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Will You Take the Homeless for a Night Challenge?

Have you ever had to sleep in a car, a hotel room, or the house of a stranger for days? What if you suddenly found yourself on the street with no place to go?

For some of the people we serve at Room at the Inn, this has been a daily reality.

Some may have been sleeping in their car before coming here, but either way they all had to call the Housing Resource Center, sometimes for several days, waiting for space in a shelter to become available.

In observance of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (Nov. 16-24), we are inviting you to participate in our “Homeless for a Night” event, an evening where you can learn more about Room at the Inn’s mission of helping the homeless in St. Louis County and get a glimpse of what the shelter system is like for a person or family experiencing homelessness.

The event is two-part. Part I begins with a dinner at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at Room at the Inn, located at 3415 Bridgeland Dr. Bridgeton, MO 63044. Featured speakers include local experts on the topic of homelessness in our community.

“This event will give people an opportunity to better understand the challenges women and families are facing when they lose their home,” said Chris Hotard, Night Site Coordinator.

Part II is optional and begins after dinner. As many as 20 dinner guests can accept the “Homeless for a Night Challenge” by sleeping at Room at the Inn’s main hall (cots /mattresses and linens will be provided). More conversations

and activities will follow through the night. We have 50 seats available for dinner and 20 spots for those interested in staying overnight for our challenge.

Participants of the Homeless for a Night Challenge will enjoy breakfast in the morning and will greet our incoming clients at 8 a.m., Saturday.

Check out our other event for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: Strike Out Homelessness.

“National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is all about helping people to see beyond the stereotypes that come with homelessness,” Hotard said. “Because the sad truth is that every night, right here in St. Louis County, there are neighbors of ours who don’t have a home. There are men and women that are spending their days frantically making phone calls with the hope that their kids can have a roof over their heads for the night. This week is important because it  gives us an opportunity to tell our story and the stories of the people we serve-to help people understand that we can make a difference, even when dealing with issues as big and complicated as homelessness.”

For more information, or to sign up for dinner or the overnight of our Homeless for a Night Challenge, contact Chris Hotard by phone at 314-209-9198 ext 117 or by email at

About Room at the Inn: Sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence, Room at the Inn provides emergency shelter and a stabilizing support system to women and families in need in St. Louis County, using a collaborative, interfaith effort of congregations and organizations throughout the St. Louis Region.

Summer Day Trips with Kira

“Creating family memories is important, even when a family is homeless,” says Kira Williams, the children’s therapist for Room at the Inn.

This summer, Kira is taking Room families on a series of day trips during the summer to local attractions such as the Zoo, Grant’s Farm, the Science Center and the movies as an enrichment activity. Room has a small budget for the program. Kira has organized similar trips for summer camps for Catholic Charities before she transferred to her current position. Her first trip for Room was to Kokomo Joe’s in St. Peters, a family recreation center with go karts, bumper cars, inflatables and more.

“We definitely had fun. If I had to say what attraction the kids liked best, it would be the go karts,” says Kira. “Three Room families were able to go. All of the kids gave it a ‘thumb’s up’ and they thanked me in unison. All that matters to me is they had a good time.”

Kira feels it is important for children to have something to look forward to. The kids were told about the trip ahead of time, so they were excited to have a day out with their family.  One child even bought a small gift with her game tickets for another child who could not attend the trip because of summer school so she would be a part of the experience.

“Play therapy is an important part of what I do with Room clients. Play is a child’s language,” explains Kira. “It’s also good for adults to embrace their inner child. During our trip, I heard one of the moms cheer, ‘Yes! I just won 45 tickets!’ I thought that was wonderful. It’s why these trips are so important. The moms don’t have to worry about the cost or transportation. All they have to do is just enjoy the day with their kids.”

Program Director Valorie Ferlis also recognizes the importance of giving Room clients a sense of normalcy and a chance to distress.

