Life Re-Start After 50

How PPCS’s Positive Directions Transitional Housing Helped

We recently received a letter from a former client at Positive Directions. Before finding stability here, Pam was HIV-positive living on the streets in St. Louis. Below is an excerpt of her words to us.

Here at Positive Directions, things are moving at the speed of lightning, or so it seems. Things move at a much, much slower pace when you’re on the street. Here it is up, clean, eat, groups, therapies, cooking, shopping, washing, volunteering, appointments, treatment, résumés, medications, working, and if that isn’t enough, they squeeze in time for out-trips. My goodness! At first, I did not think that I was going to be able to work the program, but they did not let me spend time tripping about it. Do you know that the busier you are, the less time you spend thinking about what you cannot do?  So, I was off to the races with Positive Directions.

As I settled in for my transition time, I found myself enjoying the comforts of a home, the warmth of the bed, and the joy of a soak in the tub, all without having to worry about when any of it would be possible again. My first reality check was when I attempted to make a résumé. No jobs ever. Fifty-two years on earth and I have never had a job that was legal. Staff did not bat an eye. They just had me quickly switch gears from working to volunteering. A small smile returned to my face, but I still was suspicious as to who would allow me to volunteer at their facility.

I started volunteering at a small thrift store sorting clothes. Wow, what a job, I loved it! I was able to get some of the clothes for pennies. I am beginning to look good and feel good about myself.

I applied for housing subsidies and SSI, and I was still waiting for something to break in my favor when one of my daughters called. She said, “Momma, we are having a baby, and we need you to come live with us to help.” I wasn’t ready. Another two months passed when I got another call, “Momma, I need you, my pregnancy is now called high risk and I am bedridden, please come.” I left the program with the promise that I could return if needed.

I have been living with my daughter and son-in-law for about a year now. Things are going well, but I had to give my story. I am still volunteering. Positive Directions changed the course of my life by simply giving me a safe, clean, and warm place to stay. A friendly ear that listened, but most of all, a heart that cared. A place where a new life for me began and continues to thrive.

Oh yeah, it’s a boy! My new name, G-Ma!

Thanks Missouri MERS Goodwill

A huge thank you to MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries for supporting our unhoused neighbors with donated vouchers. This giveaway is above and beyond the already incredibly generous support and outreach that MERS Goodwill takes part in.

 

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2021/02/08/mers-goodwill-donating-75000-in-vouchers-to-unhoused?fbclid=IwAR2eATaHE99uoCWA2HUcRvs3jHstKf_ryGJ0tQpJhauCjsPAvc21u28Gv-s

July Update

TO OUR AMAZING FAMILY OF DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS:

We cannot thank you enough for your commitment to Peter & Paul Community Services. Your time and talents throughout the years have made us who we are, and for some of our programs, you have been the driving force that enables us to serve thousands of community members each year. We are grateful for the patience you’ve given us as we navigate through these uncertain times.

OUR PLAN MOVING FORWARD:

  • Our Meals Hall program is continuing to serve meals by utilizing partnerships with organizations that have commercial kitchens.
  • Our emergency men’s shelter will continue to be open 24/7. With that care comes the responsibility to provide 3 daily meals. We are graciously accepting donations of meals, either prepackaged or via local restaurants.

​>> At this time, in-person volunteering is still suspended. Should you be so inclined, here are some wonderful ways to safely serve our clients and patrons.

  • In-kind donations are being accepted, as long as the items are NEW and in UNOPENED packaging.
  • If you order ANYTHING on Amazon, link your account to us on Amazon Smile!

– Search Peter & Paul Community Services to benefit us.

  • Donate specifically to Meals/Shelter

Our cost varies depending on details, but here are some estimations…

– 1 meal for 1 person (meals/shelter) = $5

– 1 dinner for our entire Shelter, currently = $150

– 1 dinner for our entire Meals program, currently = $500

  • Become PPCS Facebook Ambassador: Add our custom frame to your profile picture
  1. Edit your profile photo
  2. Click “Add Frame”
  3. Search “Peter & Paul”

For details or questions on this plan, moving forward, please contact Kati Hoffman: kbhoffman@ppcsinc.org or (417) 693-7304 (text is best)

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING:

