True spirit of holiday celebrated at St. Francis House

Area homeless feted with food, phone calls

Boston, MA -- For the third year in a row, the spirit of giving will be the focus of a special day for guests of the St. Francis House, a shelter for the city's poor and homeless, on Thursday, December 11.
 
The day will begin for the St. Francis House guests with a holiday breakfast, from 7:30 until 9:00. A special aspect of the meal is that it will be served by executives from Boston-area corporations. Larry Uhl, Vice President Au Bon Pain, Foster Macrides, Vice President Cumberland Farms, Barbara Stern, Vice President and Helen Bowitch, Director of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, among other concerned business leaders will be serving meals, clearing tables and scrubbing pots and pans.
 
From 8:00 through 3:00 something magical will be happening: St. Francis House will be filled with the sounds of guests re-connecting with their friends and loved ones--through free cellular phone calls courtesy of Bell Atlantic Mobile. "It's just not possible to calculate how the poor and homeless we serve value being able to speak with loved ones at the holidays," says Jayne Novotny, St. Francis House, Director of Development.
 
As Novotny points out, homeless people lose contact with family and friends due to lack of funds to call them. Reconnecting by phone can restore hope and a sense of belonging.
 
Bell Atlantic Mobile makes it possible for St. Francis House guests to celebrate the holiday with anyone they hold dear, by phoning anywhere in the world.
 
In previous years through the help of the Holiday Phone Home program some homeless have returned to their families. Last year a young woman used the program to call her parents in the Midwest, the first time she had spoken with them since living on the streets. Her parents convinced her to return home to live with them.
 
Wrapping up the holiday events at the St. Francis House will be... gift wrapping. Fifteen members of the Eagle Corps Volunteers, of the BankBoston, will be putting the finishing touches on Christmas gifts for St. Francis House guests at a wrapping party, from 9:30 until noon.
 
The Holiday Phone Home program at St. Francis House is part of Bell Atlantic Mobile's "Wireless at Work" program, a national community outreach initiative designed to bring the benefits of wireless technology to those most in need. This year, in the Boston area, the company has donated cellular phones, pagers and voice mail boxes valued at $40,000 to homeless shelters, police departments, neighborhood watch groups and, through the Mass Coalition of Battered Women's Services, to all the domestic violence shelters in the state.
 
Since 1984 St. Francis House has met the basic needs of the homeless by providing hot meals and sandwiches to an average of 500 needy people every day. St. Francis House also offers medical and dental care, clothing services and comprehensive support services such as counseling, case management, advocacy, referral services, employment and housing assistance.
 
St. Francis House is located at 39 Boylston Street (near Tremont Street) in downtown Boston.
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