Thursday, August 26, 2010

Save the Date to Taste the Night Away...

Join LPCS at A Taste of Fall on Friday, October 22 from 7-11pm for a delectable evening, and taste your way through Fall!  Enjoy the best food and drink the season has to offer from local businesses. Enjoy the acoustic sounds of the Tony Bondi Project while taking in the unique atmosphere of Gallery 1028. Bid on unique silent auction items, and enter for your chance to win a fabulous raffle prize!

Go to for more information and to register.  A portion of your ticket is tax deductible. All proceeds benefit the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This is shelter life!

In today's changed and changing economy I meet people everyday who are looking for employment or working in a field that has nothing to do with their formal education, but everything to do with their passion for life.  In America, a lot of people are in the same boat.  Some seemingly are more blessed or have a  less rocky adventure to live.  When things happens in such a big nation as ours, and an individual has no real family at hand, or does not want to impose, the individual can, for the first time in their life, end up living in a shelter.  I knew of a sweet, elderly woman who had been swindled.  The swindler began a domino effect of debt.  This lady today is in a shelter in America.  I know of a man who was hit by an uninsured car.  The system treated his immediate and visible physical wounds and then left him to recover.  The man had retrograde amnesia.   This man today is in a shelter in America.  In this large country of ours, the outcome of the rocks on our road of life seem to be linked to the location of where we stumble.  

I am one such person that stumbled on a rock thrown on my road.   The rock caused a detour which has been bittersweet.  I have learned from the bitter, but focus on the sweet.  Thus the detour has led me to  the beauty of my former stomping grounds of Lincoln Park.  In Lincoln Park  you'll find the diversity of DePaul, a worldclass park, zoo, conservatory, quaint cafes, boutiques and charming shops.  And, if you walk down one treelined street with grand greystones you just might see me or my mates climbing down the stairs to the church basement where I currently live.  This scene goes on all across America.  For me,  I have been blessed with a great location.  And from this location have come great volunteers.  This is shelter life!
--Alicia, LPCS Guest

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Top 10 LPCS Moments

As our 25th year celebrations wind down, we asked several staff, volunteers, and board members to share their top 10 memories--good and bad--of LPCS.  Here is what current Executive Director Erin Ryan had to say...

Last September, I celebrated a decade at LPCS with a surprise party full of friends, co-workers past and present, and the LPCS Board. This started me reflecting on all I’ve learned and experienced in these 10 years. Boiled down, here are my Top 10 LPCS Moments:

1.      I remember my interview at LPCS in August 1999 for a volunteer coordinator position. It was my first job out of college, and I had just moved to Chicago. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into! When I asked why the position had been open for over a year, I was told, “This is a special place, and we need a special person to fill it.” When I was offered the position and started at LPCS, it became immediately apparent that this IS a special place, and I felt honored to have been welcomed into the LPCS family and determined to make it proud.

2.      One of the best parts of working at LPCS is being able to help someone move into their new apartment. One of the first people I helped move was LaVance. Over his 7 months at LPCS, we had established an easy rapport, and I learned a lot from him about recovery and how hard it is to start over in mid-life, reconciling years of disconnectedness from his family and addiction with this new leaf. As we loaded my car with his few possessions and drove to his new apartment – his first in over a decade – LaVance said, “I never thought that at the age of 50, my best friend would be a 23-year-old white woman.” I was so touched that he thought of me as a friend, and that he had learned as much from me as I had from him. This showed me that despite our differences, we all have something to offer each other, and LPCS had allowed that to happen. LaVance is still one of our greatest success stories, 9 years later!