  • All staff are wearing masks during their shifts. PPCS has procured enough masks and face coverings for all clients and staff.
  • Our programs have implemented accountability procedures for clients who want to move into our programs during a limited window of time.
  • Our Soulard Shelter, which is typically open overnight, is now 24/7.
  • Temperatures of all our clients and staff are being checked at least once per day.
  • Our staff deep clean all facilities regularly. We are educating our clients on proper hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Residents at our housing and shelter programs are largely sheltering in place, with group outings being monitored closely to ensure adequate face mask usage and hand washing hygiene.
  • Educational groups led by clinical staff at all programs are socially distancing as much as possible.
  • Our Meals Program, which usually serves as many as 200 meals daily from the 2nd through the 21st of each month, has changed from congregate meals in the parish hall to distributing sack lunches by our staff, outside the building. We have also rented an outdoor hand washing station for clients to use.
  • With the shelter in place order, all-volunteer opportunities have been temporarily suspended.
  • Staff members are covering many extra hours every day, preparing additional meals, and doing all the other tasks usually done by our generous volunteers. In order to compensate the staff for their increased workload and dedication to our clients, we have instituted temporary incentive pay for essential front-line employees.

 

Thank you for your support of PPCS and our programs and services during this time.

June Update

TO OUR AMAZING FAMILY OF DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS:

We cannot thank you enough for your commitment to Peter & Paul Community Services. Your time and talents throughout the years have made us who we are, and for some of our programs, you have been the driving force that enables us to serve thousands of community members each year. We are grateful for the patience you’ve given us as we navigate through these uncertain times.

OUR PLAN MOVING FORWARD:

  • Our Meals Hall program is continuing our partnership with Butler’s Pantry to serve meals to our patrons in June.
  • Our emergency men’s shelter will continue to be open 24/7. With that care comes the responsibility to provide 3 daily meals. We are graciously accepting donations of meals, either prepackaged or via local restaurants.

​>> At this time, in-person volunteering is still suspended. Should you be so inclined, here are some wonderful ways to safely serve our clients and patrons.

  • In-kind donations are being accepted, as long as the items are NEW and in UNOPENED packaging.
  • If you order ANYTHING on Amazon, link your account to us on Amazon Smile!
    • Search Peter & Paul Community Services to benefit us.
  • Donate specifically to Meals/Shelter
    Our cost varies depending on details, but here are some estimations…

    • 1 meal for 1 person (meals/shelter) = $5
    • 1 dinner for our entire Shelter, currently = $150
    • 1 dinner for our entire Meals program, currently = $500
  • Write a thank-you note to one of our many amazing staff members! Download the Word file below, and print on your home printer!
  • Become PPCS Facebook Ambassador: Add our custom frame to your profile picture
    1. Edit your profile photo
    2. Click “Add Frame”
    3. Search “Peter & Paul”

For details or questions on this plan, moving forward, please contact Kati Hoffman: kbhoffman@ppcsinc.org or (417) 693-7304 (text is best)

 

We’ve been reminded over the past couple of months that an international pandemic tends to put a number of things in perspective: What are our priorities? What are our values? How can we make the best of each day with what we have? COVID19 helped to reinforce what we have always believed: Our clients are our priority. We value the health and safety of our staff and volunteers. We will leverage the experience and expertise of our PPCS staff to light our path.

As we began preparing for COVID19 in February, we put in place several protocols that are still in operation today, including strict sanitation and hand washing procedures for both clients and staff. Since then, as we’ve gotten more guidance from the CDC and Surgeon General, we have updated our COVID19-related policies, and extended the order for clients to shelter in place.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN DOING:

  • All staff are wearing masks during their shifts. PPCS has procured enough masks and face coverings for all clients and staff.
  • Our programs have implemented accountability procedures for clients who want to move into our programs during a limited window of time.
  • Our Soulard Shelter, which is typically open overnight, is now 24/7.
  • Temperatures of all our clients are being checked at least once per day.
  • Our staff deep clean all facilities regularly. We are educating our clients on proper hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Residents at our Soulard Shelter, Labre Center, and Positive Directions programs are sheltering in place.
  • At our Garfield Place Apartments, as much as possible, tenants are staying inside their apartments.
  • Educational groups led by clinical staff at all programs are socially distancing as much as possible.
  • Our Meals Program, which usually serves as many as 200 meals daily from the 2nd through the 21st of each month, has changed from congregate meals in the parish hall to distributing sack lunches by our staff, outside the building. We have also rented an outdoor hand washing station for clients to use.
  • With the shelter in place order, all-volunteer opportunities have been temporarily suspended.
  • Staff members are covering many extra hours every day, preparing additional meals, and doing all the other tasks usually done by our generous volunteers. In order to compensate the staff for their increased workload and dedication to our clients, we have instituted temporary incentive pay for essential front-line employees.

Thank you for your support of PPCS and our programs and services during this time.

COVID-19 Update from the CEO

Over the past few weeks, we have all experienced some fear and uncertainty. We are asking what the future will bring and how we can handle this current health crisis.

