St. Francis House provides homeless many necessities

Published: Sunday, January 12, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 11:54 p.m.

This is in response to the guest column (Jan. 6) by Bob Freeman titled "Has St. Francis House drifted?" Many of Freeman's generalizations and comments boggled my mind.

There are new administrators and staff at SFH, and they, like the old ones, are constantly pressured by the local municipality to reduce the number of lunches served, people helped and homeless housed.

Even so, SFH is almost always housed to full capacity with women, children and men. It provides lunches to all, no questions asked. It helps people keep themselves and their clothing clean. Staff and volunteers try to do their best to help everyone.

Freeman blatantly insulted the hard-working staff and volunteers who try every day to provide nourishing meals to the residents and as many of Gainesville's homeless as they can during lunch.

Does Freeman really think that these dedicated people would make the food taste bad to discourage the hungry or homeless?

Freeman also failed to realize that SFH does not hire people to be on the board of directors, yet he is holding them accountable for not being ethnically diverse. Board members are members of the community or business people who give their time to help govern SFH through rough and good times. Complaints about the racial make-up of the board members and staff insult those who really want to and do help.

Freeman also erroneously calls SFH a social services agency. St. Francis House is funded by the United Way and by donations from businesses and residents of Gainesville and surrounding areas. Social Services Agencies are funded directly by government and generally do not help those who are homeless and hungry like SFH.

Freeman's makes several comments about HOME Van(ers): "The HOME Van can has caught the imagination of Gainesville by its originality and its open spirit of bringing donated supplies to many of the least fortunate in our town." What he failed to mention is that SFH donates some of the supplies they provide to the people. His failure to say this makes his motivations and statements very questionable.

It is not the new that must follow the old ways, but it's the established that must learn and obey the new ways or move on.

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