by Dennis Dalman
“Chad’s Wing” at Place of Hope in St. Cloud is badly in need of restoration, but it will take at least $5,000 to do the job. At Place of Hope, temporary homes, meals and other resources are provided for people who are down on their luck for one reason or another.
To help create Chad’s Wing, the Y2K Lions in St. Joseph will host two brat sales this weekend – from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29 and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30 right outside the St. Joseph Meat Market, 26 1st Ave. NW in downtown St. Joseph. People who come to the brat sale are requested to bring along old pairs of eyeglasses, hearing aids and cell phones so the Lions can give them to those in need.
The Y2K Lions became involved in “Chad’s Wing” partly because it’s named after Chad Boeckers, who suffered mental-illness issues that led to his tragic death in 2006. His parents, Ralph and Jan Boecker of St. Joseph, gave a generous donation recently to create Chad’s Wing at Place of Hope. The Boeckers hope to help others who are suffering from mental illness or other problems.
Chad’s Wing is being developed on what is the third floor of Place of Hope at 511 9th Ave. N. in St. Cloud, a building that used to be the St. Rafael’s Retirement Home and Hospital. Currently, some of the rooms on that floor are used to house homeless people with mental-health problems, but the rooms are mostly bare and shabby with worn-out flooring. The entire third floor, in fact, is in a depressed state. Most of all, it needs new flooring – either carpeting, tile or wood-laminate, according to Pastor Carol Smith, who operates Place of Hope with her husband, Pastor Geary Smith.
The Smiths hope to install new flooring, paint all the rooms and put cheerful shades and curtains on all the windows of Chad’s Wing. The third floor consists of a common area (large day room); a communal bathroom, showers, toilets; and 18 bedrooms. There are 32 windows in Chad’s Wing. Place of Hope has started an “Adopt a Window” program, at $45 per window, for curtains, curtain rods and blinds.
Also needed to spruce up the place are pillows, quilts, twin sheet sets, dressers, area rugs for each room and decorations (such as artwork for the walls). The Smiths are also keeping an eye out for the donation of furniture for the day room, which measures about 35 x 18 feet.
Currently, Place of Hope is a temporary home for 35 people, with men on one floor and women and children on another. All are homeless, suffer from mental-illness issues or are struggling with chemical and/or alcohol problems.
“We are hoping to finish the project in early October,” said Pastor Carol Smith, “but realistically it probably won’t be done until sometime in November.”
Already, some of the rooms have been painted in cheerful colors – yellows, greens and blues – blue being Chad’s favorite color.
Smith is a firm believer that bright, cheerful, homey surroundings have a very positive and long-term beneficial effect on the moods of people who live in them. That is why she and her husband are determined to make Chad’s Wing bright, comfortable, cheery and welcoming – so important for people who may be feeling “down” when they arrive at Place of Hope.
To donate to the Chad’s Wing project, go to the following website: www.placeofhopeministries.org and donate online. Donations can also be sent via postal mail to Place of Hope, 511 9th Ave. N., St. Cloud, MN 56303. Be sure to put “Chad’s Wing” on the memo line of the check as well as on the outside of the envelope. For those who want to donate in person, they can go to Place of Hope or bring donated items there.
Its hours are 9 a.m-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Donations via credit card can be accepted over the phone. Call 320-203-7881.
For the background of Place of Hope, see related story in today’s paper.
This is one of the stark, nearly empty rooms of Chad’s Wing at Place of Hope. There is an effort now underway to make the rooms look inviting and comfortable for the homeless people who need them temporarily.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.