July 11, 2018

Who We Serve: Introduction & St Johns Place

As you may know, Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people in recovery shelters get their lives back on track.

By: Ella Curcuruto

As you may know, Back on My Feet (BoMF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people in recovery shelters get their lives back on track. We do this by organizing morning runs that aid in our member’s health and wellness. Hence our name: Back on My Feet. Over the next seven weeks, we will introduce you to the facilities where members of our program reside.

We have partnerships with seven facilities across the city. These include St. John’s Hospice, Center for Hope, Our Brothers Place, House of Passage, Kirkbride, Ready, Willing and Able, and House of Healing. In the following seven-part blog series, we will take you through each of these. We will discuss what their mission is, and why it’s important. So keep checking every week for a new post!

To begin, it may be helpful for you to understand the different types of facilities Back on My Feet partners with.

  • Emergency Shelter: An emergency shelter is any facility that provides temporary shelter for the homeless. (The emergency shelters BoMF partners with are: St. John’s Hospice, Our Brother’s Place, and Center for H.O.P.E.)
  • Inpatient Recovery Facility: A treatment facility dedicated to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. (The inpatient recovery facility that BoMF partners with is: Kirkbride.)
  • Transitional Living Facility: The purpose of transitional living facilities are to help the resident become a “productive member” of society. Typically, these facilities provide low-cost housing. (The transitional living facility that BoMF partners with is: Ready, Willing and Able.)
  • Recovery Home: NARR (National Alliance for Recovery Residences) defines a recovery home as a“sober, safe, and healthy living environment that promotes recovery from alcohol and other drug use and associated problems.” (The recovery home that BoMF partners with is: House of Healing.)
  • Women’s Shelter: A facility that offers housing and basic needs to women (and sometimes their children). Typically, those who are escaping domestic abuse. (The women’s shelter that BoMF partners with is: House of Passage.)

There are many volunteer and member stories already on our blog, but we have yet to talk about the shelters themselves. The goal of this series is to highlight all the incredible work happening at the facilities, and the diversity existing within the facilities we serve. We hope you enjoy reading and consider this a space to learn and ask questions.


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ST. John’s Hospice

Established in 1963 by a Catholic pastor, Monsignor Anthony J. O’Neill, St. John’s Hospice is a “gospel-centered” emergency shelter. As they say on their website, their mission is to provide services for homeless men in the community. So far, they’ve done an amazing job. The staff provides meals, drug and alcohol-free residence, showers, clothing, and much more.

St. John’s has made a huge impact on the community during their fifty-five years of service. Three thousand men are fed full meals per week; that’s over eight million meals to date! From meals to residence for over two-hundred-fifty men a week, St. John’s is a facility that Back on My Feet is proud to have been partners with since 2009.

In addition to residential services, St. John’s also provides:

    • Noon Meal: 325 meals made every weekday, served from 12:00-1:00 PM. In addition to providing essential resources to the homeless community of Philadelphia, it provides an opportunity for the greater Philadelphia community to interact and build relationships with the individuals dining at St. John’s.
    • Case Management: One-on-one counseling, referrals to medical and employment services, use of phone.
    • Daily Showers: Provided weekdays (except Thursdays) from 8:30-9:15 AM.
    • Mailroom Services: Mail can be collected Monday through Friday from 10 am – 6 pm, and Saturday 12 noon – 6 pm. Access to mail services is critical for individuals experiencing homelessness as it provides a physical address that may be necessary for job applications, receiving legal documents, etc.

One of St. John’s unique programs gets the community involved through cooking. Casseroles are served as the “hot noon meal” to the homeless men at the shelter. St. John’s encourages people to make casseroles at home, and donate them to the shelter. Some of their favorite recipes are beef stroganoff, shepherd’s pie, and tuna noodle casserole. People are also encouraged to use their own favorite recipes if they would like.

Ramon Laboy, the Program Director at BoMF Philadelphia says:

“In regards to Philadelphia history, they have served thousands and thousands of people. They also do daily feedings. So they feed food-insecure and housing-insecure individuals on a daily basis. If you ever go there around twelve o’clock, the line just wraps around the building. And they do that every single day.”
Ramon provides a line of communication between the Back on My Feet program and the facilities the program partnerships. Over the course of his 5-year tenure with Back on My Feet he has seen the critical importance a strong relationship with partnering facilities plays in the success of our members.

To learn more about St. John’s Hospice, we encourage you to take a look at their video, which features Back on My Feet alumni Chrishere.

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