KA Gross - Writer
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The "Undeserving Poor"?

Thanks to Our Providers

Planting the Seeds of Change

Title 4

Planting the Seeds of Change

Three years ago this month I met with St. Paul’s Rector, Lowell Grisham, to tell of a great need in our community for a place for our mostly invisible homeless people to go to receive help and support. I had felt moved to communicate this problem for some time, but had been hesitant, not knowing what could possibly be done to address this lack, nor how I might help.

After hundreds of hours of talking with homeless people as part of a research project, I realized that many had nowhere to go to find the simple necessities of life and to be treated with respect and dignity. I envisioned a building where those without homes could go to be safe and out of the weather, to rest, heal, and renew. Lowell shared this vision, and helped me convey it to the Vestry. Six months later, Seven Hills Homeless Shelter was born.

From a wisp of an idea to a solid reality that serves more than 1,000 men, women, and children each year – how did that transformation occur? It came about through the joyful compassion of this community, St. Paul’s and beyond, that appears to nurture its growth each day; through the gifts of time, coffee, furniture, clothing, money, food, toys, books, and prayers; and through holding firm to the idea that all people deserve to be treated as honored guests. The seeds were planted three years ago, but you, our supporters, have tended them and helped them flourish. By bringing the message of need out into the sunlight of the community, instead of keeping it hidden away and dormant, we’ve seen the fruits of this nourishment create a blossoming garden of service.

In this same manner, the staff at Seven Hills helps our guests and residents express their own vision of healthy and fruitful lives. We do not force them to fit our notion of what they should be, any more than we would force a plant to grow in one particular pattern. A skillful gardener watches a flower express its nature in its own way, and only intervenes to provide nourishment, encouragement, and a little gentle guidance.

Deep inside, each of us perceives our divine design – the most fortunate discover this inner purpose and joyfully allow it to express itself. But a safe, supportive environment is essential for the awakening of this seed. At Seven Hills, the harvest is thriving employees and families, solidly housed, with healthy, productive lives.

Now Seven Hills’ board of directors has sown a new seed and a new vision – that of an expanded transitional housing program that will allow women and families to have the benefit of a vigorous support system dedicated to helping restore their lives. In its first two years, our “Fresh Start” program has helped many men return to stable and constructive lives. But countless women and children also have need of this assistance, and their numbers continue to increase. It is time for Seven Hills to grow to meet this need. In the coming year we will be working the soil of funding sources in hopes of yielding sufficient financial resources to fulfill this greater design.

We are all gardeners in this could-be Eden. Thank you for your continued nurturing of Seven Hills, which enables us to nurture the growth of the hundreds of blossoming souls who come to us each month.

With gratitude,
Kimberly Gross, Director
Seven Hills
June2003