by Deacon Michael J. Oles
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
Our parish has several consistent homeless people who are hospitable and thoughtful – I converse with all who I see and I enjoy their understanding of the Kingdom of God. We all know that there are many homeless throughout the world. This book introduces one way that people in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and California are already helping individuals and families move Off the Streets and into the homes of their own. We share our story with the hope that when you see how easy it is, you will be inspired to start a chapter of Off the Streets in your own community.
Off the Streets (OTS) is a 501c (3) nonprofit charitable organization registered with the IRS and with the states of Connecticut, Pennsylvania and California, so far. Its mission is to provide a security deposit and basic furniture and living needs for those homeless people who have no other means of providing these but do have a means of paying a monthly rent. The homeless person finds a place he or she can afford. OTS then pays the security deposit directly to the landlord (Repayment is not expected but, when it occurs, the money is used to pay other security deposits.) No government finding is taken, There are no paid staff, no professional fundraisers, no offices, and no utilities to pay. All furniture and other living needs are donated.
OTS was started as a faith-based organization by a Roman Catholic deacon, members of the parish he served and members of other Christian churches in the community. This faith based approach is reflected in this book. Such motivation is not, however, a requirement. We are fortunate to face a fast and effective way to get people with a source of income out of homelessness and into housing. Your motivation may be different, yet the result can be the same people moved quickly Off the Streets and into homes of their own.
This book Off the Streets began with faith in God, and it continues with faith in God. OTS works because the members of the OTS team accept the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit: courage, right judgment, wisdom, wonder and awe, understanding, knowledge, and reverence. The actions resulting from these gifts are signs of the presence and power of God acting in and through the lives of the members of an OTS team. Every person with whom we interact- fellow members of the team, other caregivers, homeless persons, our benefactor, and all those with whom we come in contact should see us as simply implementing the gifts we have been given by God for His greater glory. Rather than be praised for our actions, we would rather be thankful that God has allowed us to be instruments of His Will. It is with this understanding that we undertake the awesome challenge of trying to assist those in greatest need, the homeless, armed with little more than our unshakeable faith in God. Every time we meet as members of the OTS team, we should remind ourselves, through prayer, of the utmost respect we have for the dignity of every human life. Thid id s thoughtful and grace-filled book that all can learn from.