The poet Robert Frost wrote, “Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.” Most of us know this confident feeling that we always have a place to go, or our children will have a place to call home. Nothing is as comfortable as home. Even when we travel, sooner or later we long to be home.
But what if you didn’t have a place to call home, or a house or a shelter? Where would you go to get out of the weather, to find a meal or have someone to talk to? In Indianapolis, there are hundreds of people without homes. Many have been chronically unhoused, while others have recently lost their homes to evictions or other uncontrollable life events.
If you don’t have a stable home, you don’t have a stable life. If your life isn’t stable, then your family isn’t stable—and the net result can be catastrophic. Families who move frequently (several times a year) never establish roots in a community, the children are never settled in a school, and life becomes a losing battle against disruption.
When King Louis XIII of France died in 1643, he left St. Vincent de Paul the equivalent of $1M to support Vincent’s charitable works. Vincent used the money to build 13 small houses for those without homes. In commemoration of this work, SVdP has started a “13 House Campaign” across the global Society to address homelessness. Nearby Louisville and Dayton SVdP Councils have fully engaged in this work.
In Indy, we address the homelessness situation through a few specific homeless ministries. (Read article on our homeless programs.) Nearly 2,000 individuals or families in our neighborhoods are experiencing homelessness according to the latest Point in Time count. We believe we can—and must—do more. Our vision is to integrate our Changing Lives Forever (CLF) program in a residential setting with 24/7 support with those experiencing homelessness. With nearly 400 CLF graduates, we have a strong foundation upon which to build. The residential setting will help solidify graduates’ efforts and success. We’re calling this new vision our “Love Your Neighbor” ministry. Efforts are already underway and fulfilling this vision will be a major step for our Council. We ask for your continued prayers and support as we move forward.