BRISTOL ā After three years at St. Vincent de Paul, Brianās Angels is moving across town to a new, larger location on Federal Hill.
āWe are packing up and moving to the Prospect United Methodist Church, at the corner of Center and Summer streets,ā said Pat Stebbins, founder of the homeless outreach organization.
āWe are closing for a week, because I havenāt had a week off since I started doing this four years ago,ā said Stebbins. āOn Saturday Iām just going to open for a couple of hours to pass out water and sandwiches, so people donāt end up having to go Saturday and Sunday without food. Then weāre going to close from Aug. 11 to 18, and then hit the ground running on Aug. 19.ā
āWeāre going to double our square footage, from 1,000 to about 2,000 square feet. Iām finally going to have an office, that actually locks and closes,ā she said, laughing. āRight now when I need to speak to clients I have to go into the hallway, or in the cafeteria. Iāve been doing this now for four years and Iāve never had an office, so Iām excited.ā
āItās going to enable us to do a lot more things. Weāre going to be able to set up computers, because weāll have secure areas. I really didnāt have any secure areas before,ā she added.
Prospect United has two basement rooms that formerly housed a preschool and a thrift shop, Stebbins said. āThe living room is going to be twice the size, and weāre going to have a plaque in honor of Sheila Kelley.ā
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 Brianās Angels.
āThat brought in quite a bit of money for us,ā Stebbins said. āI 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.ā
Stebbins founded Brianās 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.
Brianās 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. āWe try to āfill a holeā for items that are not in the area agencies and for items outside their budgets,ā according to the organizationās 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 donāt know where Brianās Angels is located or canāt get there on their own, she said. āThere are people in Forestville, there are people up at Walmart, there are people probably behind all the grocery stores. Iāve got a friend thatās telling me thereās a homeless guy near her, near Stop and Shop. He needs shoes but he hasnāt been able to get to us so Iām going to have to bring the shoes to her. So transportation is an issue for people to get help.ā
Brianās Angelsā new home should allow her and her volunteers to step up their efforts to help them, she said. āFailure is never an option. Every time somebody steps up to help itās in Brianās memory.ā
For more information, visit https://briansangels.org/ or find them on Facebook.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.