Jan 22, 2014

Soups On At St. Pauls

In conjunction with The Lehigh Valley Conference of Churches, lunch is served three times a week at St. Pauls. According to Reverend Richard Baumann, We treat them as people, not just simply give them food. In some sense, this is a place where people can get something to eat and are also treated with some degree of respect. Baumann arranges for some of the nurses in the parish to attend the lunches, which gives the lunch guests an opportunity to ask some health related questions. Recently, Pastor Baumann has been in the news for providing basic shelter from the cold for the homeless. Over the years I've know Baumann as an advocate for the neighborhood. About ten years ago he spoke up for the neighbors who were concerned about losing the neighborhood parking lot, to the Zawarski townhouse project. He also advocated for the merchants and residents who were displaced by the arena. Although the church may be one of the oldest in the city, Baumann makes sure that it's mission stays relevant to the times.

ADDENDUM: On Tuesday evening Julio Guridy visited Safe Haven, which is the basement of St. Pauls, and The Rescue Mission, which has a $multi-million dollar budget. He was shocked at the lack of facilities at the church, but impressed with the Mission. What he doesn't seem to understand is that although the Mission may have room for a few guests from St. Paul, it cannot, and will not accommodate all of them. In this sub-zero weather there is nothing more important than being inside, even if it's on the floor of a church basement.


Anonymous said...

Mayor Pawlowski got the YMCA opened for the homeless, isn't that great news, Mike!

Anonymous said...

Is Mayor Pawlowski still on the board for the Rescue Mission? And wasn't Mrs Pawlowski an advocate for the homeless back when the city demolished tent city and how many died that year?

Rich Fegley said...

So, I got a little upset at the Lehigh County Commissioners meeting earlier tonight.

I went to the meeting with no intention of speaking.

Diane Teti, Chris Cocca and José Colquhoun are the real angels doing this work with the homeless and they have the media and the public's attention right now. They are shining light on the problems and failures of the system and my job is to assist them it whatever way I can. I don’t have to get “angry” and loud. I don't have to be at the front. I can just be supportive. And quiet.

I sat and listened to Diane and two formerly chronically homeless men (that Diane and our group rescued one year ago) speak to the Commissioners. Then Chris Cocca began speaking. At that point I realized the Commissioners did not say much of anything in response to Diane...I knew then that this was going to end with something similar to City Council’s response, "We will schedule a meeting to discuss this issue that you are just now bringing to our attention."


The new Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller was there tonight and spoke briefly about how he and Mayor Ed Pawlowski are dealing with this homeless issue. The use of the YMCA between the hours of 10pm and 5am has been offered. How cold was it at 5am this morning? (anyone posting at 5am?) This is a good shelter suggestion to start but I don't feel it's the best we can do.

I'm going to try keep this short because the whole thing will be on the County website soon.


After I spoke, some of the Commissioners responded to me, they said that I most likely would not like what they were going tell me, but….

I let them speak and kindly told them, “No, sorry, but that answer is really not acceptable.” I sat there. At some point, a First Pres advocate, an attorney(?) pointed out that the Fran Dougherty Homelessness letter sent on Monday stated that the COUNTY was responsible for the homeless, no details. All of the Commissioners said that they had not seen or read the Dougherty/Pawlowski memo.

Huh? A memo about emergency sheltering, pointing to the County, from the office of the Mayor and no one had seen or read this? Ok. We are all busy, yes.

At some point I returned to the podium. I admit, at some point I may have slipped out-of-order and was asked to come back to order.

Finally, Commissioner Sheller began to explain the situation and how the Commissioners could and couldn’t help us and that there was not going to be any discussion tonight or any problems solved.

While Commissioner Sheller was still speaking to me, I quietly returned to my seat, gathered my things and made my way to the door. I turned, interrupted and told everyone to have a good evening and that I had to go to St. Paul’s and check on the homeless there.

Out the door I went. One of my friends (formerly homeless) followed me out quietly and gave me his quiet support while I vented just a little more. I spoke from my heart in the County Chambers. I felt really sorry for the homeless at that moment.

(continued in my next comment, too long)

Rich Fegley said...

Judge my actions and words how you will. After a year of being involved with the so-called experts on the City of Allentown's Commission to End Chronic Homelessness, I just cannot remain quiet another day only to have to wait another month or quarter for the next Commission meeting where we discuss what we did in our sub-committee meetings.!?

I’m not shitting you.

This is really what is happening on this Commission to End Chronic Homelessness. I can say this with confidence because I have seen this first-hand. I think in a situation like this, experiencing something first-hand is very important and sometimes necessary. How could I make judgement on this Commission if I did not first take a closer look at what they were doing for the past FIVE years? I can't make statements like these without having been involved first-hand.

I sat in on the City of Allentown’s Commission to End Chronic Homelessness meetings along with Diane Teti, Chris Cocca, Pastor Baumann and Dale Smith (First Pres). I admit, I missed the last Commission meeting but I was able to attend the Emergency Sheltering sub-committee meetings that Diane, Dale and I had been asked to attend because these sub-committees would then just have a “leader” report back to the main Commission quarterly. I guess we asked too many questions when we started attending meetings in January of 2012.

...So I walked out of the Commissioners meeting. I warned them that I would if the County was not going to offer ANY remedy or even some assistance.

I went to Safe Haven. I talked to some of the homeless and told them, “I yelled at our County Commissioners tonight and told them that they needed to help everyone here and that our City Council also has to come and give us a little help now. Diane is still back there at the meeting and I hope I didn’t offend too many people by yelling to make my point.” I got a chuckle out of a few of them.

I went over to ABW and sat for a beer. Diane arrived and sat. She received a text message that one of the Commissioners was at Safe Haven. So we quick walked back over.

When we got there, THERE WERE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS THERE! Of course I apologized profusely for being somewhat out-of-order and said I was sorry that it had to come to this for me.

At first I only saw Commissioner Mazziotti and Sheller. Then, as I’m talking to some folks, I realize the guy sitting on the floor across the room is Commissioner Ott talking to a homeless gentleman that looked just like any one of us reading this blog post. I have to say, there are several men at Safe Haven right now that do NOT look homeless but I know they are homeless because I see them at Safe Haven on these super cold nights. There is one man there that is so toughened from being homeless, he could survive out in the cold but he was just released from prison and wanted to simply rest at Safe haven where it was warm. He pointed to the hot radiator at his head where he was lying on the floor. Don't worry, it's nice and warm (almost hot) in the basement of St. Paul's.

Thank you to the Commissioners for listening to me and my wild passion.

Further thanks to Commissioners Sheller, Mazziotti and Ott. Your visit was very important to the homeless that were there tonight. I made sure I explained who you were and that WE were going to make sure that ALL OF US get the homeless at St. Paul's Safe Haven the help they need.

Thanks everyone for reading.
Rich Fegley

michael molovinsky said...

bill@8:01, it's good news and about time, wonder what got him thinking about that after all these years?

Rich@2:37and 2:43 diane,dale, chris, pastor and you are to be commended for your advocacy on this most pressing issue.

Anonymous said...

God bless these activists.

Anonymous said...

I pulled a drive by at the 8th and union church last night, only to have seen the kings public servants collecting data for the king on this matter? While out of my vehicle a 69news car pulled up? The team sent buy the king was a subsidiary of the
King Hounds From Hell and there subcomedy that they are currently trying to cut there colluded efforts to take advantage of the disadvantaged that is collectivly over taking there calculations from advertisements?"QUOTE ME"

patent pending

Anonymous said...

MM, they got more accomplished in weeks than the years there was supposed to be an actual administration handling the problem...

Alfonso Todd