Christmas at St. Francis House

The holidays are always tough for the guests of St. Francis House. No stocking to hang by the chimney with care. No presents under the tree. COVID has made things hard for all of us, but it’s even worse when you don’t have a home of your own to go home to. Some of our guests usually do get to spend time with family and friends during the holidays, but that’s pretty much out this year – another big disappointment.

“With the pandemic, this year has been an especially difficult one for our guests,” says St. Francis House President Karen LaFrazia. “And while we always do everything we can to make the holidays special, this year our wonderful and dedicated staff is particularly focused on bringing ‘comfort and joy’ to all the men and women who we welcome this holiday season.”

As always, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, the Holiday Gift Drive will ensure the residents of Next Step Housing at 39 Boylston and our MAP students receive gifts from their “wish lists” – such as sheets, pots and pans, and jackets. In addition, residents of The Union at 48 Boylston will receive gift cards from places like Target and Roche Brothers, so that they can do something special for themselves or treat a friend or family member.

Above, for COVID safety, gifts for the Holiday Gift Drive were wrapped in house by St. Francis House staff.

Judy Coleman, Manager of Guest Services, is always super-focused on taking care of our guests. For the past few weeks, she and her team have been busily stuffing backpacks that all of our guests will receive for Christmas. A backpack alone is a wonderful gift for our guests – ask anyone who has volunteered in the clothing center – but these backpacks will be stuffed with goodies:

  • Sweatshirt
  • Inspiration bracelets
  • Candy
  • Ear-buds
  • Hand-warmers
  • Gift cards to places like Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Kits containing, gloves, hats, scarf

Judy and her team have added assembling the backpacks to their already crowded list of responsibilities – and they’re doing their stuffing without the help of the volunteers who usually pitch in.

Left, staff work around the clock packing hundreds of backpacks. Right, Big boxes of donated candy from Sacred Heart Parish will be a great addition!

For Christmas Day, Chef Seth Green is preparing a sumptuous feast for the hundreds of guests we’re expecting: 420 stuffed cranberry and orange chicken breasts accompanied by 168 lbs of mashed potatoes, 100 lbs of sauteed green beans, 12 gallons of gravy, 50 lbs of cranberry sauce, and hundreds of warm, toasted rolls. And for dessert, there’ll be pies, of course. The meals can be enjoyed, socially distanced, in the dining room or in spots throughout the building. 

Members of the Recovery Support Center will be able to bring their meals up to the fifth floor and dine there (again, socially distanced). And Program Manager Efrain Lozada has promised extra desserts – sshhh: don’t tell anyone! – and a karaoke machine playing carols. 

All in all – and despite all the stress and strain that 2020 has brought with it – we’re looking forward to a very Merry Christmas for all of our guests. 

Support for St. Francis House this season can be contributed through www.stfrancishouse.org/christmas.