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The Upper Room of Erie

Looking Ahead

The UPPER ROOM serves hundreds of people each week. So, it's our job to find ways to serve them better. It's our job to do everything in our power to help, and ultimately help mediate the issue of homelessness in the Erie community. In this spirit, we are making plans. Let me tell you about a few of these...

The doors, stairways, window sills, and outside railings are scrubbed. Thanks Tom Hoeke and the Summit United Methodist Church! Our consumers (I like this word better than "homeless"...let me know what you think) have painted railings, fixed stair kick-plates, and painted the front doors. We have officially joined the Second Harvest Food Bank of Erie, and we're already "eyeing up" Rita's and Cynthia's supply of coffee. Yours Truly has met with potential volunteers, young and old. I encourage young college folks, and already have interest from some at Mercyhurst. We have made contact with Master's level therapists and a blended case manager, who are expressing interest to volunteer, perhaps groups for anger management, life-skills, how to survive Erie in the winter (Brrr). Some of our consumers can't read or write. What is our obligation with these folks? I'll tell you this much....we have an obligation, for sure! And this is just the start!

A Reading Room/Library, Quiet room to sleep off the past night when it was too cold to sleep, puzzle and game area, are all on our wish list. Oh, and did I mention our roof leaks? Our challenges are great, but our faith is greater. Faith is really hope, looking forward, and we will keep our eyes focused in a forward direction.

Okay, this is too long, but I wanted to let you know I'm here. I am Dr. Cris Taylor. I am open to all suggestions, even critical ones. It feels good to help others. It feels really good... Really Good, and I'm banking that the people of Erie feel the same way.

More to come as we move forward.
Cris

~

Annual Chess Trounament

Once again we have observed April Fool’s day with our annual chess tournament. We had 26 people sign up, but only 8 showed up. Gary Sykes, our treasurer and go-to guy showed his diplomatic skills by moderating the event. Sometimes the players have their own special rules they like to go by. There were some very spirited discussions as the event proceeded.

Chess Trournament Winners

Three men, from left (3rd) to right (1st) are Michael Ford Jr.,James Elmore, Cory Jackson.

Taking top honors was new comer Cory Jackson. Second place went to James Elmore, and third went to Michael Ford Jr.

Chess Trournament

Tournament
under way

Chess Trournament_2

Tournament participants

Note: Watch this space! Our new director, Cris Taylor, will take over this fun task . Join me in wishing him all success.

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A New Look for the Upper Room

We first discussed the idea of an awning over our main door several years ago, but didn't follow thru. As I am approaching the end of my directorship, now would be a good time to try again. And guess what? This time I was successful. This beauty was fabricated and installed by Al's Awning. The non-profit partnership is going to share the cost with us. Now we will be easier to find for those whose help we seek. Our visitors have never had a problem finding us. Over a quarter-million people have come up the stairs since March 6, 1995. That never ceases to amaze me.

Tom
Soon-to-be ex -director

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The Upper Room goes green

The Upper Room couldn't let one of the major party days go by without notice. Party Person without Portfolio Gae Anderson-Miller did a terrific job , bringing games, refreshments, and decorations (inside and out!). There were wall decorations, stickers, balloons, games and prizes and plenty of guests to make it a great occasion. Even the weather managed to be in the spirit of the days with happy (sunny) weather. Even the TV was showing Irish dancers. Twas a great day for every one!

Doug & Gae


Doug and Gae get into the mood of the day. Doug is smiling...really!

Gae & Allen


Gay and Allen confirm the master builder with his 21 inch toothpick and marshmallow tower.

Weedie


Weedie contemplating 2nd place. What happened?

Mother & Son


Mother and son team show after their 3rd place finish. Can I eat it now mom?

Weedie & Jeremy


Weedie, Jeremy, and comrades have a great time building and eating

Winner


To the winner go the cookies!

~

A Christmas survival party

What do you get if you take a Christmas tree, add pizza, chicken, popcorn, cookies and candy? A new Upper Room tradition...a Christmas survival party! That's what!

Created and produced by volunteer Gae Anderson-Miller with help from her daughter Leeanna, you get a roomful of people eating, playing games like 'How many jellie beans in this jar?' Approximately 150 men, women, and children enjoyed the food, music and games. Just when it seemed that no more excitement was possible for the party goers, staff brought out bags of clothing items that had been donated: hoodie sheatshirts, socks, gloves, knit hats, and toiletry kits.

It was a great way to end a great party. Thanks to Gae , her daughter, and the Upper Room team.

Staff bag clothing
Staff quicky bagged donated sweatshirts, gloves, hats, and toiletries. St. Paul members donated the proceeds of their Christmas "Sock Sunday."

Staff bag clothing


Can I have more popcorn mommy?

