A Place of Rest
You’re helping men like Samuel find respite … and a new life.
Can you imagine living on the streets in the searing heat of a Jacksonville summer — with no place to go to cool down and get a break from the heat?
Samuel knows what it’s like, because that’s the life he used to live when he struggled with an addiction ... .
On those scorching days, he longed for a place to beat the heat … a place like Sulzbacher’s Urban Rest Stop, an air-conditioned facility where homeless neighbors can find relief from the elements and get connected to the services they need.
Today, Samuel spends a lot of time at the Urban Rest Stop, where he’s on staff as a “storage specialist.” When people come in off the streets, carrying everything they own, Samuel places their belongings in bins while they cool off, take a shower or watch TV.
“They just come in and rest,” says Samuel.
Samuel’s life on the streets came to an end when he ran into legal problems. He ended up in drug court, and was sent to Sulzbacher to get clean and find a fresh start. He thrived on the structure at the shelter, and took on more and more responsibilities.
Today, he’s a Resident Assistant in addition to his gig at the Urban Rest Stop. And now he’s giving back. “They helped me, now I’m helping others,” he says. “It feels nice.”
Samuel encourages others to follow in his footsteps, to break away from drugs and street life. “I try to help them think of the right way instead of the wrong,” he says. “If I can do it, they can do it.”
Thank you for helping people find a fresh start!
She Got Her Smile Back
Thanks to you, Bailey got the dental work she needed.
Bailey needed some major dental work, but Medicaid wouldn’t fully cover what she needed.
As a single mother of three kids, Bailey had a tight budget and couldn’t afford the work herself. Someone suggested she get it done at Sulzbacher ... .
Bailey’s reaction was understandable: “At the homeless shelter?”
Yes. Sulzbacher’s services to struggling neighbors include complete healthcare — including dental. “I never would’ve thought of it,” says Bailey.
But Bailey took her friend’s suggestion and went. She had some teeth pulled and got a bridge. As a bonus, they repaired a gap in her front teeth she’d had her whole life. “They did an excellent job,” says Bailey. “They were very professional, they paid attention to my needs. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else now.”
Bailey pauses, and grins. “And they gave me my smile back!”
Your support gives struggling neighbors reason to smile. Thank you for making a difference in their lives!
See how you helped a young single mom start to turn her life around.
Life has been an uphill battle for Channing from the start.
Born premature and with some health issues, she spent her first months in an incubator in neonatal intensive care. She didn’t get out of the hospital till her first birthday, and by then, she’d been abandoned by her parents. She spent most of her childhood bouncing from one foster home to another ... .
Adulthood hasn’t been any easier. A single mother of two young children, Channing, 31, struggles with epilepsy and seizures. Her disability income wasn’t enough to sustain her family, and she kept falling behind on bills.
When she lost her apartment, Channing had nowhere to go. She remembered a TV news report about Sulzbacher Village and said to herself, “I’ve got to go there.”
Within days, her family was in one of the Village’s two-bedroom units. Slowly, she was able to climb out of debt.
More importantly, she felt the love and encouragement of the Sulzbacher staff, and she started growing in confidence, feeling like independence was possible again.
“God has blessed me to put my family here,” she says. “We love the people here, and they’ve helped us so much. I couldn’t ask for any better place than this.”
At Sulzbacher, Channing has also gotten the medical help she needed, including a new medication for her epilepsy. She says her seizures are much rarer now.
“If it weren’t for Sulzbacher, I’d probably be out on the street with nowhere to go,” Channing says. “I’m so grateful that I’m here.”
Thank you so much for supporting our neighbors in their time of need.
A Mission of Mercy
For 26 years, San José Catholic has been providing a monthly meal at Sulzbacher.
When Sulzbacher opened in 1995, we recruited local churches to commit to provide and serve monthly meals at the shelter.
Ruby Peters, who was then president of the Council of Catholic Women at San José Church, jumped right in. She signed her church up for the fourth Sunday of every month ... .
And now, 26 years and nearly 150,000 meals later, they’re still doing it every fourth Monday … and Ruby is still spearheading the effort.
She says it’s been one of the most fulfilling adventures of her life.
“In Catholicism, we have this whole thing about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the sick,” Ruby says. “This fits right into our mission of doing corporal works of mercy.”
Ruby’s team brings the same meal every month — one they simply call “San José Chicken.” It’s baked chicken with garlic and Italian seasonings, plus a couple sides and a dessert.
“We tried mixing up the menu at first,” Ruby says, “but the guests kept requesting the chicken!”
Ruby has never had trouble rounding up volunteers for the monthly gig. In the early days, her four kids sometimes helped; today, her grandkids pitch in.
Various ministries at the church also help — Sunday school classes, the choir, youth groups and so on. Ruby says volunteering is a good bonding experience as well as a “teachable moment,” particularly for young volunteers.
“Catholic social teaching is all about the dignity of human beings,” she says. “We want to treat each individual and serve them dinner like we were serving them in our own home. Because there but for the grace of God go I, as the saying goes.
“It could be any of us on the other side of that serving line.”
Want to volunteer? Click here to get involved and make a difference!
Thanks to you, our dental services are wide open to neighbors in need
You already know about Sulzbacher’s services to homeless and hurting people — that we do more than just meet their most urgent and basic needs. We also try to get to the root of their issues, tackling the reasons behind their circumstances.
But there’s another Sulzbacher service that spends every day getting to the root of people’s problems: our dental clinics ... .
Edward, a 72-year-old retired steel mill worker and Vietnam vet, certainly is grateful for these services. His retirement took quite a bite out of his income and benefits, including the loss of dental insurance. When he started having issues beyond the usual check-ups and cavities, he couldn’t afford the more expensive procedures with his private dentist.
So he came to Sulzbacher in 2018 to look into our dental services. He qualified for reduced rates. “And I’ve been coming here ever since,” Edward says.
He figures that over the years, he’s received thousands of dollars’ worth of services, pricey procedures he never could afford elsewhere. “So those things probably wouldn’t have gotten done,” he says.
Edward says the care he receives at Sulzbacher is as good as any he’s ever had. “I’d never be able to find better care,” he says. “And everybody there is real nice. It’s just a great atmosphere there, and I feel comfortable that my dental work is being done well.
“I just can’t say enough good things about it.”
Edward’s dental care is just one of MANY ways your support helps people in our community. Thank you!
A Better Community
You and Wanda Willis share a vision for serving others.
Wanda Willis is a big believer in transformational change. That’s why she says the Bold City Chapter of The Links, International is a great fit for Sulzbacher, which is all about transformational change.
The Links, founded in 1946, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations, with more than 16,000 members. Willis is president of the Bold City Chapter, which has 45 members. The group averages about 625 volunteer hours per month, including many at Sulzbacher ... .
“We focus on volunteering to make our community a better place to live, work and play,” Willis says. “That’s why we do what we do.”
With a focus on women and children, Bold City members frequently volunteer at Sulzbacher Village, where they stocked a library of children’s books. Among other projects, they spearheaded “The Power of the Purse,” donating more than 50 purses — filled with personal care items — for women at the Village.
“Our work really aligns with Sulzbacher,” Willis says. “We’re providing opportunities for creating transformational change.”
Such stories are made possible because of friends like you. Thank you!
To help more neighbors like Wanda, give now.