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

Holy Names Sisters pledge support to struggling Our Place community ministry

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Oct. 24, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

For the next year, Our Place Community Ministry will be under the guidance of the Sisters of the Holy Names. Perhaps because of the nation’s tragedy Sept. 11, 2001, donations to Our Place went down and Our Place found itself in nearly the same straits as many of its clients.

Our Place is located at 1509 W. College, in the poorest area in the city of Spokane. It provides emergency assistance to residents of the West Central neighborhood, with services including a food bank, a clothing bank, and facilitating the path of clients who need help from other agencies and organizations.

Our Place is governed by a board of members who represent seven churches in its West-Central neighborhood. The board approached the Sisters about the plight of Our Place. The Sisters have a deep commitment to the poor and have been involved with Our Place in various ways since its founding.

They offered executive administration on a volunteer basis, agreeing to take responsibility for Our Place for a year with a review in six months.

The Sisters listed four goals for Our Place: to “establish communications with all churches in the Spokane area; to begin grant writing immediately; to create a positive and welcoming environment for Our Place clients; and to provide training for the volunteers.”

The Sisters will work in a collaborative effort with the Our Place Board. They named Holy Names Associate Peggy Sammons as executive director. She will oversee the daily operations of Our Place.

Holy Names Sister Joan Shea will write the all-important grants that help fund the ministry’s work. Another Associate, Jaci Meyers, is treasurer.

Fifteen Holy Names Sisters and Associates, many of them members of the nearby St. Joseph Parish on Dean, are committed to the Our Place ministry, including Sister Marcia Schrapps, former director of Our Place.

Sammons, who is one of the 15, said the group had been wanting some kind of outreach when “this came up and seemed to be what we were looking for. It was a bigger need than what we’d been doing.”

Sammons herself is no stranger to Our Place. She had worked at the center under Sister Marcia and was familiar with its operation. Her office is a busy place as the phone rings almost non-stop and volunteers pop in to get their questions answered. Sammons said they are “working hard” to get the number of volunteers built up again. “Our Place wouldn’t run without our volunteers,” she said. “They are just amazing, so dedicated.”

One volunteer is Carolyn Petrie, who has been on the board of Our Place for several years. She believes in the importance of Our Place: “As Christians it’s a way to live our faith. It’s part of that lifestyle to help others.”

Our Place closed down from Sept. 1-10 to undergo reorganization. The picture looks a little brighter since its reopening. Sammons said the number of volunteers is growing. “It’s building back up,” she said. Donations are on the rise, too. Sammons’ car was jammed full of personal hygiene items, which, she said, are always greatly needed by the people who come to Our Place.

Other critically needed items include blankets and jackets. Sammons said they can always use those, especially now with the cold weather arriving.

Another constant need is for large-size diapers. “We usually get the small size,” Sammons said, “but babies wear diapers for a long time.” Financial donations are always welcome, too.

The staff at Our Place is expert at making do, but Sammons laughed to tell about wanting a new paper cutter for their office. “We’d like to get one that cuts more than two sheets of paper at once.”

Right now Our Place is busy distributing food and clothing. Sammons hopes that soon they will be able to provide other kinds of help, such as energy assistance, bus tokens and laundry and gas vouchers. “We’ve already started getting calls about energy assistance,” she said.

Sammons expressed a hopeful optimism about the future of Our Place: “There’s such a need,” she said. “It will turn around. We rose (in the beginning); we can rise again.”

The Holy Names Sisters know the importance of Our Place in the lives of those with little or no income. Thanks to their commitment, Our Place will continue.

(For more information about Our Place Community Ministries, call (509) 326-7267.)

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