3.      After two years at LPCS, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in social work to improve my skills and prepare me for other roles at the organization. In school, I took an internship with another agency that served women in recovery. The first day of my internship was Sept. 11, 2001. I was introduced immediately to my first client: a woman who was skeptical, at best, about my ability to understand her situation or help her. As we sat, though, watching the TV in awe at the events unfolding, she said, “for the first time, I feel really connected to something bigger than myself.” Joyce taught me the power of community. Those who are on the margins of society are often disconnected from community, and those of us with it usually take it for granted. I have ALWAYS felt a part of something bigger than myself, and I realized that I could help bring that sense of community to the guests at LPCS, and that would be more powerful than anything.

4.      Advances in technology - when I started, we had one computer and no email or website! We did all our volunteer scheduling via phone trees. Our main office was on the 2nd floor of the church, and the case management office was in the basement. Every time our social worker Evan got a phone call, we had to walk the cordless phone down 5-something steps! Things are so much more efficient now!

5.      Testifying during Zoning Board of Appeals hearings (to get a special use permit and start our renovation); I have never felt so nervous…the reputation and future of the organization was at stake. I felt very alone at the front of the room, being cross-examined about the need for LPCS programs and hoping desperately to make a case. But as I exited the city council chambers and saw over 400 people standing there in support of LPCS and our mission, my confidence was bolstered and I knew that we would win the permit.

6.      Laughing with staff about strange donations: from wedding dress crinoline to gas masks, we’ve seen it all! We’re so appreciative of all the in-kind support we receive, but some things that are not very practical for use by homeless people slip by from time to time!

7.      Waiting up at St. Pauls with Barb, Evan, or Amy for a notoriously late overnight volunteer. We didn’t need two people to stay, but some of our best conversations about the programs and guests happened in the St. Pauls kitchen at 10:30 pm!

8.      Trying desperately to avoid earning the “marshmallow award” – given to staff when we are “soft” on enforcing the rules, then growing into the realization that being compassionate and responsive to an individual’s needs is not necessarily being “soft,” and that sometimes, being “soft” is the best approach.

9.      Celebrating the open house of our newly renovated facility, then watching it flood two weeks later. In a torrential downpour, we had several inches of water all throughout the facility. However, we also had dozens of guests, staff, and personnel from Lincoln Park Presbyterian and St. Pauls down the street furiously mopping and vacuuming up water to save the floors and furniture. I’ve never seen so many people come together so quickly! One guest remarked, ”I didn’t know we were getting a swimming pool!”

10.  Sitting vigil with Mike, a graduate of LPCS who was in hospice at Lincoln Park Hospital. Mike was estranged from his family, and his LPCS family was all he had at the end. Fellow staff members Betsy, Anna, and I took turns sleeping on the couch and sitting with him, and volunteers and even guests who didn’t know Mike joined the rotation to keep him company until he passed away.

There are plenty of sad/confounding moments as well over the years. But these are the 10 I’ll choose to remember because of their lessons and inspiration. Thank you to everyone who has made the last 10 years fly by as I’ve grown and learned so much about the world and my place in it!
 --Erin Ryan, LPCS Executive Director

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10-10-10 World Homeless Day - COUNTDOWN – WEEK 9

We’re counting down, along with Portland Rescue Mission, 10 weeks to the launch of the first annual World Homeless Day on 10-10-10 (October 10, 2010).  Thanks for sharing these great resources PRM!

This week’s big idea: Learn About Homelessness

Statistics and stories shed light on the plight of homeless men, women and children.  Use these online resources to expand awareness and inspire action. 


  1. – End Homelessness

    Helpful blog covering issues of homelessness and related stories.

  2. – Homelessness

    Compilation of 40 top blogs related to homelessness.  Includes links to the five most recent posts on each blog.


    Short candid video interviews with homeless people from all across America.

  4. U.S. Conference of Mayors - Hunger and Homelessness Report

    (PDF download) Annual report on hunger and homelessness in 27 U.S. cities including Portland, Oregon.

  5. National Coalition for the Homeless  

    Facts and statistics about homelessness in America.

  6. National Alliance to End Homelessness

    News, facts, statistics, interactive maps and more about homelessness.

