The charitable foundation “Saint John Give Hope,” working closely with the patriarchal parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States and with the Orthodox Church in America, opened its own homeless shelter in New York. On November 11, the building was consecrated by the clergyman of the St. Nicholas Russian Cathedral Igumen Nicodemus (Balyasnikov).
“A person sometimes does not have the right to medical care, being in the United States with an expired visa, and often is simply afraid to turn to a medical or rehabilitation center. And for this we and all our compatriots should be ashamed. For the fact that next to us, especially in the area of Brighton Beach and Coney Island, a lot of people live and die on the streets,” commented Fr. Nicodemus.
According to him, representatives of other communities are much more concerned about each other, and the Russian-speaking community in this sense is only getting on its feet. This is what determines the priority for Russian-speaking homeless people: Others have long had someone to turn to.
“Often we see people who are lying on the streets, and they may not have the means to return to their homeland, although they want to return. We plan to resolve these issues by helping financially and legally to leave for home for those who see this as a way out of their deplorable situation. However, we should not generalize and think that we will be sending everyone to Russia, nothing of the kind. Every time we are determined to provide targeted and individual assistance. For one person, that's to find work, for another—to eat, shower or wash clothes," Igumen Nicodemus summarized.
A touching story was published on social networks about a person, who became the first resident of this homeless shelter: "In the photo, the elder brother Georgy tightly holds the cross. We found him in a miserable tent near the Kennedy airport. Once he started drinking, unable to withstand the indifference of others to the difficult circumstances of his life. He says that he was struck by the indifference of fellow Christians, broke down and started drinking. Now he takes steps towards God, working and struggling in the homeless shelter.
Before returning from living on the street, he asked us with hope: 'Will the Lord restore us from the ashes? I'm with you!' The photo was taken after the first evening prayer at the shelter."
George lived on the street for 15 years, but this did not stop him from passing the necessary examinations and getting the US citizenship.
Treasurer of the foundation “Saint John Give Hope,” Julia Manin has shared her thoughts on the new project: "At last we have a place for housing, a house in which everyone can be accommodated. However, full implementation of our plans is still far away. According to my calculations, we will have to work a couple more years. We already have a very clear vision of how the shelter will be. There will be two on-duty psychologists, during the day and night shifts. These will be different people who will alternate with each other, and under whose control the homeless will be able to spend the night and receive the necessary consultation, and moral and spiritual support. In addition, the very shelter itself, the fact of its existence will give us an opportunity to talk with state authorities, city authorities and other funds in the official language."
The “Saint John Give Hope” foundation was established in 2015. For more than two years, volunteers have been feeding homeless people in the Brighton Beach area. Every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday they bring hot soup, other food, and clothes. Those homeless who wish to be baptized in the Orthodox Church are helped to do so. On Mondays and Thursdays, volunteers from the Georgian Orthodox Church come to Brighton to feed the homeless. Together with the parishioners, the priests Zachary and Spiridon from the Georgian Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Theotokos in Brooklyn personally take part.
The activities of the volunteers received the blessing and support of the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate in the United States of America, John of Naro-Fominsk. Volunteers regularly hold meetings at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Manhattan. "We need helpers, especially building specialists, donations of tools, building materials, clothes and, of course, money is needed," Eugenia, who just recently joined the team of volunteers and is glad that she found an opportunity to do a good deed for God and others, said, summing up the results of the last meeting. "I have found a family and I am ready to learn and help," she said, summarizing her impressions on the foundation’s website.
Following the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church, the foundation “Saint John Give Hope" received the support of the Archbishop of New York and New Jersey, Michael (Orthodox Church in America). The Holy Trinity Cathedral of the OCA in Brooklyn is also actively involved in helping the homeless.
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