Friday, September 16, 2005

Pacific Garden Mission & Katrina Victims


It's Doors Have Never Closed Since 1877, More Than 46,750 Consecutive Days, A period Spanning 25 Presidential Administrations

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service, PO Box 2126, Garden Grove, CA 92842-2126 USA
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (ANS) -- It's doors haven't closed even once since September 15, 1877 -- over 46,750 consecutive days-- a period spanning last 25 presidential administrations. (Pictured: Pacific Garden Mission facilities prior to major additions).

In that time the Pacific Garden Mission has cared for homeless people of all races, creeds, and national origin on a non-discriminatory basis from its first day.

No one is ever turned away. Its doors are open day and night, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have been open non-stop since September 15, 1877, an unbroken string of over 46,750 consecutive days, a period spanning the terms of 25 US presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to George W. Bush.

Now, as it marks its 128th Anniversary, the Pacific Garden Mission has opened its doors to a number of homeless victims of Hurricane Katrina at its 646 S. State Street location in Chicago.

"So far, we are caring for about eight men from Louisiana and Mississippi, and we expect the number to increase as more homeless arrive in Chicago," according to Phil Kwiatkowski, Director of Ministry Services.

David McCarrell, Pacific Garden Mission’s Director, states, "It is noteworthy that we are receiving needy people from far outside of Chicago as we mark our 128th anniversary and are planning a new, larger facility.

"Hurricane victims have much in common with Chicago's homeless…though their condition was caused by a single weather-related event, those we care for every day are homeless due to any number of circumstances including job loss, illness, domestic violence, and lack of affordable housing. Not all of them are unemployed, in fact many have attended high school and college. Each one is our neighbor and our mission is to care for them all."

Mr. McCarrell continued: "When we move to our brand new state-of-the-art facility at 14th and Canal Streets in 2007, we will increase our capacity and have all our services under one roof. Currently, women and children are cared for at a separate facility on Grand Avenue. (Pictured Pacific Garden Mission new facilities).

"People are surprised to hear that in the past year we served 803,000 meals [2200 each day] and provided 227,760 shelter days [624 each day]. We also distribute tons of clothing each year. In any given month, the mission distributes approximately 51,000 items of clothing and provides free medical and dental care to approximately 500 people.

"To many, we are a springboard, a place where they can get back on their feet. We provide programs for rehabilitation, one-on-one counseling, GED and other educational assistance, computer courses, and life skills training courses which help them create a resume, balance a checkbook, set goals, and manage their lives. All of this fits right in with Mayor Daley’s plan to end homelessness in Chicago."

McCarrell stressed: "We are not a soup kitchen, but a comprehensive care facility which addresses physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Chicago has benefited greatly from such comprehensive care…all provided by the generosity of the private sector."

He added: "There are some exciting things on the horizon as we develop plans for our new building. A Building Fund has been established and, in the coming months, Chicago will see some exciting opportunities for businesses, schools, churches and individuals to get involved."
For more information or to donate, contact Pacific Garden Mission at 312/922-1462 or visit

Contact: Tony Rufo

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