New York, August 25, 2022
A shelter run by the charitable St. John Give Hope Foundation and its home church of St. John of Kronstadt (Moscow Patriarchate) that have been rehabilitating homeless and addicted men in New York City since 2017 may have to close in 3 months if they can’t find new premises or manage to buy out the space they are currently renting.
As was previously reported: “A 5-year lease was signed for the shelter at its current premises in 2017, and the owner plans to sell the building once the lease is up. Thus, the St. John of Kronstadt Foundation is seeking donors to sign up for monthly PayPal donations. With 100 or more such donors, the bank could be convinced to grant a loan for the Foundation to buy the property.”
Thanks to the publication at OrthoChristian.com a year ago, a few new donors signed up for monthly donations. The St. John Give Hope Foundation’s volunteers and wards greatly appreciate this support. However, they are far from reaching the goal of at least 100 donors. As of today, 31 people have signed up for monthly donations. Also, the Foundation has accumulated $28,000, but it’s not enough for a down payment to the bank.
In July and August of this year the volunteers recorded a few short videos in which they share their thoughts and impressions about their motivation to participate in the charitable activities, and they ask for help in finding a new premises or buying out the current space. Denis Vengland said that he has been volunteering since 2012, and this activity gives him the opportunity to serve the Lord as he additionally explained in another video, in Russian. Olga Roitman sits on the Board of Directors, and she cooks soup and helps distribute it to the homeless every Tuesday night. Her younger son Raphael also comes with her often, voluntarily helping the less fortunate. The Foundation’s CEO Vadim Arefiev tells about a young man named Beka who tragically passed away a few years ago. Beka volunteered for St. John Foundation, he served in the altar, and considered becoming a monk, but he was tragically killed by a drug addict whom he was trying to help. Mr. Arefiev said that in memory of Beka, they have an icon of his patron the Georgian Martyr St. Beka in the St. John of Kronstadt home church.
Since the Foundation is located in South Brooklyn, an area with a high concentration of Russian-speaking people, their volunteers and wards are mainly people from the former Soviet republics. They have recorded a few videos in Russian. Eugenia showed viewers the yard, which was beautified by the “brothers” in the process of their rehabilitation. She also mentions a very special icon of St. John of Kronstadt holding the House of Mercy which he opened in Russia. The icon reminds that the St. John Give Hope Foundation is trying to revitalize the traditions of Orthodox charities that were forcibly interrupted in Russia during Soviet times.
Michael lives in the House of Hope. He comes from the Transcarpathian Province of Ukraine. In the video he says that the House of Hope helped him survive after living on the streets, especially since his health was undermined—he came to the St. John House with broken leg. Michael was especially touched by the kindness and caring of Foundation’s people during the funeral of Miroslav Mitsoda, a man he met at the House of Hope, who was also from the Western Ukraine.
George was never a homeless, but says he would have been without the St. John House of Hope. He recently received an apartment from the state and left the House of Hope.
Dmitry comes to the All-Night Vigils at the St. John home church because his home parish serves Sunday Liturgies only. He says it’s important for him to be a part of St. John community since he used to be a drug addict and he understands the importance of the Foundation’s mission.
Despite all the difficulties, St. John House of Hope and the home church continue their mission. A Muslim man from a former Soviet republic was recently baptized with the name of Gregory, and is undergoing rehabilitation. Julia was also baptized this year, after she was released from prison. The Foundation is known for its special attention to former prisoners and addicts, giving them a comfortable place where they can learn about Orthodoxy.
The wards also recently made and installed a cross on the grave of Sergei Teleshev, a man who was healed of a fatal alcohol-induced liver disease after confessing and receiving Holy Communion and Holy Unction. He later married and became the father to two children. However, he eventually returned to alcohol and died in a drunken brawl in 2019. The St. John House of Hope Foundation continues to help him and his family, just as they did during his life.