Brian's Angels is moving to a bigger space at Federal Hill

Published on Friday, 9 August 2019 19:12
Written by SUSAN CORICA

@coricaBP

BRISTOL – After three years at St. Vincent de Paul, Brian’s Angels is moving across town to a new, larger location on Federal Hill.

“We are packing up and moving to the Prospect United Methodist Church, at the corner of Center and Summer streets,” said Pat Stebbins, founder of the homeless outreach organization.

“We are closing for a week, because I haven’t had a week off since I started doing this four years ago,” said Stebbins. “On Saturday I’m just going to open for a couple of hours to pass out water and sandwiches, so people don’t end up having to go Saturday and Sunday without food. Then we’re going to close from Aug. 11 to 18, and then hit the ground running on Aug. 19.”

“We’re going to double our square footage, from 1,000 to about 2,000 square feet. I’m finally going to have an office, that actually locks and closes,” she said, laughing. “Right now when I need to speak to clients I have to go into the hallway, or in the cafeteria. I’ve been doing this now for four years and I’ve never had an office, so I’m excited.”

“It’s going to enable us to do a lot more things. We’re going to be able to set up computers, because we’ll have secure areas. I really didn’t have any secure areas before,” she added.

Prospect United has two basement rooms that formerly housed a preschool and a thrift shop, Stebbins said. “The living room is going to be twice the size, and we’re going to have a plaque in honor of Sheila Kelley.”

Kelley was a lifelong Bristol resident and vice president at Webster Bank, who died last spring after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Her husband, Peter Kelley, is a City Council member. In her obituary, the family asked that, in lieu of flowers, people make donations in her memory to Brian’s Angels.

“That brought in quite a bit of money for us,” Stebbins said. “I just thought it was so great of Peter to do that. He could have chosen any other non-profit in town and he chose us. So we will have the Sheila Kelley Memorial Family Room.”

Stebbins founded Brian’s Angels in 2015, in memory of her son Brian Pinz, who died in 1998, two weeks before his 25th birthday, after a period of homelessness. After searching for purpose in her life, Stebbins met a homeless couple while walking her dog on Memorial Boulevard and was inspired to pass out water to the homeless on a hot August day.

Soon her efforts grew into helping the Bristol Community Organization open a warming center that winter and then later a cooling center at St. Vincent de Paul on Jacobs Street. The St. Vincent de Paul location was originally only supposed to be for three months but it stretched to three years.

Brian’s Angels is more than a place for the homeless to get out of the weather. It also provides them with lunches and items such as toiletries, clothing and other supplies. “We try to ‘fill a hole’ for items that are not in the area agencies and for items outside their budgets,” according to the organization’s website.

Stebbins said there are 25 homeless currently living at St. Vincent de Paul, and she estimates there are another 50 living outdoors, unable to find room in a shelter.

These are people who either don’t know where Brian’s Angels is located or can’t get there on their own, she said. “There are people in Forestville, there are people up at Walmart, there are people probably behind all the grocery stores. I’ve got a friend that’s telling me there’s a homeless guy near her, near Stop and Shop. He needs shoes but he hasn’t been able to get to us so I’m going to have to bring the shoes to her. So transportation is an issue for people to get help.”

Brian’s Angels’ new home should allow her and her volunteers to step up their efforts to help them, she said. “Failure is never an option. Every time somebody steps up to help it’s in Brian’s memory.”

For more information, visit https://briansangels.org/ or find them on Facebook.

Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or scorica@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Friday, 9 August 2019 19:12. Updated: Friday, 9 August 2019 19:15.