Important Update on the Transitional Shelter for Asylum Seekers

Dear Parishioners, 
 
What follows is an update on the transitional housing for asylum seekers at the St. Edmund School building. The update is provided by Jack Crowe, parishioner and Board Member for the Oak Park Family Transition Center. As we learn more about the preparation work and operations of the shelter, we will be sure to share it with you. Thank you for your unwavering support as we continue to help those who need us. 
 
Fr. Carl Morello
Pastor
 
 
 
Febraury 16, 2024
 
You have likely heard the exciting news that last night the Village of Oak Park agreed to open a transitional shelter at the St. Edmund School building for approximately 100 newly arrived asylum  seekers beginning around March 1 until June 30, 2024. The shelter’s residents will be families, approximately 60 adults and 40 children, currently staying at the West Suburban YMCA and The Carlteon Hotel.

The shelter will be operated for the Village of Oak Park by the Oak Park Family Transitional  Center. This is an entity operated by West Side Service Connector, an Illinois not-for-profit and  501c3 created for service outreach in response to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Renew My Church  Initiative for the Oak Park Catholic Parishes.

Jack Crowe will be the unpaid Executive Director of the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter. The board members are local parishioners Kenna MacKinnon, Dan Doody and Jack Crowe. The Archdiocese of Chicago, as landlord, required that a separate corporate entity such as this operate the shelter. The shelter will reside in the same building with the Migrant Ministry which has been distributing clothing as well as offering meals, English classes, medical services, and pastoral care. This important volunteer-driven ministry also aids in finding permanent housing. The Migrant Ministry and the new shelter will have opportunities to collaborate as we move forward.

Finally, the West Side Service Connector has a separate business operation called The Neighborhood Bridge that is focused on connecting residents of the West Side to high quality social service  providers in Oak Park and Austin with an initial focus on serving local school children and their families. Its work is separate from the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter and the Migrant Ministry.

We will keep you updated as we move along. Thank you for your ongoing support as we provide assistance to this humanitarian crisis.
 
February 3, 2024 Update
 
Dear Parishioners,

This following letter was sent out to the parish over the weekend via a special e-News. Many of you learned   of the news from the media before we had an opportunity to communicate this information to you. We apologize for this occurrence as we are working diligently to ensure you stay informed on key parish happenings. Unfortunately, by the time we were notified the media had already received the news as there are multiple organizations involved which have their own communications teams. As we move forward, new developments will be shared with you as information becomes available. We thank you for your understanding and appreciate your support as we work together to help with this humanitarian crisis.

 

Feruary 3, 2024

On Friday, February 2, 2024, the Village of Oak Park was notified that it was awarded $1.9 million in funding from the Supporting Municipalities for Asylum Seeker Services. Approximately $1.24 million of those funds would be used specifically to operate a temporary shelter in the St. Edmund School building located at 200 South Oak Park Avenue. The funding will cover all costs to operate the shelter which, if the lease is approved by the AOC, would begin on March 1 and extend for four months. A newly-formed not-for-profit that was part of the RMC initiative is overseeing this project. The temporary shelter will be used to provide housing for some of the asylum seekers, mostly families and women with children, currently staying at the Carleton Hotel and the West Suburban YMCA as housing ends on February 29.

 
The St. Edmund School building is also the home of the Migrant Ministry, a collaboration of the Oak Park Catholic Parishes and operated by volunteers from all faiths. The Migrant Ministry, led by parishioners Celine and Don Woznica along with a dedicated leadership team, has supported thousands of migrants over the last six months with clothing, English classes, long-term housing, legal assistance, access to health care, food, and pastoral services. The Migrant Ministry will continue to operate out of the school building and will share the space.
 
While many details remain to determined, we realize that without our support, the asylum seekers will be forced to return to shelters in the city. Fr. Carl Morello, Pastor of the Oak Park Catholic Parishes, said, “Our hearts are with the newly-arrived asylum seekers including the many children now attending school in Oak Park who have been facing uncertainty about their housing. While we still have lots of work to do to make a shelter a reality, I trust in the good work of the many volunteers and other supporters who are welcoming these good people in need.”
 
Parishioner, Jack Crowe, has been working behind the scenes with a team of volunteers putting together a plan for a transitional shelter to address this emergency. He said, “with this news, our not-for-profit will begin working on the next steps, the first of which is negotiating a lease with the Archdiocese of Chicago which owns the property. We are moving forward on our plan with urgency to meet the immediate needs of the many asylum seeking families. With this funding, we believe we can make progress on addressing their top needs: jobs, more permanent housing and legal assistance.”
 
As this important outreach endeavor moves along, regular updates will be shared as progress is made.
 

The Migrant Ministry 
 
The St. Edmund Center in Oak Park Provides Services for the Migrants
View the YouTube Video below
 
Recently the Migrant Ministry was  featured in a news story about the Catholic Community of Oak Park's migrant ministry. 
 
 
Visit the Amazon wish list (you can use it as a guide) to purchase something on your own.  https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3VKSYQWISEBOM?ref_=wl_share.
 
You can make a financial donation. Please make mention that the donation is for the Migrant Ministry. Donations can be left at either office location, mailed in, or placed in the offertory basket. You can also make a donation online via Give Central by clicking here: https://www.givecentral.org/location/580.
If you are interested in volunteering for our Migrant Ministry, please contact us at                 [email protected]
  
Are You Interested in Volunteering?
 
If you are interested in volunteering for our Migrant Ministry, please contact us at [email protected]. Donations to support our ministry can be sent to Ascension and St. Edmund Parish. Please note the Migrant Ministry on your check. Donations may also be made online through the Ascension and St. Edmund Give Central page https://www.givecentral.org/location/580.
 
If you would like to support our ministry, here is a link to an Amazon Wish List that we developed. You do not need to order the items from Amazon. It is just a list of things we need.  https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3VKSYQWISEBOM?ref_=wl_share.
 
ONLINE ITEMS DONATIONS – AMAZON WISH LIST click HERE to Donate through the Amazon website
 
The Amazon Wish List contains items in greatest demand by the migrants who are not used to cold weather and receive little assistance for their physical needs in the city-run shelters. The items listed are suggestions; you do not need to buy from Amazon.