We are pleased to introduce the latest member to join our team, Ms. Karla Reuter. Karla is program manager for Food Distribution, Christmas Giving Program, and the Saint Stephen Housing Initiative.
Karla has a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Religious Education, and a Certificate of Youth Ministry Studies. She was most recently employed as the Religious Ed. Coordinator at Saint Anne Parish in Southborough.
Karla lives in Northborough, with her husband Deacon Paul, and her four children.
For years now we have been struggling with the problem of when/where/how to place newly arrived refugees, immigrants, and asylees into apartments in the city. Many are newly arrived and really don’t understand the rights and responsibilities of being a tenant and some landlords may take advantage of this, much to the detriment of the tenant. Let us be clear, we are not saying all landlords are not nice, but over the years we have met a few who aren’t and it always costs the tenant.
We have often thought of buying a three-family house and renting it out to refugees when they first arrive. This way they could rent somewhat below market rents to make expenses more manageable, and we could provide training on what it means to live as a tenant in America. Although this is a real ongoing problem, we always knew that for our little ministry it was the “impossible dream.” That is until a donor came along who had the same idea and now our dream and his are becoming a reality, albeit slowly.
We will now be able to offer a three year housing program to newly arrived refugee, immigrant or asylee families. This program offers reduced rents for the period of their stay as long as they participate in the various training programs we will be offering, so they can familiarize themselves with living in America, the rights and obligations they have as tenants, financial management, and how to purchase a home of their own or how to find another rental apartment.
We are just in the planning and agreement phase right now, but are hopeful that we will have a house within a year. It all depends on how fast the lawyers and real estate dealers can move things along. We are calling this program the Saint Stephen’s housing initiative. So keep those prayers coming, I think we are going to need them.
It started with a phone call from, of all places, the company that does our trash hauling. Dennis, the owner, with his confirmation class at Christ the King Parish came up with this idea to help kids this summer. They collected 30 milk crates, and loaded them with summer items for kids, including sun screen, crayons, chalk, coloring books, beach towels, etc. Dennis called us to see if we would be interested again this year, to pass them out to the children of our customers. Of course, we said yes. So the class came to the Little Store and dropped off the milk crates filled with items. Needless to say they were an instant hit with the kids.