For many of us those questions have risen from the global concerns of COVID-19, but for the homeless neighbors we serve, these were already daily worries.

Amid the concerns of COVID-19, Peter & Paul Community Services is continuing to make the health and safety of our residents, staff, and community our top priority. Thankfully, so far none of our residents are showing symptoms. As we care for men and women that are homeless, we have instituted several proactive measures in adherence with the CDC and Department of Health guidelines.

WHAT WE’RE DOING:

  • Our Soulard Shelter, which is typically open overnight, has gone to 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Temperatures of all our clients are being checked daily and often 2-3 times a day.
  • We deep clean all of our facilities throughout the day and are educating our clients on proper hygiene and cleaning protocols.
  • Residents at our Soulard Shelter, Labre Center, and Positive Directions programs are sheltering in place.
  • At our Garfield Place Apartments, as much as possible, tenants are staying inside their apartments.
  • In order to achieve social distancing, our Meals Program which usually serves 160 – 200 meals from the 2nd through the 21st of each month, has changed from congregate meals in the parish hall to distributing sack lunches by our staff, outside the building. We have also rented an outdoor hand washing station for clients to use.
  • We are working with local commercial kitchens and chefs that are preparing and providing meals for our housing programs and sack lunches for our Meals Program. If your commercial kitchen wants to help, please contact Shane Taylor, our chief development officer, at shane.taylor@ppcsinc.org.
  • With the shelter in place order, we have temporarily suspended all volunteer opportunities and gift-in-kind donations.
  • Staff members are covering many extra hours every day, preparing additional meals and doing all the other tasks usually done by our generous volunteers. In order to compensate the staff for their increased workload and dedication to our clients, we have instituted temporary incentive pay for essential front-line employees.
  • Currently, we are short-staffed and contracting for additional staff through a temp agency. We are hiring part-time, full-time, and PRN Shelter monitors and Behavioral Support Technicians with wages up to $18 per hour. Our job openings are listed here: https://ppcsinc.org/about-us/employment/

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Since the men and women we serve are some of the most vulnerable to the spread of this potentially deadly virus, we need your help.

Due to the extra safety measures, we are currently facing $10,000 in additional weekly expenses. Now more than ever, we recognize that hope and the support of our community is truly the only way that we can “solve homelessness together.”

Your gift, no matter the amount, will help care for our clients’ needs, supply added meals, provide cleaning supplies, and cover all the extended staff hours.

Please consider giving to our neighbors without homes from the comfort of yours.

CLICK TO DONATE

Please continue to follow us on social media for future updates.

Thank you!

Steve Campbell,
Chief Executive Officer

‘Put the pieces back together’; St. Louis homeless clean the streets to get back on their feet

Like the memories of the party goers, the mess from the Blues game watch party in downtown St. Louis will be not be remembered.

Six men hit the streets of Soulard at 5 a.m. the morning after the celebrations. They call themselves the Soulard Clean Team.

And while they are picking up litter, leftovers and bringing full trash bags to the dumpsters, there men want to be doing this. To them, it is more than just a job.

Rob Leigh Majors, along with the five others he works with, is homeless. He and the others stay at the Peter and Paul Community Services Homeless Shelter.

Three mornings a week, each of the men make 20 dollars for two hours of work.

“I lost control of my finances and crashed and ended up pretty much destitute and started to pick myself up and put the pieces back together,” Majors said.

Andre Cole is the organizer of the clean team. He said since they started this August of last year he’s seen a lot of men turn their lives around.

Cole said he can pay his team and provide supplies thanks to the support of the businesses, churches and bars in Soulard pitching in.

“In the neighborhood, we get praises,” Cole said. “We were only doing two days and so they offered us more money to take on a third day and more support.”

The owner of Molly’s in Soulard donated a utility vehicle to the clean team, which helps them do their job more efficiently and cover more ground. The seats can also fit most of the clean team crew, the back holds enough room for all of the trash bags they pick up so they’re not putting the trash bags in their own personal cars.

They find a lot of different things on the streets, but George Morehouse said they have changed their ways.

“Few years ago, if I found a credit card, I would have tried to use it,” Morehouse said. “Doing wrong … you will always be down.”

And now they are changing themselves in the hopes of changing public perception.

“The stigma that we’re lazy, that we just don’t want to work,” Cole said. “I want people to look at me like a normal person and feel like when they see a homeless person, they’re not all bad people, we’re just trying to better ourselves.”

