What is the Camillus House Miami Courtyard Program?
Miami, Florida, USA. Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have offered a presence to a homeless men's shelter and addiction rehabilitation center for several decades. This center is administered by the Hospitallers of St John of God The mission of Camillus House is to provide Christian hospitality and respect for life through direct services of food, clothing, shelter, addiction counseling, behavioral health and job training, and health care to the poor and homeless of South Florida. There are many persons without shelter in South Florida drawn to the area by its semi-tropical climate, many with behavioral disorders unwilling to accept the invitation to live indoors. In Miami and surrounding areas, on an average night, persons on the street amount to an an astounding close to two thousand!
There is a great overflow of men who accept daytime shelter from the scorching sun. Consequently, there is a program of activities to help them use their time well, for example, to hear a speaker, see a video, attend a religious service, play a card game, and/or get involved in arts and crafts. A clever strategy of the Brothers is that participation in two activities entitles one to a lunch ticket! The arts and crafts program led by a Handmaid is held in a large outdoor courtyard. The men genuinely like making things; some of which they sell on the streets. On the other hand, when they win a small edible prize at BINGO, it is amazing to see them open their snack right away to share it.
Recently, Brother Bill, a much loved Hospitaller died. One of the guests cried desperately upon hearing this sad news. Men who wished were bused to his funeral liturgy. Three Handmaids attended both the wake and funeral. "During these years" of accompanying homeless and mentally ill men, "we have experienced that our task is to accompany, to share what is most authentic in our charism, and to celebrate the fact that our mission is enriched"... [GCXX] by these our doubly stricken brothers, deprived financially and mentally.