Ave Explores Series | Faith in Action | Week 1

Helping the Homeless is about More than Providing Services

Steve Camilleri and the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana

Steve Camilleri has served as the executive director of the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana, for the past fifteen years. His daughter was born a month before he began the job, and while he was sleep deprived and walking in a little uncertain of how things would go, he was hopeful. “Having been involved in issues surrounding homelessness as an undergraduate, and visiting homeless shelters in Chicago and New York, I felt pulled to this ministry.”

As he got settled into his role, Camilleri learned an important lesson that guides the center’s commitment to the homeless: “Homelessness doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to any of us.”

In addition to providing shelter, job training, counseling, and other resources, the staff at the Center for the Homeless forms relationships with men and women to help them realize they are seen, loved, cared for, and valuable. There are many opportunities for the guests of the center to gather in support groups to process, talk, learn, and heal.

“I, personally, have learned so much about the strength in sharing my own struggles, my own vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and what it’s like to reach out to others for help. And I can’t tell you how many times a guest at the center has shared wisdom that opened my eyes with a new insight on life,” Camilleri said.

The Center for the Homeless serves thousands each year with its emergency shelter, transitional housing, veteran’s center, children’s support, adult self-sufficiency training programs, and mental health counseling. The success of the center is a challenge for all to help those who are affected by homelessness. “We can make an impact in our own communities when we see the injustice that is homelessness. Sometimes we think that we cannot do anything, but we can do everything to make a difference in the lives of those that are impacted by homelessness,” Camilleri said. “Seek out and know your own gifts and then lend them freely to those in need. If you are good at listening, take time to visit with someone experiencing homelessness and hear their story. If you are gifted in music, visit a nearby facility and teach music lessons or play music during their meals. Perhaps you are good at sewing—make masks for those in need at homeless facilities. Or maybe you can even learn how to do it like two amazing students I met recently! Whatever you can give of yourself to make someone else’s life better, go for it. Share your love of your neighbor and continue to pray for them.”

Learn more about the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana, here.

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