The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With Just One Step
February 11, 2009
Mercy Haven, Inc., Celebrates Graduation of Fourth Series of Homeless Outreach Program
(Bay Shore, N.Y.) Mercy Unto Thousands, a community-based outreach and educational program provided by Mercy Haven, Inc., successfully completed the fourth series of its Breakthrough sessions in Bay Shore, NY. This is the second graduation to have taken place at St. Patrick’s RC Church in Bay Shore. The intent of the program, replicated from a successful NYC program established by the Interfaith Assembly of Homelessness and Housing, helps to provide the tools of empowerment for the homeless, one community at a time.
On the evening of February 5th 2009, at St. Patrick’s RC Church on Main Street in Bay Shore, Mercy Haven, Inc. celebrated the graduation of 12 dedicated participants from its Mercy Unto Thousands Breakthrough Program. This group, the second to have graduated within Bay Shore, consisting of both men and women from the community who are currently or have experienced homelessness, was honored for their successful completion of the 12-week program. Janice A., a volunteer who has been a mentor for the last two sessions of the program, spoke to the audience of over 60 individuals, from all walks of life, about her experience:
“I think that many people have this idea that a person who is homeless is this person sitting on a street corner with all their belongings at their feet, while in fact, quite often, this is not the case. In fact, it could be anyone: It could be the person sitting next to you at the library, standing next to you on line at the supermarket, or someone just walking ahead of you down the street, looking like they have someplace to go.”
During the ceremony, each program participant was called up one by one to receive a personalized, framed certificate. The graduates also spoke to the audience, offering many words of gratitude to the volunteers and program mentors for their patience, hard work, dedication and support. Most significantly, the graduates expressed their appreciation for being treated like human beings, and for being given a chance at making their lives better.
After the graduation, all persons in attendance enjoyed a delicious meal cooked by volunteers from Suffolk Community College’s Culinary Arts Program of Riverhead and served by representatives from Team – State Bank of Long Island. The 12 participants were clearly empowered by the program as they openly shared the strength the program has given them and the doors it has already begun to open; while the journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step, they all know that by participating in Breakthrough, they are treading in the right direction.
Currently, Mercy Haven is working to organize the next sessions of Mercy Unto Thousands, to take place again in the Bay Shore community at St. Patrick’s RC Church. If you are interested in organizing meals, mentoring, or donating your time in some way, please call the Mercy Haven main office at (631) 277-8300.
Established in 1985, Mercy Haven, Inc. is a non-sectarian, not-for-profit 501(c) (3) corporation. Mercy Haven’s mission is to engage and support Long Island’s most at-risk residents. Through advocacy, housing, supportive services, education and outreach we offer the community a place to experience and practice compassion. http://www.mercyhaven.org/
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