The Center for Respite Care gives those who are homeless and sick a place for recovery

There is a place in OTR that quietly takes care of people experiencing homelessness who are ill. These are our population’s most vulnerable. They are the people who have nowhere to go when discharged from the hospital, nowhere to heal. The Center for Respite Care, a 24-hour facility, was founded more than 15 years ago with this as its mission. It’s early location was in Avondale, and now it sits proudly at the corner of Republic and Liberty, adjacent to the St. Francis Seraph Church — a church founded at its current location in 1859 by the Franciscan Friars.


The Center has served more than 1,800 people since 2003. Multiply that by bed nights and the impact is exponential.


The Friary made The Center’s current location possible. The Center shares space with other organizations that also work with our local underserved and homeless populations. The new location is able to accommodate 20 people at one time. The majority of the clients stay an average of 30 days, with some who remain longer depending upon the complexity of their illness.


“We are grateful to the community who has made it possible for our move and ongoing support,” says Laurie Nelson, chief executive officer of The Center. “This has included being part of a recent Hamilton County Tax Levy, ongoing support from Channel 12 as our media sponsor and FC Cincinnati, who has provided us with lead spokespeople. Many generous Greater Cincinnatians continue to both write checks and volunteer.”


The Center’s new facility has a medical team, extensive social service support, and provides clients with connections that bridge their time from illness to health. This often includes locating employment and stable housing. Each year, The Center holds the annual transformation awards that pay tribute to individuals who have thrived during their time with The Center and to major benefactors.


The 2019 dinner will be held on October 17 at 6:00 pm at Xavier’s Cintas Center, and will pay tribute to Roger Grein, Sr. Bonnie Steinlage, SFP, Free Store Food Bank, and Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church. 


“The dinner educates the community about who we are and what we do,” says The Center’s chief advancement officer, Ed Slater. “It is the one chance to get all of our stakeholders together in a room and to say thank you to those who have done so much. We are forever grateful.”


The collaborative efforts of many health care and homeless service providers allow The Center to be an important link in the transition from homelessness for many people. Illness or injury does not have to disrupt a homeless person’s progress toward self-sufficiency. By offering appropriate care and referral of patients to post-recovery treatment and/or housing, The Center is an important bridge enabling people without homes to begin or continue the path to independent living in permanent housing.


“Some days at work are tough,” says Nelson. “We see people who struggle. We are part of situations that at times seem untenable, but there is no work we would rather do. My team’s level of commitment is unparalleled.”

Read more articles by Jennifer Mooney.

Jennifer Mooney is a downtown Cincinnati resident and Founder of The Mooney Group, LLC (Communications and public relations.) She has worked for and with multiple agencies as the client, the leader at the agency, and advisor to the agency. She is a lifelong adventurer which includes extensive hiking/climbing, open water swimming, and downhill skiing. She is married to Donald Mooney and has two grown daughters.

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