Mother and daughter


Gae Anderson-Miller and daughter Leeanna

Members relax at Christmas Party


Christmas music and comfortable chairs provide some relief from party excitement.

~

Carl Hull elected as President of the Upper Room's board of directors.

Carl Hull, Pastor Emeritus of St. Paul's UCC and Upper Room volunteer was recently elected as President of the Upper Room's board of directors. Carl replaces Tom Schlaudecker, Upper Room founder. Carl had previously served the board as secretary. He will begin his term as president in Jaunuary. Tom will remain a board member.

Carl Hull Board President

Carl Hull,
Board President
Upper Room of Erie

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Family Brings Holiday Cookies

As you may know by now, the Upper Room partners with the Mental Health Assn. to provide a warm place for anyone in need when the nightime temperature is forecast to go below 25 degrees.These last two weeks have had a lot of those nights. This past Sunday night was my turn to help Ronnie staff the shelter. Our guests were settled down to watch the Steelers whup the Bengals. Not a football fan, I was reading the log at the desk when I looked up to see.a young woman with two young children looking at me. In her hands mom held two plates of cookies...home made cookies to be precise...which she and the children made that day. They wanted to donate them to us, but thought maybe our guests wouldn't like them.

Family Brings Gift of Cookies

Family from St. Peter's Lutheran Church in McKean, bring gift of cookies.

In my usual humorous way I suggested that she and the children pass among the folks and see what their reaction was. Of course, in a few minutes they had eaten them all, and eveyone was smiling (including the kids). The group was from St. Peter's Lutheran Church in McKean, and mom had brought the kids so they could experience helping people in need. Seizing a teachable moment, I pointed out to the kids that now they knew that homeless people were just like them. The Upper Room staff learned that lesson a long time ago, and that knowledge is what keeps us coming back. It feels good to help help people. Merry Christmas!

Tom

~

18th Annual "Blizzard of Blankets"

2014 "Blizzard of Blankets" scheduled for Sunday, November 22

Every year I'm a little nervous about the turnout we will get for the latest "Blizzard of Blankets". Today's weather was forecast to be cold and windy but without significant snowfall. Our donors took advantage of this opportunity. I needn't have worried.

The first donor showed up before we had our banner and sorting tables in place for this year's Blizzard . The blankets and clothing kept coming even as we tried to drive away at three o'clock. Our helpers, Dave Way, Gary Sykes, Allen Lomax, Evelyn Coleman and her niece, Elaine Hirsch, Carl Hull, Tom Eckert, Randy, and I, were constantly busy receiving, sorting bagging,bundling, loading and transporting the donations. It was cold, and it was windy, but these minor annoyances couldn't dampen our excitement. Julie and her crew at the Parkside Restaurant kept us warm, well fed, and well relieved.

By 11 O'clock, we had the pile shown guarded by Dave Way, Gary Sykes, and Randy. When the day was over at three o'clock, we had to make perhaps ten trips to the shelter to transport just the blankets. By the time we had all the clothing packed up and moved, our store rooms were jammed with things that would soon be in the hands of Erie's homeless.

This year's Blizzard was especially exciting because it was mostly the work of a new team. Dave Way was the man in charge and was assisted by Bill Grove doing the publicity. It was a good feeling to see it all happening with me there just to help with the lifting and toting.

Just one of the several piles of blankets covering our storeroom floor.

Just one of the several piles of blankets covering our storeroom floor.

The face we presented to our friends and supporters. Braendel Painting  supplied the beautiful banner.

The face we presented to our friends and supporters. Braendel Painting supplied the beautiful banner.

Our pile of blankets two hours after our collection had begun. Guarding the blankets were Dave Way (Board Member), Gary Sykes (Treasurer) and Randy. a friend from the Upper Room..
Our pile of blankets two hours after our collection had begun. Guarding the blankets were Dave Way (Board Member), Gary Sykes (Treasurer) and Randy. a friend from the Upper Room..

~

Back to the Beach 2013!

"Back to Beach" picnic scheduled for August 7, 2014 at Beach 11 Presque Isle

Well, Summer is on its way out, but folks from the Upper Room had another opportunity to enjoy Erie’s Penninsula. It was a gorgeous day at beach 11, a bit cool for swimming, but a great one for walking, games, eating, and fellowship. Although about seventy five people had signed up for the much-anticipated day, when the door opened only about twenty five got off. Oh well! More food for the participators.

Members gather at bus for group photo
There were some skeptical people in this crowd as they got off the bus, but they were all smile getting back on. Anybody seen Delbert?

Board member and event chairman Rick Haire with wife Deb

Rick and Deb did a great job choosing nutritious food, cooking it to perfection, and serving it with a smile.

