Over the last one year, the church has in a way adopted Jason and Caren, and in a similar way it seems that they have adopted St. Michael's as well in terms of the many blessings and inspiration they have provided the church. Jason acts as a crossing guard between all Masses to help people safely cross Wayne Ave next to the church. He has also become an usher at the 8:00 a.m. Mass and has become very close to Msgr. Eddie Tolentino, who is the parish priest. Due to his closeness to the church and the many blessings he and Caren have received and likewise provided, Jason has chosen to take classes to become a Catholic through St. Michael's RCIA program.
The most selfless act that is currently being spearheaded by Jason and Caren is that they have begun a ministry for the poor and vulnerable at St. Michael's, the first act of which was to organize a blanket and warm clothing drive for the poor and homeless. This was the first time such an event was performed at St. Michael's that catered directly to the poor and vulnerable; they were personally invited to come to the church to select whatever they needed. While assisting with this event, I could see the respect and gratitude that all of those who came had for Jason and Caren. Those of us from St. Michael's also share this deep respect and gratitude to Jason and Caren for acting as a wake up call to not just talk about helping the poor and vulnerable but also to get up and directly minister to them in ways that can provide the most benefit. We at St. Michael's have been given a rare opportunity through Jason and Caren to have direct access to the poor, which provides many opportunities to have a dramatic impact on our surrounding community that in the past we have only spoken about.
A major issue that Jason and Caren are having is trying to find a job that will help pay their way out of their homeless situation. One complicating factor was the state of Jason's teeth, which were severely damaged due to multiple Cancer treatments in the past. A dentist from St. Michael's offered to extract all of Jason's teeth for free, which amounted to almost $12,000 worth of work. In addition, the individual who makes the dentures that will replace these teeth offered to do this for free as well, which amounted to about $4,400 worth of work. Jason will receive his new teeth in January and will hopefully improve his chances of obtaining a job in the near future. Another issue concerns Caren's ability to get a job. Some time ago, Caren fell down an escalator and broke her wrist and arm in several locations. As a result she has to wear an external metal brace/rod that prevents her from doing a lot of things related to the line of work she used to be in. As a result she lost her job and has been unable to obtain work since. Now that her arm is healed, the doctor refuses to remove the brace until she is out of the elements, as living outside constantly can result in a severe infection once the brace is removed. This in a way represents a Catch 22 situation in which she needs the brace removed to get a job so she can afford housing, but the doctor will only remove the brace once she has secured housing and is out of the elements.
Therefore, the current campaign is soliciting for funds to pay for six month of housing for Jason and Caren for the myriad of reasons summarized below. This should definitely be sufficient time to get them on their feet and in a situation where they can find work that allows them to become sustainable on their own. Please consider giving to this important campaign if not for Jason and Caren, but also to set a precedent for the surrounding community that shows that together we can indeed have a significant positive impact on those who are less fortunate that ourselves. Thank you.
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