Like most grassroots movements that have endured, Peter & Paul Community Services (PPCS) began when a group of concerned neighborhood volunteers responded to what had become a neighborhood issue.
In January of 1981, a local man who was homeless and known to the neighborhood was found frozen to death. The news of his passing inspired individuals from the community to reach out to others who were homeless and in need of help.
The community’s decision to become involved led to the opening of a “winter shelter” operated from the basement of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Soulard, where it continues today.
An ecumenical effort from the start, several faith communities formed partnerships to better organize, including the Catholic parishes of Saints Peter and Paul and St. Vincent de Paul, and Trinity Lutheran Church.
Soon it became apparent that more could be done.
Volunteers established a Meals Program to offer food and a sense of community to those living with low incomes in the neighborhood and beyond. Run by Saints Peter & Paul Church today, that program continues to feed over 30,000 meals each year, and is open to families, seniors, veterans, and those who are homeless.
In 1988, PPCS took its first steps beyond emergency shelter. The agency launched its first transitional program to help individuals take the necessary steps toward independence with case management to assist them.
In addition, the Community collabARTive was established and introduced art and art process on a weekly basis to empower participants to find their own voice. The community collabARTive continues to expand within the agency, St. Louis, and beyond.
As the 1980s continued, volunteers and shelter staff came face to face with the emerging AIDS crisis. Much was unknown about HIV/AIDS at the time, and confusion and stigma were the prevailing attitudes. Shelter, Transitional and Meals Program guests were dying from the disease.
Given this new challenge, PPCS responded by opening a residence for men and women who were HIV positive and called it Positive Directions. Today, the clinical staff at Positive Directions provide support for men and women living with HIV. Residents learn that their lives are far from over. Case management, life skills training, nursing, and substance abuse counseling help residents hope for the future and gain control of their illness.
In the mid-1990s, PPCS opened its Labre Center, a state-licensed Residential Care Facility, in the Shaw neighborhood. It is named for Benedict Joseph Labre, the patron saint of those who are homeless and mentally ill. The clinical staff at Labre Center serves 15 mentally ill men at a time, providing occupational therapy, nursing care, substance abuse counseling, and hope for an independent future.
Over 85% of residents in our clinical transitional housing programs have successfully made the transition to a life of self-sufficiency and independence.
In 2014, PPCS completed renovations to the Garfield School in Benton Park West. The school has been converted into 25 apartments for those who are chronically homeless. The Garfield Place Apartments provide permanent supportive housing for men and women who experience mental illness, live with substance abuse, and are accustomed to the isolation that comes from being homeless for years. Round-the-clock staffing and clinical services ensure that the many needs of this group of men and women are met, affording them the opportunity to become independent.
In summary, our emergency Soulard Shelter, two transitional housing facilities – Labre and Positive Directions, and our permanent supportive housing – Garfield Place Apartments – would not be possible without the direct assistance of our many wonderful volunteers, partners, and supporters.
Because of you, there is hope. Those we serve regain control of their lives. Hospitality and compassion are shown to those who are otherwise disregarded. Because of you, independence is becoming a reality in the lives of those we serve.