2016 was a very busy year at the West Side Catholic Center. The final numbers are not in yet I know we continue to serve many meals, provide clothing, and shelter the homeless all in an effort to help our clients continue on their path to self-sufficiency. The work is difficult and we have many successes as well as challenges. Thank you for walking with the clients and staff of WSCC. We could not do our work without your support and prayers.
Our Giving Tree program provided new hats, gloves, underwear, socks, sweatshirts and full size toiletries to 481 adults and 955 children over two days before Christmas. While this is about the same number of adults served in 2015, 306 more children received a gift package is year. Again, this would not have been accomplished without our many donors and volunteers. My most sincere thanks to Anne Cleary who led the Giving Tree project this year!
Last Wednesday, December 21 the WSCC hosted the 30th Annual Homeless Memorial Day. This vigil is organized in Cuyahoga County by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Similar events are held throughout the U.S. to commemorate those who died in the past year. The Resource Center was packed as we welcomed homeless providers, friends and clients.
Brian Davis, ED of NEOCH welcomed all and shared the history of the event. We were all honored with the presence of Senator Sherrod Brown. The senator visited with many of the clients. He also offered inspiring words about the importance of the work done in the provider community.
Opening prayers were offered by: Rabbi Joshua Caruso from Fairmount Temple, Pastor Doug Horner from St. Paul’s Community Church and Andrew Genszler, President and CEO of Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry. We lit candles and Jennifer Kocan, NEOCH Board Treasurer read the names of the 103 homeless individuals who died in the past year. I was also able to say a few words about Sue Dinardo, Case Management Supervisor at WSCC who passed away suddenly on November 30th. Sue was an important and longtime member of the provider community and worked tirelessly to serve the homeless in Greater Cleveland.
The 103 names were almost twice as many as the 56 names read in 2015 and the highest in the 30 year history of the vigil. The following is a link to photos and a story in the December 22nd issue of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Thank you to Brian and NEOCH, Senator Brown and all who attended this vigil.
Speaking of success – Cleveland.com reported that between 2011 and 2016 homelessness in Cleveland decreased by 25%. See the article here for further explanation. There are many nuances to the numbers but this is still great news.
I can also report that we have raised over $1.8 million of our $2.0 million Campaign for the Future. The campaign will be completed in early 2017 and we anticipate work to begin later in the year.
I wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to a busy 2017!
WSCC Executive Director
Upcoming at the WSCC:
Wednesday, January 8 – 6pm. Board of Directors meeting and dinner. Location TBD.