Sister Kathleen Osbelt has a history of ministering to those who need shelter. She was a hospital chaplain in the 1980s, just as HIV AIDS struck thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world. Sister Kathleen met a woman at the hospital who changed her life after years of drug abuse, but not before she contracted the disease.
“She spent seven months in the hospital, alone and isolated because she had no place to go and no one to care for her,” Sister Kathleen says. “I saw that, and I thought that was just so wrong. And I knew she wasn’t the only one facing this situation.” The friendship Sister formed with the woman led to Francis House’s founding, a hospice that “provides a home and extended family to persons with terminal illnesses so they can die with dignity surrounded by the unconditional love of God.”
With Francis House now in its 30th year, Sister Kathleen has turned her efforts to helping the Syracuse, New York non-profit Mothers and Children in Crisis (MCC) to address another housing need.
“Right now, there are more than 1200 women in Syracuse on substance abuse treatment. They have children, but there is no rehabilitation program for them, no place where they can go with their kids and work to turn their lives around,” she says. Sister is consulting with the Board of Directors on raising money to build a residential center where women can live with their children, receive treatment and gain the skills they need to live independently in the community.
“We need to offer help to women who go through drug court and who also have children they need to care for,” Sister Kathleen says. “You want to break this cycle of drug abuse, give these kids a chance in life.”
While it works on a capital campaign for a building, MCC provides its clients with a back-to-school drive each fall to equip children with the supplies they need to be successful at school and an annual Christmas drive offering food and clothing.