Room at the Inn Summit

Room at the Inns Summit on Homelessness
Engages and Informs

Room at the Inn hosted its first Summit on Homelessness, a panel presentation and discussion, on September 8th at Central Reform Congregation. More than 60 people were in attendance as expert panelists discussed the current state of homelessness in our area, how Room at the Inn fits in, what needs are most crucial, the effects on children and families and how issues of mental health and homeless interrelate.

Panelists included Karen Wallensak, director of Catholic Charities Housing Resource Center; Lesly Jackson, former client and current board member of Room at the Inn and counselor at Harbor Lights; MikeLamping, program manager for the Multi-systemic Therapy Program at Places for People; and Julie Blanco, program manager with Co-occuring Disorder Services at Places for People.

“Last year inSt. Louis County, there were over 4,500 requests from families and individuals (households) to our hotline. Of the 4,576 households that asked for shelter, only 1,193 actually got in. That’s 26% – only a quarter of the people who were homeless and had no place to go that night got a bed,” Karen said during her presentation. “19% of the families who did get in were at Room at theInn. You all do a wonderful job of  bringing hope to people.”

Lesly gave a moving speech where she described the impact the care and compassion of Room at theInn’s volunteers and night sites had in her life.Mikeand Julie explained how Places for People’s outreach program serves the homeless inSt. LouisCountywith mental illness, addiction and co-occurring disorders.

Following the panelists presentations, there was a question and answer session moderated by Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Moore, senior pastor of Webster Groves Christian Church. During the discussion, the panelists stressed the importance of treating the homeless as individuals and with respect. Their advice for volunteers who interact with the homeless clients is to simply ask them what they are comfortable with and what their needs are. The evening ended with a table talk session where attendees interacted with panelists and each other.

We thank our panelists, moderator and everyone in attendance for making theSummitsuch a success and for providing valuable information, resources and discussion points that we can implement and share in our mission to help the homeless in our community.

To view photos from the Summit, please visit our Facebook page at

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