelter can easily go through two or more canisters a day during the winter months, said shelter manager Jasmin Campbell. The supply is replenished through donations. Often, persons experiencing homelessness do not have the warm clothing they need to keep the chill out, so the free coffee is an inexpensive way to offer a bit of relief.
Campbell said it is heartbreaking to see people come into the shelter with so many unmet needs. “We can’t do everything; we just have to do the best we can,” she lamented.
As cold weather approaches, the shelter will rely on coffee donations more than ever, as well as donations of winter clothing. The shelter cannot take in everyone who wants to stay overnight, but the day room is open from 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The public is also welcome to the shelter’s clothing room, open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m. In-demand items include gently used men’s and women’s coats, gloves, winter hats, boots, thick socks, hand warmers, long underwear, sleeping bags and large garbage bags. Campbell added that the shelter especially needs odd sizes (like 00 or 4x). Donors can drop off items, toiletries, coffee and basic clothing from about 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
Mohr says people tend to become more aware of the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness during times of extreme weather. “It’s easier to recognize the homeless. For example, when you see a guy walking by in a snowstorm carrying two garbage bags with everything he owns, he tends to stand out more,” Mohr said. “People become more cognizant that there are people in need in the community.”
Time and time again, the shelter has seen the generosity of the public, Campbell said. When the shelter ran out of coffee last month, a shout-out on Facebook resulted in the donation of 30-plus canisters of coffee. Some of the donors were local. Donors from southern Illinois and Germany sent coffee through the mail via the shelter’s Amazon wish list. “People don’t realize how integral they are to this process,” Campbell said. Mohr added, “The community helps us take care of the homeless. These people are part of our community.”
About the Humility of Mary Shelter
The Humility of Mary Shelter Inc., 1016 W. 5th St., Davenport, was founded by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in 2008. It provides emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing programs that offer opportunities for men and women experiencing homelessness to become more emotionally, physically and mentally stable. For more information call (563) 322-8065.