Determined To Change

John came to Water Street thinking he would get in, get what he needed, and get out. “My plan at the time was I’ll go, get warm, get some food, get a job, and go back to what I was doing.” Little did he know it would turn into so much more.

At a young age, John’s family looked normal from the outside. His father ran a paint company and they were well off. But life inside his house told a different story. He faced sexual abuse by his father, and if that wasn’t hard enough, John went through a fatal car accident in high school which killed his best friend. At 16, John tried cocaine for the first time. “I was in love from day one,” he describes. From there his battle with drug addiction began, going to rehab five times, and struggling to stay clean.

John came to Water Street looking for a quick fix. Now he’s determined to see life change that lasts.

One day, when his housing situation fell apart, John was approached by the police for living in his car. He reluctantly agreed to give Water Street a try. “My plan wasn’t good but if it wouldn’t have been for the police officer suggesting it, I would have never ended up here.”

Being at Water Street led John one day to chapel, and after that onto the chapel stage. “They say God put me on stage. I didn’t do it. I don’t remember walking up there. It was time,” he explains. John gave his life over to Christ in that moment, and felt a wave of grace and relief suddenly flow over him. “I spent thousands of dollars on rehabs and medications, psychiatrists and all this stuff and I’m thinking, it was that easy.”

From there John says, “I really turned myself into the program.” Since coming to Water Street he has found the space and support to work through his pain, finding trauma counselors and classes that help him through those feeling of shame and guilt that plagued his past.

He has always been a hard worker, putting in the time and effort, and now that same dedication he is putting back into his own restoration. Even COVID-19 hasn’t knocked him off course. “I haven’t stopped” he says. “You got to apply yourself and put yourself into it. Every day I get better. It’s been amazing.” John came to Water Street looking for a quick fix. Now he’s determined to see life change that lasts.

Thanks to support from people like you, John and other Water Street guests are still determined, working hard, and growing each day! Thank you!


An Update from Jack 5/4/2020


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