Peter and Paul Community Services helps men transition into permanent housing

Sid Hastings

Bill had work, but as he struggled with alcohol, he found it difficult to stay in one place.

"I was sober until November of 2012, and then in February of 2013, (my) roommate ... found out that I was using, and he put me out," said Bill, who asked the Review not to use his real name. He went to a residential treatment program and later stayed with some friends, but eventually relapsed. After a short stay in the hospital, he connected with Peter and Paul Community Services, a Catholic-rooted, ecumenical organization that provides services to homeless individuals.

Bill came to the emergency shelter, located in the basement of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Soulard, and eventually was admitted into the transitional program. He used the time to pay down some debt and get financially stable as he kept working. Last week, he was able to move into his own apartment, and he is attending Alcoholics Anonymous to maintain his sobriety.

Peter and Paul Community Services is one of this year's newest organizations to receive funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal. The organization's roots go back to the early 1980s when an emergency winter shelter was opened at Sts. Peter and Paul Church. It became a nonprofit organization in 1984 and over the years has expanded to provide other services, including a meals program and special services for those who live with HIV and AIDS.

A $10,000 ACA grant has been slated to go toward the shelter, which includes 60 beds in the emergency shelter and an 15 spots for men in the transitional program, an up-to-two-year effort that helps individuals find permanent housing and earn and save income.

Dan Hill, assistant shelter director, called Bill an "an ideal resident, an exceptionally easy guy to work with. He worked on all of his goals and was very thorough and timely."

The shelter also includes the Community CollabARTive, which helps clients develop life skills through the arts; and a sports for social change program, which fosters community through sports. Volunteers from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and many other faith communities take turns preparing and serving the meals from the second through the 21st of each month to residents of the shelter and others in need.

Peter and Paul Community Services, which serves approximately 1,500 people a year, also is completing work on a safe haven at the former Garfield Elementary School in the Benton Park West neighborhood, which will provide housing and services for chronically homeless individuals.

Bill said his fellow residents were excited for him when he got his own place. He said he knows things would have been different if it weren't for the support he received at Peter and Paul Community Services.

"I didn't know much about (homeless) shelters, but hadn't really heard much good about them," he said. But "Dan was always encouraging me when I was looking for full-time work and helped with my resume. The guys I was with were very supportive."

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