Listening To A New Sound

For years, stability didn’t seem attainable to Roger. No matter where he went, running away from his childhood and joining the military, or starting a new life outside of Lancaster County, he couldn’t escape the same sound chasing him his whole life.

It was the sound of his mother’s voice, riddling him with self-doubt. “I heard it from my mother almost constantly, that I‘d never amount to anything, that I’d never be worth anything, I’d never be anything.” With all this noise in his head, roadblocks seemed insurmountable. Whenever something went wrong, he would hear her voice again, telling him he should just give up.

Life felt like running on a treadmill, always moving and not getting anywhere, as he lived paycheck to paycheck and fought to maintain housing. “It would stay stable for a while, start to look good,” Roger describes, “and then start to fall apart.”

Through classes and counseling, including his new music therapy class, Roger is learning to drown out the self-doubt by listening to a new sound. The voice of God saying “You are worth something.”

It wasn’t until some members of his church reached out and paved the way for him to come to Water Street that he began to hope things could be different. “I started getting the feeling that I was being guided here, that I was meant to come here for a reason,” he says.

Roger came to Water Street hoping to end the “dysfunction.” He was ready for change, digging into the Residential Program and unraveling everything he had been taught to believe about himself. One day in class he heard a challenge that stood out to him. “Ask God to show you a picture of His love,” the teacher encouraged. He pondered, what did it mean to be loved by God even while dealing with homelessness?

An answer came a few weeks later with a simple gift: a violin. Hearing he had a love of music, his counselor found him a refurbished instrument, as a way to help him manage anxiety. But to Roger, the gesture meant so much more. “Growing up I always played violin. And even though I could never read a lick of music and still can’t, just to create the music is relaxing,” he explains. “I could do nothing but bow my head and say thank you, Lord. Thank you.”

Through classes and counseling, including his new music therapy class, Roger is learning to drown out the self-doubt by listening to a new sound. The voice of God saying “You are worth something.” Despite the trauma and hardships he’s faced in the past, he is seeing God paint a new picture of His life, filling it with images of His love and understanding.

Realizing his own self-worth has helped Roger take on more responsibility and fight for the life he wants. Now, Roger is serving as a Dorm Monitor, caring for the other men on this floor at Water Street throughout all the difficulties this year has brought. He’s preparing for a new career where he can help other men overcome their past trauma and continuing to practice his violin, listening to the sound of God’s gift to him each day.


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