Welcome to The Stewpot

"We Serve Second Chances"

Here at the Stewpot we provide an expansive portfolio of services to aid our neighbors who are experiencing and at-risk of homelessness. While our services are vast, we are still most well-known for our meal services which provided the initial foundation upon which all subsequent services have been built.

 Since May 2008, The Stewpot has been providing meal services at The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center in the Second Chance Café, serving upwards of 1,000 individuals 3 meals per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year. Our unofficial motto “We serve second chances” has paved the way not only for the way we approach our meal services, but carries throughout all facets of our organization and through the ways in which we care for our clientele.

In a recent Stewpot staff roundtable discussion, Cindy Bailey, Manager of Frontline Operations for The Stewpot, shared a story about a true second chance opportunity for one Stewpot client.

As Manager of Frontline Operations, one of Cindy’s many responsibilities is working with the STREETZine street newspaper. Cindy’s regular STREETZine duties entail interfacing with the magazine’s vendors on a daily basis. STREETZine vendors are homeless or economically disadvantaged individuals who are granted self-employment opportunity through the distribution and sale of the STREETZine newspaper.

As a STREETZine vendor you are required to adhere to a code of conduct; violation of that code can result in being barred or banned from paper distribution services.  Clients of The Stewpot can also be barred or banned from Stewpot resources for a number of behaviors including illegal activity, harassment and other forms of misconduct.

One such STREETZine vendor, whom we will refer to as “Frank” has hand a long-standing relationship as a Stewpot client.  Frank started visiting The Stewpot for support services over 10 years ago.  Roughly five years into his time with The Stewpot, Frank began struggling with some substance abuse issues.  His habits quickly consumed him and led to some unfavorable behavior that ultimately resulted in him being barred altogether from Stewpot services. 

“When you spend your time seeing these folks day-in and day-out, when they suddenly aren’t around, you worry for them and hope they’re doing OK.”
— Stewpot Caseworker

For a time, Frank was absent from The Stewpot and his well-being was weighing on the hearts of Stewpot employees. “When you spend your time seeing these folks day-in and day-out, when they suddenly aren’t around, you worry for them and hope they’re doing ok,” says a Stewpot caseworker.  Frank’s absence began to weigh heavily on the heart of one particular caseworker. Their response was to take action to initiate a conversation about how The Stewpot might be able to deliver on the promise of a second chance for Frank.   

After input from a number of employees who had interacted with Frank, meetings to set some new parameters for a pathway to rehabilitation, follow-through and execution by a dedicated team of individuals, a game plan was created for Frank’s second chance.

With these new guidelines in place, Stewpot employees were able to facilitate a conversation with Frank and give him guidance to empower and encourage him towards a path to recovery.  After taking some personal responsibility and some rehabilitation steps, Frank’s ban was eventually lifted and he was able to return to The Stewpot.  Three years later with the assistance provided by Stewpot caseworkers and a series of anger management classes, Frank showed enough improvement that he was eligible to be reconsidered as a STREETZine vendor.

Today Frank continues to work on his road to recovery.  The Stewpot is happy to report that Frank has enrolled himself in an in-patient treatment program through a library resource and is receiving counseling services with a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Stewpot. He has been granted temporary permissions to return as a STREETZine vendor and if he proves himself under the provisional period, he may be granted full privileges in the future. 

Frank’s story is just one example of a second chance granted to an individual who made their way through The Stewpot doors.  His is a testament that collaborative team efforts, perseverance, and dedication are being dished out daily here at The Stewpot.  While Frank’s journey is far from over, he serves as a reminder that it is important for us to recalibrate our definition of success for those experiencing circumstances unlike our own.  With enough small wins, over time, we can make BIG changes in the lives of those we interact with.    

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BY KRISTIN MERRON  |  June 1, 2018