Metanoia…..the word comes from the Greek meaning to change one’s mind and heart…but in Cleveland the Metanoia Project is a group of people for whom their work is a ministry: to serve the chronically homeless, and to change how we all view – and interact with the homeless.
Metanoia’s mission is to serve the shelter-resistant chronically homeless – those who live on the streets, in abandoned buildings and cars, and in tents that are well-hidden from passers-by. Metanoia’s work is critically important during the winter months, when they are open four nights a week at St. Malachi’s (as well as on emergency nights when the weather falls below freezing) and provide meals and a warm place to sleep. Those brothers and sisters who come to Metanoia will not go to shelters for a number of reasons – fear, inability to function in a structured setting, or prior unfortunate experiences in a typical shelter. Metanoia turns no one away.
We were pleased when Brian Davis of NEOCH – who is the coordinator of Community West Foundation’s SocksPLUS campaign -- decided that the first distribution of thermal socks and sweatshirts would be at Metanoia last Saturday evening after the Homeless Stand Down. I arranged to meet with him at St. Malachi’s to help distribute the items.
I arrived a little early and chatted with the staff and then….the door opened and people started pouring in. And what came with them was an overwhelming feeling of desperation so strong that you could feel it ….and it was frightening. Not the people, but the desperate need to get out of the cold, the desperate need to get something to eat, the desperate need to simply survive.
As people kept coming in – there were 110 that evening – Program Director Carl Cook took charge – and it was impressive to watch him in action as he treated everyone with respect and as a friend, but made sure that everyone got a seat at the tables so they could get served food as soon as possible. Then it was time to pass out the socks and sweatshirts. Once again, Carl had them come up by tables to get their items. Some just took whatever was handed to them, others took great care in selecting their items, but you could feel that everyone valued these items – and knew that they were essential to their survival. The experience was overwhelming, and I knew that Community West Foundation was doing the right thing.
As a postscript, on Sunday afternoon I was driving down Lorain Avenue and saw two of the younger men I had seen at Metanoia the night before wearing the sweatshirts they had gotten Saturday night. I would bet they were wearing the socks too. Won’t you please help us take care of our homeless brothers and sisters by making a contribution to our SocksPLUS campaign? Click here for more information.