The people in these St. Louis emergency shelters might be some of the city’s strongest chess players

Xavier Jallow, a freshman at St. Louis University High School, sits in the chaotic warmth of Peter & Paul Community Services’ emergency shelter, ignoring shouts and clattering trays, eyes fixed on his opponent. Jallow and one of this evening’s residents, Jerrod “B.B.” Booth, are engaged in a silent fast-pitched battle. They reach to slide and capture, knights and bishops knocking heads as they’re swooped off the board. A small crowd gathers, drawn by the power of the men’s concentration.

Finally the game reaches a point of no return. “He’s in a bad position—bad position,” Booth explains, “and his queen can’t even help him.” Still, they play it out, the moves stretching apart as the men give each other room to think.

Ed Rataj, a retired law partner from Bryan Cave, watches fondly from the sidelines. Nicknamed “Chess Man,” he started this program, and he’s at Peter and Paul or Biddle Housing Opportunities Center four nights a week.

“You’re never sure who’s going to be there,” he says. “Sometimes I’ll go in, set up the boards…nobody. But by the time we leave, two or three guys are lined up to play next.”

Rataj (pronounced with the “j” silent) played chess as a kid but only got serious when he volunteered for city schools that wanted programs. Delighted, he boned up on strategy. Soon after, he was at Peter and Paul, dropping off a packet of bonds used to recruit Union soldiers in the Civil War (“I donate weird stuff to charity auctions”) and mentioned that he was on his way to teach a chess class. A staffer looked up: “Did you say chess?” They’d had some interest, especially from one guest. Maybe he could start a program?

“I thought I was going to be teaching people to play,” Rataj says, laughing. “I never beat Eduardo. Never once. He’d move his piece then get up and do a dance”—he demonstrates, feet kicking high and arms windmilling—“and the whole time, he was obliterating me on the chessboard.”

When Rataj tried to recruit more players from his parish, Immacolata, they protested, saying, “All I know is how the pieces move.” He nodded briskly: “Perfect. We’re trying to build up the homeless guys’ self-esteem and your humility.”

These days, better players are volunteering—because they find worthy opponents. Corey Reinig, an actuary for Anthem, joined the world-class St. Louis Chess Club but also plays regularly at the shelter. Samuel Roth, a grad student in business at Washington University, “was kind of interested to play at a less formal place. You get some really creative, aggressive players here.”

Rataj agrees, but he’s noticed that many “have terrible openings. I’ll say, ‘People have been working on this for 1,000 years. Here’s the London opening. Here’s the Colle Zukertort. Instead of you opening in a way that’s weak and gives me all sorts of advantages you’re going to have to overcome…’” He sighs. “Often they want to play it their way.”

Eddie Morris regrets that stubbornness—in life as well as chess: “When I was young, I made some very, very foolish moves.” We talk at the Biddle shelter one sharply cold evening; cots are being brought in to increase capacity, so we have to wait to set up the chess boards. Of grandfatherly age, Morris is wearing a Mizzou Tigers hoodie and carefully coughing into his elbow; there’s a hoarse rustle in his deep, calm voice. “I learned the fundamental moves when I was in the penitentiary,” he says. “The strategy you have to develop on your own, but my downfall is, I never read the chess book.”

That hasn’t stopped him from wiping the board with volunteers, though. Above high cheekbones, his eyes curve into a merry squint, like Santa’s. Chess, to him, is “a mind game. You can apply it to life situations, figure out what moves you’re gonna make. If a person gets angry with you, are you gonna come at them strong, push forward real fast, or hold back and speak to them in a calm and gentle manner?” He gropes for a word, pulls out his phone. “OK Google, what is the word when you rush into something without thinking about the consequences?” He peers at the screen. “Impulsive.”

Roth, whose life has been softer and more stable, wants chess to teach him to “stay aggressive, stay hungry. I’ll start losing more often when I’m starting to be defensive, and I have to remind myself to, when I’m threatened, punch back harder. Don’t go into a shell.” He starts a game, a black and a white piece concealed in his closed fists. His opponent chooses black, which gives Roth an instant advantage. White always opens.

A skinny guy approaches Rich Esswein (chess coach for SLUH) with his hands up in front of his chest, as though to ward off embarrassment: “It’s been a while since I played.” Esswein goes into teaching mode: “The pointy-headed guy is the bishop…” Slowly the guy relaxes into the game.

Relationships form here. Players aren’t swapping stories or asking about one another’s families, but “you get a sense of who your opponent is,” Rataj says. “He becomes a person to you.”

I ask Rataj for his most moving experience, expecting a poignant redemption story of some sort. “I beat Ken!” he exults. “He did not see the checkmate coming. I have lost so many games to Ken!”

Across a chessboard, people play as equals, and everything else drops away.