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Kristen Fels and Casey Gerding wrapped a dinner plate at St. Patrick Center. Fels’ and Gerding’s grandparents, Butch and Sally Schulze, began volunteering and organizing fundraisers for St. Patrick Center, a tradition which is now carried on by younger members of their family.
Kristen Fels and Casey Gerding wrapped a dinner plate at St. Patrick Center. Fels’ and Gerding’s grandparents, Butch and Sally Schulze, began volunteering and organizing fundraisers for St. Patrick Center, a tradition which is now carried on by younger members of their family.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Family generosity in memory of parents benefits St. Patrick Center

The Schulze family’s generosity in memory of parents benefits St. Patrick Center

The meal was delicious, and the people serving it are angels.

That was the consensus of the women staying at the St. Patrick Center Women’s Night Program on a chilly, windy evening Feb. 17. They dined on roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, homemade bread, salad and a variety of dessert offerings.

Stacy Bame has been homeless for a couple of years and, with St. Patrick Center’s help, hopes to have an apartment soon. She thanked the cooks and meal servers — six Schulze family members dressed in green “O’Schulze” shirts created for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. She thanked and hugged the volunteers.

“I’m very grateful, very thankful that we get fed an extra meal,” Bame said. “We get a special dinner, and they’re always so special, so friendly, they’ll talk to you and sometimes they’ll minister to you. It’s just such a blessing to have them around.”

A family story

The volunteers this night are a special group, doing the work in memory of their parents and grandparents, Charles “Butch” and Carol “Sally” Schulze, who were longtime parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi in Oakville.

“I know most of us feel that we are not only honoring Butch and Sally, but also teaching our kids and others the importance of giving back and helping others. I know my grandparents would be proud,” Kristen Fels said of this and other efforts family members do for St. Patrick Center. The Catholic Charities agency provides opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Beth Appelbaum handed a dessert to a woman staying at the St. Patrick Center Women’s Night Program.
For many years, Sally Schulze, whose maiden name was Kennedy, organized a family presence at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in St. Louis and dressed as a leprechaun. When she died in 2000 after 44 years of marriage, her husband created a St. Patrick’s Day party in her memory. He paid for the hall, corned beef and beer and asked guests to donate to St. Patrick Center, his and Sally’s favorite charity.

Butch Schulze died in 2008. His six children continued the St. Patrick’s Day party tradition to support St. Patrick Center. They also took part in the Christmas Wishes program at the Catholic Charities center, picking a family to support. Next, the family members began helping on the Christmas Wishes effort.

The annual party was phased out and a Facebook group page, “Schulze’s Give Back — St. Patrick’s Center,” was created a year ago to communicate about other efforts for St. Patrick Center. Each month, the group of family and friends collects in-kind donations for St. Patrick Center and delivers them on the last Friday. Items include butter, eggs and milk, as well as paper towels, tissues and toilet paper. It’s taken as many as three vehicles to deliver items.

The family also serves lunch in St. Patrick’s Shamrock Club or the women’s night program, all in Butch and Sally’s memory.

Family and friends in Chicago and others as far as Maryland and Minnesota also contribute in some way to St. Patrick’s Center.

Apples and oranges

Beth Appelbaum, the second-oldest of the Schulze kids and a member of Mary Mother of the Church Parish in south St. Louis County, said her parents appreciated St. Patrick Center because it’s local, Catholic and helps people in need.

The family tells of the many times when Butch Schulze shared produce with neighbors. “We never lacked for apples and oranges,” she said with a laugh.

He pitched in to help flood-relief efforts in St. Louis by feeding sandbaggers a meal of stew and biscuits. He attributed this charitable attitude to his mother, the family members said. He was one of four children and his wife was one of eight. Family and faith traditions are passed on to succeeding generations.

Butch Schulze was a self-employed newspaper carrier who started a glass company in the 1980s now run by the oldest son. Sally cared for the children and the home before taking a retail job with K-B Toys. Her employee discount came in handy when buying gifts for their many grandchildren. The Schulze clan includes 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Fels, a Mary Mother of the Church parishioner, said that, besides visiting St. Patrick Center, the close-knit family tries to get together for family game nights, girls sleepovers and more. They typically spend the day after Christmas as a family doing something fun such as bowling. “My grandmother, always had family gatherings like the family sleepovers when we were kids,” Fels said. “We try to carry on those traditions.”

Stacy Bame has been staying in the night shelter at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis. She said she was grateful for the Schulze family volunteers who served dinner Feb. 17. “We get a special dinner, and they’re always so special, so friendly, they’ll talk to you and sometimes they’ll minister to you. It’s just such a blessing to have them around,” she said of the volunteers.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston

The meal preparation and serving Feb. 17 went smoothly, with the servers bumping into each other occasionally and laughing about it. The good-natured banter was interrupted from time to time with shouts such as “Do we need more bread and butter?” and, in the clean-up phase: “I hate plastic wrap.”

The family members appreciated the interaction with the women staying at the night shelter. “They were all very gracious. I’m glad we can help and keep honoring our parents’ memory,” said Anne Gerding, the youngest of the Schulze children and a member of St. Joseph Parish in Imperial. “It’s hard to explain the feeling you get. We’re grateful for the opportunity.”

Pam Schulze, who married Butch and Sally’s son Chris, said that “we’re thankful for each other and the little things we have.”

Appelbaum added that “we’re thankful for our blessings and the little bit we can do to spread kindness and compassion along with a meal. It seems so basic.”

Bame, the client who spoke earlier about the volunteers, said “I thank God that they came. And it touched me that they wore green shirts. It reminded me of St. Patrick Center, which has been such a change agent and stepping stone for me. I finally have a chance to make it right. It’s ‘wow,’ seriously. I don’t want to be on the streets anymore or in shelters the rest of my life.”

She could tell the Schulze family volunteers “are really into it.” One example that made her smile: “They had purple napkins, you know.”

>> Women’s Night Program

For more than 35 years, St. Patrick Center has quietly operated a program for a group of clients needing the most care: women struggling with homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse.

The Women’s Night Program, consisting of a day treatment program and overnight care, has guided hundreds of women through their fears, on to their goals, and in to permanent supportive housing.

St. Patrick Center case managers point to the example of a woman who was battling mental illness. She was placed in the Shamrock Club day treatment program and started showing up for programs and services. At night, she stayed at a nearby shelter.

Case managers never gave up on recruiting her to the Women’s Night Program, which culminates for clients in permanent supportive housing. More than once, they thought they had her signed up, but she was a no-show.

Within time, the woman could see that the Women’s Night Program was her best option, so she enrolled. She didn’t like following rules, making decisions, socializing with others. St. Patrick Center focused on patient, unending care and concern with her. Case managers taught her how to live with structure, make decisions, and other necessary life skills.

She struggled along the way to permanent housing — making excuses, remaining noncommittal. Her case management team persisted and eventually, she willingly moved into an apartment. She’s now in a St. Patrick Center permanent supportive housing team providing wrap-around support.

>> Coordinated entry

St. Patrick Center’s Coordinated Entry team consists of three programs: Client Welcome Center, Mobile Outreach and Neighborhood Support.

In 20017, St. Patrick Center completed 3,430 intakes and assessments. Of these, 64 percent were referred to St. Patrick Center and the rest were referred to other agencies. St. Patrick Center provided rental assistance and case management to nearly 2,200 and achieved 600 new housing placements. It prevented homelessness for another 100.

St. Patrick Center needs funding for transportation assistance, grocery gift cards and small microwaves. It also needs volunteer mentors to assist clients with opening bank accounts. To get involved, visit stpatrickcenter.org or call (314) 802-0700.

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