Cover Story

Home at Last: St. Patrick Center

Finding a job, supporting yourself, taking care of your health and family … all of these tasks can be challenging enough on their own. Now imagine trying to accomplish them without a permanent place to call home. That’s where St. Patrick Center steps in and changes the lives of thousands of homeless St. Louisans each year, according to chief executive officer Laurie Phillips.

The nonprofit helps clients break the cycle of homelessness by providing them with housing, case management, employment services, counseling and other critical assistance. It proudly promotes its mission through the annual St. Patrick Center Irish Open Gala and Golf Tournament, and this year, there is even more reason to celebrate. The organization has been helping St. Louisans gain a fresh start in life for 35 years, a special milestone for clients and staff.

The combined events make for an extended summer weekend of fundraising fun, according to development director Amanda Laumeyer. The gala takes place June 2 at St. Louis Union Station, and the golf tournament tees off June 4 at Norwood Hills Country Club. “The Irish Open is our longest-running fundraiser and largest event of the year,” Laumeyer says. “It has raised millions of dollars to support our mission of ending homelessness in St. Louis.” This year’s event chair is Joe Mooney, vice chair is Travis Sarich, and honorary chair is Frank Leta. They’ll join guests in enjoying the gala’s special dinner, auction, client success stories, and after-party with music and dessert. The golf event will feature lunch and dinner, a hospitality tent with games and tastings, and much more. World Wide Technology will receive the center’s 2018 Edith Cunnane Community Champion Award, and Patrick Quinn will be named the 2018 Leo Paradis Volunteer Champion. This year’s event theme is ‘There’s No Place Like Home,’ a nod to St. Patrick Center’s very reason for being.

“We have a holistic and personal approach to helping our clients,” Phillips says. “Homelessness ties them together, but the ways in which they got there can be very different. About 20 percent have been without homes for a long time and may have behavioral health or substance use issues, so they need a high level of support. The other 80 percent are ‘situationally homeless;’ they’ve had setbacks like job loss, health problems or financial hardship, and need temporary support to get on their feet again.” The center partners with about 300 area landlords to find good housing, and clients aren’t just handed a key to an apartment; they work with staff to find a location that fits their family, transportation and employment needs.

The center has some exciting future plans, too, according to Phillips. “About a year ago, we closed our McMurphy’s Cafe food service training program, but we are redesigning and restarting that initiative,” she notes. “We also plan to partner with local hospitals to help homeless ER patients get stable housing and regular medical providers. We have seen pilot programs for this around the country, and they’ve been very successful.”

Phillips and Laumeyer express deep gratitude for St. Louisans’ generosity toward St. Patrick Center. “It takes an enormous effort to see that our clients are housed and stable,” Phillips says. “Many may not be able to achieve that without our help, just like we would not be able to operate without the community’s support. Everyone who attends our events plays a major role in our success.”

St. Patrick Center is dedicated to ending the cycle of homelessness in St. Louis. Pictured on the cover: Michael Brown, Joe Mooney and Laurie Phillips at St. Louis Union Station. For more information about the center’s Irish Open Gala and Golf Tournament presented by the Frank Leta Automotive Family, call 314.802.1976 or visit stpatrickcenter.org.

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo by Tim Parker Photography

Pictured above: Golfers enjoy a day on the greens at the 2017 Irish Open.

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