– Pope Francis, June 7, 2013
Practicing the teachings, compassion and love of Jesus Christ, St. Francis Community Services serves individuals and families in need through community-based, culturally sensitive programs, helping people to recognize their strengths, overcome obstacles and achieve a better tomorrow.
CLAM offers free legal representation for impoverished people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. Its Family Law Initiative protects women and children who are victims of abuse, freeing them from the lethal cycle of domestic violence. CLAM also acts as guardian ad litem for children to ensure their best interests are represented in legal actions. The Immigration Law Initiative guides immigrants in applying for citizenship, keeps families intact by averting deportation, and establishes guardianships for children who arrive in the United States without their parents. Finally, the Veterans Advocacy Project provides legal aid and support for military veterans who are experiencing stress, health issues, family problems and homelessness. CLAM removes barriers that prevent some veterans from receiving VA benefits or finding employment.
Midtown reaches out to struggling people in eight City of St. Louis neighborhoods. The Youth Program engages children and their families in building a peaceful community. Services include after-school groups, tutoring, a Teen Club, Junior Leaders, “Kids in the Arts,” and a Summer Academy. Family PRIDE provides health education, safe play groups and case management for pregnant women and their young children. The goal is the birth of healthy babies in an area where the rate of infant mortality is high. In the People 1st program, unemployed persons learn the skills and habits necessary to find and keep a job. Midtown operates City Greens, a community market that brings fresh, nutritious, affordable foods into the “food desert” existing around the center. The “Midtown Mamas” and the “Men’s Club” meet to voice needs and tackle neighborhood concerns. Finally, Midtown provides distressed neighbors with emergency assistance for rental arrearages, utility bills and other needs, while offering seminars on how to access resources and build strong financial skills.
The Tri-County Center serves homeless and near homeless residents of St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties. Its Safely Home program re-locates homeless people living in motels, shelters or outdoors into affordable rental housing. Besides providing help with housing, the center helps participants build the skills and resources needed to achieve lasting stability. Meanwhile, the Tri-County Center offers emergency assistance with utilities, rent, mortgage payments, medical care, transportation, temporary motel housing and other basic needs. Collaboration with local St. Vincent de Paul conferences, parishes, the Community Council and other local organizations is essential in carrying out the center’s work.
The Housing Resource Center is a HUD-approved comprehensive housing counseling organization serving primarily St. Louis city and county. HRC prevents homelessness by helping tenants and homeowners alike catch up on payments, live within a realistic budget and repair their credit. For those who are already homeless, HRC serves as the gateway to St. Louis city and county emergency shelters and services by operating the “Homeless Hotline.” HRC also rapidly re-houses homeless people into permanent housing; provides case work and support for people living in motels; and responds to the needs of disaster victims. Financial education, one-on-one budget/credit counseling and intensive case management are important tools in this ministry.
Located in the Baden neighborhood of north St. Louis city, Father Tolton Center touches the lives of vulnerable, impoverished older adults by operating a multi-service senior center. The center serves hot, nutritious meals three times a week; delivers meals and visits home-bound elders; provides transportation to medical appointments and other destinations; offers nutrition and health seminars; makes telephone reassurance calls; and conducts a variety of recreational and social activities. Additionally, Father Tolton Center provides utility assistance to elders and disabled people.
Southside supports and strengthens immigrant and refugee families from throughout the region while also addressing needs in the Bevo neighborhood of south St. Louis city. Bilingual services are offered in a culturally sensitive and linguistically competent environment. In Southside’s mental health department, Spanish-speaking therapists work with Latino children and families to address trauma and heal relationships. Meanwhile, a Youth Services program offers bilingual after-school groups, tutoring and a summer day camp. The “Amigas Latinas” group educates and empowers women. A Vietnamese Health Clinic, conducted with the Institute for Family Medicine, provides chronic disease management and primary health care to Vietnamese elders and their families. A Vietnamese Elders group offers social and educational experiences that reduce isolation among these older adults. Bilingual case management helps all clients navigate challenging systems, overcome barriers to service and attain financial stability. Southside recently moved to the campus of St. John the Baptist Parish and, collaborating with the parish, is expanding services to neighborhood residents, especially in the area of housing counseling, rent/mortgage assistance and financial education.
St. Francis Community Services has its administrative offices at 4532 Lindell Blvd. in the City of St. Louis (zip code 63108). For more information about services, to volunteer or to donate, call 314-932-3300.
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