Board member Rick Haire was chairman of the event and laid on a great day. . Rick’s wife Debbie had the fire going and the fresh corn on the grill as the bus pulled up. Our thanks go to First Assembly for the use of their big yellow bus. Everything presented was home made by the Haires, from the pulled pork to the potato salad, to the burgers (freshly ground beef, to the fruit (watermelona and strawberries) and salads. Adventurous staff members brought more fruits and other goodies. Our thanks to Anna, Sal, Sherry, and Patty. Rick and Debbie are very nutrition-aware, so there wasn’t a potato chip or hot dog to be seen. The traditional soft drinks were replaced by fruit juices …and water! Yum!

Members eating at picnic

There was plenty of food. These folks were on their second time around the serving table and grill.

Deb working grill at picnic
Deb Haire at the grill. The corn was literally fresh from the field and tasted great. The burgers were hand-made too. Those strawberries on the plate were some of area farmers’ best.

Those not to full to move played bocce and croquet. There were even a few card games. People who had never even heard of Bocci were soon having a laughing good time. A few hardy folks hiked to the Perry monument and back. By he time the bus left, there were a lot of sleepy people in those seats….but everybody was ready and waiting for next year.

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Serve Erie Day comes to the Upper Room

Volunteers Painting Upper Room

An energetic crew of six plus a helper from the Upper Room made the stairway to the upstairs shelter shine like a new penny recently. Led by site leader Dave Treusch, the crew scrubbed stairs and stairwell until all traces of winter mud and salt had been removed.

"Serve Erie" is a quarterly effort organized by Grace Church and filled eight school busses provided by the General McLane school district with 28 crews of volunteers from area churches on this particular Saturday. The crews perform a variety of tasks depending on need and think of their efforts as building relationships in the Erie Area. We are grateful to be related to them!

~

Welcome to a new volunteer!

Cheryl 'Sherry' Schaff

Cheryl "Sherry" Schaff has recently joined the volunteer staff of the Upper Room. What appeals to her most as a volunteer is the opportunity to work one-on-one with our guests. She has been a Tai Chi practitioner for many years and especially enjoys learning the oriental philosophy that is an important element in her life and which makes listening an important skill for her. She is certainly in a great place for listening! Presently she is with us Tuesday mornings.

Away from the Upper Room she is a medical transcriptionist and secretary for a local plastic surgery practice. She enjoys being outside working in her garden and loves to experiment. planting something new every year. She is also an avid reader of medical fiction and especially enjoys the work of Patricia Cornwall.

Welcome "Sherry!"

~

Let there be music!

Member plays guitar

Every day at the Upper Room brings something interesting! On this day it was Chris and his guitar. Until Winter of 2011, he was a tool and die maker for a local company. Today he suffers from depression and is trying to qualify for disability income.

In the meantime, he writes , sings, and plays his guitar wherever he finds a congenial place and an audience. His resume also includes a stint as "mayor" of the recently dismantled Tent City along Erie's downtown railroad tracks. Welcome Chris! Hope you come back again!

~

Attention Teachers!

The Upper Room has produced a 25 minute video, "Portraits of Homelessness" which presents four homeless or formerly homeless men telling their story, and a study guide for young people: School, church, etc. If you would like a copy of this program and a discussion guide, contact us at uredirector at gmail.com.

~

Easter Dinner

Easter Dinner being served by volunteers at Upper Room of Erie

Tammy Young with her father, husband, and children, serve an Easter Sunday meal of ham, sweet potatoes, green beans and brownies at St. Paul's United Church of Christ. From Christ Methodist Church, they are part of a multi-church and school effort to provide a hot meal every Sunday afternoon in cooperation with the Upper Room of Erie. They do a great job, and we thank them on behalf of the hundreds of people they have served over the last several years.

~

Hope Song

I'm no dope, no, I'm no dope.
I'm smelly and I'm dirty, But I'm no dope.
My clothes are pretty ragged, and my beard's a joke.
I may not have a home, but I've still got hope.

My eyes woke up this morning , tho' my brain did not.
I was dreaming of my bedroom, when I was a tot.
Then my mom came in to kiss me, and she smiled a lot.
But the shelter worker woke me saying "fold your cot"

There's coffee at McDonalds, but it costs a buck.
So I'm headed to a shelter, and my new friend Chuck.
And together we'll hit the streets to try our luck
Maybe find some donuts softer than a hockey puck.

And when the day is ended, and the sun goes down
I dream of what my life will be when it turns around..
And somehow I'll find the strength to leave this town.
Then I'll start my life all over with the strength I've found

I'm no dope, no I'm no dope.
I'm smelly and I'm dirty, but I'm no dope.
My clothes are pretty ragged, and my beard's a joke.
I may not have a home, but I've still got hope.

....anon