As D-Day approaches, faster and faster it seems, our days are being filled with craziness and fun! About two and a half weeks ago, Saint Francis Inn hosted its 20-something Annual Block Party! The block party is an outdoor meal for the guests in which we close the street down, have the meal catered by Boston Market, and dance to the music of a priest-DJ all afternoon! For my first ever block party, it was incredible! I danced with guests and staff, doing the electric slide with Fr. Michael and Sr. Mary more times than I can possibly count! We served 516 people platters of roasted chicken, potato salad, corn bread, 2 cans of soda, and an ice cream sandwich! It was a great day and I'll surely be back next year!
As summer has hit, the heat is here to stay. I was hoping that heat wave from a few weeks ago was going to pass but it seems like Philadelphia holds heat better than anywhere I've ever been before! The guests are begging for deodorant and soap (soap is in great supply whereas deodorant, not so much) and I'm doing my best to accomodate their needs because when they smell, we smell them. June was a bit of a crazy month as far as numbers go, but we leveled off the last week with only one day over 400... not bad considering how long June seemed!
An update on our friend, Gary--- he seems a bit more docile these days and even managed to sweet-talk me into giving him some food at the gate. One of our favorite guests, Anibal, has gotten his hands on a recliner that he pushes all over Kensington. It has been the biggest joke of the last week or so to see Anibal with his recliner. His greeting of "Hello Miss America!" never gets old but his requests for his SSI checks each month tire us out, as no guests are allowed to receive checks at the Inn (for safety reasons for guests and staff). Despite our ongoing efforts to have his checks direct-deposited, every month we see Anibal's face and his check on the first of the month!
Emily, Maureen and I had the incredible pleasure of taking the women from the Women's Center to Clementon/Splash World Park... it's a small park in Clementon, NJ with some water rides. Sr. Xavier asked us to come along so we spent the day with some of the women from the Center. The women who go to the Women's Center are typically either active or recovering drug addicts, prostitutes, and many of which have dual diagnoses of addiction and mental illness. As I'm sure you can too, we could only imagine the trouble we were getting ourselves into with this. But the day went flawlessly and we ended up having more fun than we could've imagined with the ladies! They mostly kept their drug talk to a minimum, especially in public, and they managed to maintain somewhat civility throughout the day. It was incredible to see another aspect to these women, on a day when they have the day to enjoy themselves, to get out of the city, and to not worry about what could possibly happen to them that day.
I have begun mentoring two little girls, Bridget and Caroline (sisters, and if you've been to the Inn, you know who these girls are) for the last month or so that I am here. These girls are in desperate need of a positive female role model and for someone who doesn't succumb to their every want. I'm not really sure my efforts are fruitful yet, but I think it's going to be one of those "planting seeds" business that I heard so much in college. They are both beautiful, smart and funny little girls and I pray that their energies be used to get them out of Kensington. On all the occasions that I've spent time with the girls, they look to me and say, "Katelyn, this is the best day ever!" I just love them!
I have so much more to write, including our Six Flags adventure and some other crazy guests, but must be going now. Emily and I are heading to the shore today to soak up a day in the sun! I pray that you all are doing well! God bless!