I came to St. John Center in August of 2020. I was unmoored after being laid off from what I thought was my dream career. I had spent the summer in the street, demanding justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor. I didn't know what was next, but I knew where was next. So i moved to Louisville without any particular plan, just the firm knowledge that my work was there.
After a brief false start manufacturing DNA for a few weeks (its harder than it looks, folks) I got a text message from an old friend. "St. Johns is hiring. I think you'd be a good fit."
Everything from the website to the job description screamed that to me.
"We believe in the dignity of every human being. We strive to call each person by name."
"We believe housing is a right."
I knew this place would be home. I learned Catholic social justice doctrine as a kid, giving dignity to those in need. I fought for fair and safe housing laws in college, discovering my passion for social justice organizing. I took on powerful landlords, starting a tenants union with just my friends and our will power after graduation.
This is different though. Its unreal what it feels like to get the resources to meet someone's immediate needs. To drive someone to their new apartment in the midst of an icestorm, first stopping at a bus stop so they could gather their bedding from the night before. To see the smile on their face when you drop off a washer and dryer to someone paralyzed in their extremities. To work and work and work to find housing for somone, only to move them into "home."
I wont lie, not every day is like those days. The work is hard. We know that for anyone to make meaningful progress on mental health, addiction, or any other disability they need to have their basic needs cared for. Many of these people are traumatized by the system that made them homeless to begin with, and participating fully within it again may never be an option. St John's having a deep well of discretionary funds means that I can cover the gaps for them when they need me. It means emergency food when SNAP won't respond quickly enough. It means turning the lights on even if someone has a debt they owe to LG and E and their deposit is huge. It means buying furniture for every client who moves in off the street, turning a blank room into everything it needs to become home.
At some point, I hope I can invite you to an in person event, to show you what this place and my coworkers mean to me. But for now, I just ask for a 20 dollar donation to meet my goal, so that I can show you this piece of my heart in person just as soon as we can.