  7. Homelessness Resource Center

    Compiled articles for researching homelessness.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

10-10-10 World Homeless Day - COUNTDOWN – WEEK 10

This blog is a repost of a blog from the Portland Rescue Mission.  We thought the information was important enough to share.  Keep up the good work PRM! 

We’re counting down 10 weeks to the launch of the first annual World Homeless Day on 10-10-10 (October 10, 2010).

This week’s big idea: Challenge Your Thinking

What are your assumptions about homelessness?  Like most issues, there’s far more to homelessness than the stereotype.

  1. Most homeless people are middle-aged men.

    For many, the word “homeless” conjures up images of scraggly men standing on street corners holding cardboard signs. The face of homelessness is changing. In fact, the fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women and families with children.
  2. Homeless people need to “just get a job”.

    Getting a job is a challenge for most people in these days, and incredibly difficult for a homeless person.  Most lack clean clothes, showers, transportation, a permanent address and phone number.  Others have a criminal past, learning disabilities and lack of education that holds them down.  Even if they find work, their low income often cannot sustain them.  
  3. Homeless people are dangerous.

    Homelessness is often associated with drugs, alcohol, violence and crime.  So yes, life on the streets can be perilous for homeless men and women.  But very few crimes are committed by homeless people against those of us who try to help them.  At Portland Rescue Mission, the attitude we see most often from homeless men and women is gratitude.
  4. Homeless people are lazy.Surviving on the street takes more work than we realize.  Homeless men and women are often sleep-deprived, cold, wet, and sick.  Their minds, hearts and bodies are exhausted.  Though help is available, they may have no idea where to begin navigating the maze of social service agencies and bureaucracy.  With no transportation and little money, they can spend all day getting to food and maybe an appointment before they need to search for a safe place to sleep.  And they do this while lugging their precious few possessions along with them in a bag or backpack.  It is not a life of ease.
  5. People are homeless by choice.

    No one starts life with a goal of becoming homeless.  People lose jobs and then housing.  Women run away to the street to escape domestic violence.  Many people have experienced significant trauma and simply cannot cope with life.  Others struggle with mental illness, depression or post-traumatic stress. Yes, poor choices can contribute to homelessness.  But outside circumstances strongly influence those choices.
  6. If homeless people wanted to, they could pull themselves out of it.

    Once a man or woman loses a job or a home, getting those things back can feel nearly impossible.  Imagine trying to get a job when you have no address to put on a resume, no phone number, no shower and no clean-pressed clothes.  Often, things like legal issues, criminal history, mental illness, physical and emotional health hinder progress even more.
  7. Providing food and shelter only enables people to remain homeless.

    Food and shelter are essentials for life.  By offering these and other outreach services, like restrooms and mail service, we build relationships with people in need.  Then we’re able to offer them something more through our recovery programs, like counseling, addiction recovery, emotional healing, spiritual guidance, education, life skills and job training.
  8. If we provide sufficient affordable housing, homelessness will end.

    Putting a roof over the head of a deeply hurting person will not heal emotional wounds, break addiction, create relational stability or establish healthy life skills.  Housing can help people who are homeless due to poverty.  But it can be a shallow and temporary solution for the many people who are homeless because they are unable to function in a “normal” life. 
  9. Homelessness will never happen to me.

    Talk to the hundreds of homeless men and women we serve each day and they’ll tell you that they never intended or expected to become homeless.  They’ve had solid jobs, houses and families.  But at some point, life fell apart.  They are desperate for a way back home.
  10. Homelessness will never end.

    Many U.S. cities have established ambitious goals with 10-year plans to end homelessness.  While these plans to provide housing and better centralized services to homeless people are important in reducing the scope and duration of homelessness, they will not completely eliminate it everywhere for all time.  But homelessness does end—one life at a time.  With your help, we continue to restore the lives of hurting men, women and children every day.
To continue the countdown, check out the blog here: