Help on the Journey

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Emergency Assistance Workers help guests discover pathways out of poverty

Guests at the Meldrum and Conner meal sites, as well as the Capuchin Services Center, know that a helping hand is never far away. Emergency Assistance Workers (EAW) are there to help guests discover ways to address needs, improve quality of life and find ways out of poverty. Many root causes, or a combination of them, can trigger a slide into financial hardship. Among them: lack of reliable transportation, a scarcity of good-paying entry-level jobs, exorbitant rents, high taxes and skyrocketing auto insurance rates. And sometimes “life happens.” An unexpected illness, injury or accident can bring about financial hardship.

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.” (Psalm 46:2)

Deborah Starr-Hodges, a trained social worker, has been offering help to Capuchin Soup Kitchen guests for 21 years. Currently at the Meldrum meal site, Deborah advocates and works to identify and solve problems. “Feeding people – body and spirit – is what we’re about,” said Deborah. Seeing people attain sobriety and get their lives back on track is among the greatest things Deborah sees. Some needs, such as transportation, can be easily remedied with a bus pass. But often the immediate need is just a symptom of a deeper, more challenging set of circumstances. It’s here where a referral to another Capuchin Soup Kitchen site, such as the ROPE program, or outside programs, can help address root causes and find sustainable remedies.

“Seeing people having a life, something that they might not have even imagined happening, seeing dreams become a reality is powerful to me,” said Deborah. The pop cans in Deborah’s office serve as a reminder that even in the bleakest of situations, there is a way out. “As people find housing or income, I’d ask them: ‘Remember you’re going to owe me a Coca-Cola when you get back on your feet,’” said Deborah. “So I have people bringing me cans of Coca-Cola all the time.”

Read more about the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in our recent newsletter.