Since it was founded eleven years ago, the East Side Catholic Shelter has housed almost 4,500 homeless people and served them 170,000 meals.
But funding is always a struggle, according to Director Juanita McPherson.
The shelter is dependent for eighty percent of its funds on government agencies.
A staff of fifteen operates the trim 32-bed shelter, located in a house on Cleveland’s southeast side. The residents do housekeeping, helping “to give something back,” McPherson explains. “People won’t make good decisions about their lives,” she adds, “unless they are in a clean pleasant place.”
Services provided at the shelter include referrals, counseling, tutoring, childcare and even bus tickets.
Since the shelter opened, drugs have become an increasing problem. Addiction itself causes homelessness and the breakup of families, McPherson says.
This crisis has prompted the plans for IWO SAN (Nigerian for “house of healing”), a treatment facility for chemically dependent women and a drug prevention program for their children.
Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese has made available the former Holy Family Convent on Chapelside Rd. Until necessary permits are obtained, the state certified IWO SAN program will continue to be housed in a separate building near the shelter, where it is run by a staff of nine.
This article originally appeared in Issue #3. Juanita McPherson recently retired from East Side Catholic
Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine published Spring 1996 – Issue 15