From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Our Place director steps down

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the July 5, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)

Holy Names Sister Marcia Schrapps has stepped down as director of Our Place community outreach. She served in the post five years, with a one-year stint prior as a volunteer. Her last day was June 30.

She makes no bones about how much she will miss the place. “I’m a people person,” she said. “I loved being here.”

One of her last actions as director was to oversee the outreach service’s move into a much larger facility. Our Place moved into a new home last winter, a roomy facility on College. But moving notice was short and the move itself was fast, taking place in three months’ time. “It was really hard on us,” said Sister Marcia. “We had volunteer help, and had to arrange to be here when they could come. And we didn’t have any shelving for a while after we got moved, so we didn’t know where anything was.”

Sister Marcia explained that with the move, the director’s job changed. Whoever replaces her will need to be “more of a fund-raiser,” she said, and do more soliciting which will necessitate more time away from the facility. “I need to be here,” she said. “I’m a hands-on kind of person.” Since Our Place bought its building, it carries a debt, although financial gifts have been extremely generous and Sister Marcia is quick to praise to those who have helped Our Place.

When Sister Marcia started as director five and a half years ago, an interim position that was supposed to be for three months, Our Place was nearly defunct. There was little money and lots of discouragement. Under the self-confessed “high-energy” nun, Our Place was turned around, expanding its services to the poor.

“I’m a people person,” Sister Schrapps said. “When I was a principal, I was never in my office.” She saw her ministry there as two-fold: to serve the clients, but also to serve the volunteers. “Many of them are elderly, but they love coming here,” she said.

She is pondering her future, knowing only that she will have a job of some kind. She has been asked to write a book about the history of her Religious order in the Pacific Northwest and she was also asked to stay on as assistant director. There are also other possibilities for the former teacher.

What she will take away from her time at Our Place is a deep knowledge and compassion for the poor. “I didn’t know anything about this kind of ministry when I came,” she said. She explained that 95 percent of the needs are genuine, even though there is the occasional person who attempts, sometimes successfully, to use the system.

“So many of them get locked into poverty, usually by a lack of education,” she said. What she admires in Our Place clients is that nearly all of them demonstrate a “high-spirited” attitude, one that says “I’ve got to pick myself up and get on with it.”

Sister Marcia also appreciated learning about other denominations, another area in which her knowledge was lacking. Eight other churches and groups help support Our Place.

Several Our Place staff members and clients said they will “really miss Sister Marcia. She’s just great.” They termed her leaving “a great loss,” but wished her well in whatever she chooses to do.

Sister Marcia said she will miss them, too. She said her time at Our Place has been “a wonderful experience.”

Connie Menard, who recently moved to Spokane from Seattle, will be the new director for Our Place. She has had experience in outreach to the poor in a number of areas. She begins her duties July 1.

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