Category Archives: News

An Inspiring Breakfast with the INN Crowd

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” was the theme of our fourth annual Breakfast with the INN Crowd on Friday, April 20. Our friends and partners who contributed their time, talents and treasure over the past several months to the Breakfast certainly embraced this inspiring quote by Mahatma Ghandi. Their efforts lead to the success of the morning fundraiser for which nearly 400 people were in attendance.

Serving as emcee this year was veteran St. Louis television personality, Patrick Murphy, vice president of production for KETC Channel 9. Once again we were honored to have Steve Rupp, director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and vice president of Missouri Right to Life, as our auctioneer.

The program consisted of a new video featuring our night sites volunteers and what serving the homeless in their community means to them and their congregations. Former clients Errol and Anna Moruzzi also spoke on how they have become self-sufficient since their stay at Room at the Inn.

A new feature this year was the Purse Boutique. A lattice wall displayed “quirky” purses for sale at $20 each. Each purse contained a gift certificate worth at least $10 and one contained a gift certificate worth $100. Making a return appearance was the popular Wishing Wall decorated with colorful labels listing “wish” items representing everyday shelter needs and volunteer opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of Breakfast attendees, both the Purse Boutique and the Wishing Wall were sold out by end of the event.

The highlight of the live auction was the beautiful Cardinals quilt, created especially for this year’s Breakfast by the talented quilting ladies of Eliot Unitarian Chapel. They were in attendance as Steve Rupp auctioned off the one-of-a-kind quilt for $2,000.

The fund-a-need oral auction proceeds will help clients directly through the purchase of bus passes, additional night shelter over the 30 days funding that St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund provides for children and gasoline for the program’s van. The 50/50 drawing successfully raised $810 for Room at the Inn. Other auction proceeds, ticket and ad sales and sponsorships will support our general fund.

This success would not have been possible without the efforts of so many dedicated people willing to be the change. We are thankful to our committee members, volunteers, donors, solicitors, advertisers, sponsors and bidders. Because of you, Breakfast with the INN Crowd again received an increase in total donations to help shelter clients this year. Thank you for being the change in the lives of the homeless in our community.

Welcoming New Board Members

Room at the Inn has two new members on the board of directors – Beth Damsgaard-Rodriguez and Sheroo Mukhtiar. They attended their first meeting on Monday, January 23 and we welcome them on board!

Beth (far right in photo) is an interfaith consultant and has a bachelor of the arts in human services.  Beth also serves as a board member of International Partners in Missions, as a convener of the Metro St. Louis Advisory Council of International Partners in Mission and is a member of the Multicultural Leadership Roundtable.  Her background is in community development and Beth enjoys working in the interfaith community.

“I wanted to serve on Room at the Inn’s board because of the shelter’s approach to addressing homelessness in a compassionate manner. The program is tailored to meet the specific needs of each family to make a very real and lasting change,” explains Beth. “The focus on quality and not quantity is important in dealing with such a complex issue as homelessness.”

Sheroo (far left in photo) is a non-profit administrator and has a master of the arts in social work, specializing in both children and youth services and non-profit management. Sheroo also serves as the executive director of Springboard and as an advisory board member of Gateway Homeless Services. She has been a non-profit administrator for more than 18 years and is familiar with fundraising, board development, program development, strategic planning and marketing/communications.

“I have been involved with services for the homeless population for a number of years now,” says Sheroo. “Being in a position to continue supporting a cause that serves homeless individuals and families, providing hope and making a difference is very important to me.”

Room at the Inn board members serve a three year term, up to three terms. We look forward to the contributions and expertise both Beth and Sheroo will bring to the board and to Room at the Inn.

Visiting Another “Room at the Inn”

Wow! Another Room at the Inn … except it’s called Johnson County Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN).

That thought took Program Director Joann Nowak, O.S.F. to Olathe, Kan., on January 13th to look at another shelter who also collaborates with faith-based congregations and organizations to help the homeless. Sister Joann and IHN Director Vicki L. Dercher (pictured right in photo) were energized by their conversations and struck by the similarities between their programs. Both are challenged by the increase of people seeking help and the need for additional night sites. They recognized the value of the volunteers who display unconditional love to clients while at the night sites. Most importantly, they both felt privileged to be associated with such a network that connects people in need with people who want to help.

They also noted several differences between INH and Room at the Inn models:

  • IHN congregations take clients for a week at a time, about every ten weeks. Room at the Inn congregations usually host one night a month, sometimes more.
  • IHN arranges for drivers to transport clients to and from the night sites. Room at the Inn asks the congregations to provide their own drivers.
  • IHN has two paid staff members. Room at the Inn has four full-time and one part-time staff members.
  • IHN has a capacity of 14 clients while Room can accommodate 20 clients.
  • Johnson County IHN is a member of Family Promise, which sets standards for all IHN’s.  Room at the Inn is similar to the IHN model but is independent and under the sponsorship of the Sisters of Divine Providence.
  • IHN primarily takes families; however, when there are openings, single women are accepted.  Room at the Inn shelters mostly women, single or with children, but will accommodate dads with children and married couples, if needed.

Besides her conversations with IHN’s director and administrative assistant, Sister Joann also visited night site Knox Presbyterian Church, who was hosting the IHN clients that week.

“I really enjoyed the trip. It was an enriching experience to share ideas on how people can respond to the needs of the homeless in their communities,” shares Sister Joann. “At the end of my visit, there was talk about IHN coming to visit Room at the Inn, which would be wonderful!”

To learn more about the Johnson County Interfaith Hospitality Network, please visit their website at www.jocoihn.org.

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