A Fresh Start Through Forgiveness

When Daniel first came to Water Street back in 2018, life had brought him to the brink. “I thought I was broken. I thought I was broken beyond repair. And I wasn’t ever going to be able to accomplish anything important. And that really weighed on me.” Little did he know then how much things would change.

It’s been over a year and a half since he left our residential program, and today, he is in a completely different place. Just this past spring Daniel graduated from HACC with an associate’s degree in Computer Science, fulfilling a dream he’s had for over 20 years.

But getting here took some time, and a few detours. Before coming to Water Street, Daniel had worked as the manager of a local Burger King for decades. Already working overtime when his health began to fail, he soon realized he could no longer keep up. The physical pain, what was later diagnosed as fibromyalgia, cost him his job. Soon he and his wife lost their home, and most painfully of all, custody of
their children. 

“Just this past spring Daniel graduated from HACC with an associate’s degree in Computer Science, fulfilling a dream he’s had for over 20 years.”

Facing so much loss, Daniel was overwhelmed with hopelessness. He came to Water Street thinking he had no future instore. But through the encouragement of staff, slowly but surely, he began to dig in. Overtime through classes, and opening up to his counselors, Daniel began to realize just how much fear had ruled his life.

Growing up in Lancaster outside of the church, he says his most memorable experiences with God were people telling him he was going to hell. This God, he believed, would never give him a second chance.

“It wasn’t until I got to Water Street Mission that I got the real message that that’s not what it’s about” he says. 

“It’s about how Jesus loves you so much that he sacrificed everything for you, in a way that no one else ever could. And it finally made sense, and it really changed my life.”

Forgiveness allowed Daniel to see himself in a whole new light. No longer alone, he found the strength to pick himself back up, and get back on his feet. That’s when it clicked, he could finally pursue his dream job.

Today, Daniel is hopeful, knowing he has a steady future for his family. Not only does his new career allow him to manage his physical pain, it’s reunited him with his family.

Over the last year, it’s been a process of gaining confidence, and unlearning bad habits. But now, Daniel says he is forgiven, and focusing on spreading that same forgiveness to his family and community. 

“I’m just so grateful for everything I’ve been given, from God, from Water Street, and from the people who are involved. I couldn’t have done any of it without you.”

He’s cherishing time with his wife and kids, and he’s already going on to get his bachelor’s at Millersville, only a few courses shy! “I’m just so grateful for everything I’ve been given, from God, from Water Street, and from the people who are involved. I couldn’t have done any of it without you.”

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An Update from Jack 5/4/2020

12/17/2020

Dear Friends,

Throughout this season, we have encountered a number of challenges in operating our shelter safely. Thankfully we have been blessed to see no community spread among our guests. This is due not only to the work of our team, but also the ways that upgrades to our facilities came at just the right time.

For example, Providence Shelter, which opened in November 2019, provides additional spacing and a top-tier air filtration system. We have also been able to implement the same air filtration standards in our dining hall prior to the most recent wave of COVID.

Because a high percentage of our guests have preexisting health conditions, we have had to be diligent in our safety protocols, doing our best to ensure their safety. For us that has included implanting all CDC disinfecting, masking and social distancing from the very beginning. This has led to major changes in roles and responsibilities of staff. Staff have taken over disinfecting in shifts all over campus. They have also delivered much of our support services and programs through zoom, hosting counseling sessions and classes virtually and meeting in-person with plexi-glass dividers only when necessary.

For meals, we’ve changed preparation and delivery to help minimize interaction of guests who live in different facilities. At times that has meant delivering meals to certain Residential Floors so we can keep smaller groups in the dining hall. We have also had to restrict guests’ travel on and off campus to only essential trips such as going to work, the doctors, shopping etc., in order to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Another change in this season has been how we do intakes. Currently, the intake process requires new guests to be tested for COVID-19. They await their test results in a separate temporary shelter we have set up, before entering Providence Emergency Shelter.

All of these changes have been made while severely limiting the number of volunteers on campus. At one point, all volunteering was completely put on hold. Now, we are running with a third of our normal volunteers.

And it’s been tiring, for both staff and guests. We have had times where many staff were working remotely due to their own health risks. Other times where staff or guests have been quarantined due to exposures. But even with all of the schedule changes, increased overtime, and cross-shift working, our team has done an amazing job persevering through all of the challenges.

What to Expect This Winter Typically we have over 200 total guests on campus, over 100 in our Residential Programs over and 100 in our Emergency Shelters. Although our Residential capacity remains about the same, we have had to reduce the available beds in Providence Shelter to ensure safe spacing overnight from about 75 to 55.

Winter always presents its own challenges, so we anticipate this year will be no different. Women in our Providence Shelter have moved over to the shelter at St. Mary’s across the street, run by the Lancaster Food Hub. During their stay there they have full access to all of our services, including showers, food and staff support. Not only does having women shift to St. Mary’s enable us to free up additional beds for men, it will help us keep the shelter populations separate and limit the risk of spread.

Thank You We have been so encouraged by the support we have received this year. Without a community coming around us and our guests, we would not be able to keep our guests safe and continue to guide them in their restoration journeys. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.

Jack Crowley

President