Poverello House: spreading Christmas cheer to those who need it most

Chloe Swinney, Reporter

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With Christmas just around the corner, the spirit of giving is in the air. In this season of service and helping hands, many are looking for ways to reach out to those who need it most. Here in the Valley, the Poverello House, a non-profit soup kitchen, and its many local volunteers, provide for down and out citizens of the surrounding community through various meal and housing programs.

Though the Poverello House is recognized primarily as a soup kitchen, serving more than 1,600 meals daily, many additional programs from housing to rehabilitation plans, all aim toward helping people get back on their feet.

Across the street from the Poverello House dining hall lies Naomi’s House, a shelter for women. Through this program up to 24 unmarried, homeless women may find shelter for the night as well as help developing the necessary skills to care and provide for themselves. Daily classes and support groups teach women everything from basic life skills and health care to job application and self esteem.

Across from Naomi’s House, one may find the Village of Community and Hope, which can house up to 124 people per night. In the Village, the homeless are offered an opportunity to get off the streets and experience community living free of harmful substances and violence and eventually work towards permanent housing. Here, clients have access to daily meals, showers, laundry services, as well as programs to help them find a permanent home and source of income.

Also found on site is the Men’s Residential Rehabilitation Program. Under this program, men suffering from addictions and substance abuse are offered a home anywhere from a month to a year, given that they are willing to work towards leading a sober lifestyle and earning a steady income. Here men are offered the chance to live in a structured community with access to substance abuse education, counseling, and job referrals.

The Poverello House is able to do all this and more thanks to various grants, private donations, and the help of community volunteers. On average, the Poverello house sees up to 1200 volunteers each month. However, this number greatly increases during the holiday season.

“It is the giving season so more folks are in a ‘giving back’ mode,” said Poverello House’s Chief Executive Officer, Cruz Avila. “Folks are more open to seeing the reality of homelessness. When they come in to volunteer, perspectives change.”

Those who volunteer are able to see firsthand how many of the men, women, and children of the community struggle on a daily basis, and oftentimes, serving them only inspires people to do and give more.

Those who come out to help can do so by serving and preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen and dining hall, beautifying the site by weeding and gardening, participating in chores and activities at Naomi’s House, organizing supplies, and more. Even an hour or two of service can make such a major impact on the lives of those who cannot even provide a meal for themselves or their families.

For those who wish to get involved, a brief orientation is required as well as adult supervision for those under 18 years old. With all the rush of the Christmas season, the Poverello House asks that participants sign up in advance, and in groups no larger than six volunteers to allow for a schedule to be arranged.

At the Poverello House, there are always more bellies, more hands, and more hearts to fill. So, if you have never been to the Poverello House before, now is the perfect time to sign up, serve, and start making a difference in the community.

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Poverello House: spreading Christmas cheer to those who need it most