Johns Hopkins Gazette: November 28, 1994

Program Helps Women Adjust to Life Outside Homeless Community
By Christine Rowett

     At My Sister's Place, volunteer companions act as mentors to
mentally ill homeless women who are close to finding permanent
     "One of the effects of mental illness is that you lose
social skills," explained the Rev. Tom Bonderenko, administrator
of food and shelter programs for Catholic Charities, which
operates the daytime drop-in center. "We link up one woman in the
community with one woman who has mental illness so they have
someone to talk to. They can learn to trust."
     There are currently 12 mentors participating in the Compeer
Program, which was established to help women readjust to life
outside the homeless community.
     "We use the program to reconnect them with the community,"
Bonderenko said. "The success of the program is that they keep
contact with their mentor."
     The Compeer Program is just one facet of My Sister's Place,
the Mulberry Street center that opens its doors each day at 9
a.m. and closes them at 4 p.m. On average, between 40 and 50
guests go to the center daily to use laundry and shower
facilities and talk with caseworkers.
     Catholic Charities, which also operates 26 other programs
throughout Maryland, is one of more than 115 service agencies
that will benefit from Hopkins' United Way contributions.
     My Sister's Place has been in operation for about 10 years,
and the center is open every day of the year including all
holidays. In the afternoon when it closes, some of the guests go
stay with friends or relatives, Bonderenko said.
     "Many of them go to shelters," he said. "Some just wander
the streets." 
     The affiliated My Sister's Place Lodge does provide housing
for homeless women with chronic mental illness.
     The agency has a staff of seven full-time employees and a
network of about 30 volunteers, who welcome the guests and offer
them coffee or a chance to talk.
     Bonderenko said there is no shortage of guests at the
center, and volunteers are always welcome.
     "There are greater needs than there are resources," he said.
"That can get discouraging."
     In another part of the United Way campaign, the third and
final lottery open to university employees who pledged $35 or
more was held last week.
     James A. Fill at the School of Engineering won the first
prize: one night for two at the Cross Keys Inn. The second prize
of dinner and a show for two at Toby's Dinner Theatre was won by
Charles R. O'Melia, also at the School of Engineering. 
     James Martino at the School of Arts and Sciences garnered
the third prize of dinner and a show for one at the Towsontown
Musical Dinner Theatre.
     The fourth prize of two tickets to the Baltimore Symphony
Orchestra went to Ann G. Prime-Monaghan at the School of
Continuing Studies. And Elliot R. McVeigh at the School of
Medicine won the fifth prize of a $50 gift certificate to
Radebaugh and Sons Florists.
     All the lottery prizes were donated by suppliers. The three
contests were held to encourage early participation in the

     University staff and faculty have reached 86.9 percent 
of their goal, pledging $482,934. The hospital has raised
$175,991. APL has raised $329,103.

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