“Often times, clients come to us feeling depressed, overwhelmed and stressed out over their housing situation. That feeling is intensified when they have children depending on them,” says Val. “Just having a chance to go somewhere off-site with their family to do something ‘fun’ can really lift spirits and boost self-esteem. There were a lot of smiles when they came back to our shelter that day and that’s what these trips are all about.”

If you or your company can help our summer day trip budget “go farther” by donating tickets or providing a discounted admission to local attractions, please contact Program Director Valorie Ferlis at 314-209-9198. On our day trip “wish list” are places like the Magic House, City Museum and Aquaport. Such donations may be tax-deductible, too!

Room Selected as Vinson Mortgage’s June Charity of Choice

Go See Ray!

“I started working at Vinson Mortgage as a loan officer two months ago and read about their monthly charity program in their newsletter. I asked Director of Marketing Amy Brindisi what I needed to do to submit Room at the Inn for consideration,” recalls Room Board Member Randy Wollenberg. “When she told me they picked Room to be the Charity of Choice in June, I was surprised and delighted!”

A household name in the St. Louis area for more than 20 years, Ray Vinson, CEO, and Shawn Vinson, President, are not only committed to providing the very best mortgage experience for their customers but also to giving back to the community.

“Vinson Mortgage has been selecting a Charity of Choice each month for about a year and half now. This is the first time a homeless shelter has been chosen,” says Amy Brindisi. “A portion of the proceeds we receive from all mortgages closed in June will go to Room at the Inn. Each Charity of Choice is also featured in our monthly media advertising, which can really help promote their cause and mission to a wider audience.”

Room will be featured in all Vinson Mortgage radio ads, which air on several stations, a 30-second PSA on KSDK Newschannel 5 and on a “Show Me St. Louis” segment with Ray Vinson in June. The PSA was shot on Wednesday, May 29 at the KSDK studios with Program Director Valorie Ferlis. Photos of the shoot are posted on our Facebook page here.

“Ray was very intrigued by how we provide shelter through our interfaith network of nearly 60 participating congregations,” says Valorie. “It is encouraging to know that business leaders like Ray and Shawn Vinson recognize the important work being done by charitable organizations in the St. Louis area.  Through their support, Vinson Mortgage is demonstrating the importance of collaboration and engagement throughout the public and private sectors in response to community needs and issues.”

Ray and Shawn Vinson will also make the check presentation to Room in July after the loans have closed. Randy, who has served on Room’s Board for more than three years, is proud to be working with Vinson professionals who believe in supporting small, local charities like Room.

“Ray is so much a part of the St. Louis community and has helped numerous nonprofits through his monthly charity program,” says Randy. “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Vinson Mortgage for selecting Room. It is truly an honor.”

You can find out more about Vinson Mortgage and the Charity of Choice program by visiting or by calling 314-839-9999. A proceed of all loans closed in June will go to Room at the Inn so please share this information with your contacts to help promote this wonderful program.

2013 Breakfast with the INN Crowd

Room at the Inn, a temporary emergency shelter for women and families in St. Louis County, will host its fifth annual Breakfast with the INN Crowd on Friday, April 19, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel. Tickets are $35 per person. All proceeds will benefit the homeless of St. Louis County who find shelter at Room at the Inn.

In addition to breakfast, the event will include silent and oral auctions. The Master of Ceremonies will be Randy Karraker, veteran St. Louis broadcaster, 101 ESPN Radio.

Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel
9801 Natural Bridge Road
St. Louis, MO 63134

For more information, to register or purchase tickets, contact Colleen Price at 314-209-9181 or You can also purchase tickets online using our secure cart by clicking here.

Sponsorship Opportunities

You can help plant the seeds of success for our homeless clients by becoming a Breakfast with the INN Crowd sponsor to publicize your business, underscore your values and help create a stronger community for us all. All sponsors will also be listed in Room at the Inn’s newsletter, which is mailed to more than 2,000 supporters of Room at the Inn.

Please click here to learn more about our Sponsorship Opportunities.

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