RochesterBeacon: Life on the edge

Mike Costanza with the RochesterBeacon writes about how homeless shelters and other charities in Monroe County, including the House of Mercy, struggle to maintain the funding required to provide the services they offer to the homeless and hungry in Rochester. The nonprofits that serve Monroe County’s homeless and hungry depend upon a patchwork of funding to continue their work. Though they appear to be holding their own, there could be problems on the horizon. …. Under such circumstances, those serving the county’s unhoused and hungry can find themselves stretched very thin. The House of Mercy Inc. offers a number of benefits for the needy, including the use of its 82-bed emergency shelter, which fills up most nights. “We serve anybody that needs a place to stay,” says Kelly Finnigan, director of operations. “It’s really about a handful of days that we’re below 82 beds.” When the weather turns cold, the House of Mercy sets up cots in its common areas and takes in as many as 110 people a night. Such high numbers can tax the facility. “It’s just a strain on everything—on the facility, on the staff, on the volunteers, on our ability to help people and get them to move on to permanent housing,” Finnigan says. In addition to sheltering the homeless, each day the nonprofit’s food pantry gives about 20 individuals or families some of the sustenance they need, and its soup kitchen serves about 450 meals. Both programs carry their own price tags. “We get a lot of donated food, but we also have to purchase a lot of food to supplement that,” Finnigan explains. “It’s fairly expensive for us to run our kitchen.”  Read more…

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13WHAM: Early season chill putting a strain on local homeless shelters

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – Lawrence Greggs has been homeless for ten years. He’s spent the last two at the House of Mercy in Rochester. He’s used to cold temperatures, but not typically this early. “It’s really tough. It’s brisk out. A hot meal is more than just something I like to have; it’s one of the reasons why I come here,” said Greggs. “The way the wind is going, and how brisk it is out, you’d be an icicle before you know it.” Some local shelters say the quick turnaround from seasonable warmth to single-digit wind chills in a short time has put a bigger strain on their resources. Read more…

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Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship

In late 2018, Sister Grace Miller was nominated for the Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship. First awarded in 2012, the Farash Prize honors the legacy of Max Farash—a business entrepreneur who, along with his wife, Marian, recognized the importance of supporting social causes in their community. Congratulations on this nomination Sister Grace!

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House of Mercy Featured in Walmart Commercial

The House of Mercy is featured in a new television commercial for Walmart. The retail giant is focusing on its commitment to American manufacturers that support non-profits in their own communities. This week, Walmart unveiled its series, ‘American Ingenuity’ on its YouTube channel, highlighting the philanthropic actions of several locally owned and operated businesses whose products are carried in Walmart locations across the country. The Perfect Granola, a local food company, donates a portion of its proceeds to help feed people at House of Mercy’s soup kitchen. In addition, Ashlie Jones, an employee of The Perfect Granola, volunteers at The House.

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Bernie Sass: Hard-working Chairman Of The Board

He’s a veteran of manufacturing management. And he holds a BA and an MBA from Michigan State. But these days he’s happier with a hammer in his hand. Fixing holes. Renovating. Remodeling. Patching up our worn out House of Mercy building on Hudson with baling wire and duct tape. And providing an inspiring role model for every House supporter and volunteer. Meet Bernie Sass, Chairman of the Board of the House of Mercy. Jumping in with both feet After a 30-plus year career working for prominent companies like Xerox and ITT, this dedicated member of St. Mary’s of the Lake in Ontario, N.Y., retired. And right away he began looking for ways to make a difference in the Greater Rochester community. One day he showed up to learn about The House of Mercy, the only place in Rochester that never closes its doors on people in need. “The House has a Mother Teresa role in our community, serving the poorest of the poor,” he explained. “And Mother Teresa has always been one of my heroes. So this was a natural place for me to volunteer.” Not long after that first meeting, C.W. called him to help fix up a house that would give homeless people trying to survive around the train station a safe place to live. “The house was donated, but it was a complete wreck. I probably spent six months there helping to completely remodel the place.” That was four years ago. Now Bernie’s a mainstay of the House, working Monday through Friday as a carpenter, maintenance man, unofficial co-manager of facilities and collaborator with other House of Mercy leaders. “I get more back than I give. That’s the nature of this kind of work. The rewards are immense. And it all comes at a good time in…

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