Christmas Newsletter 2015 - Spotlight on Emmanuel House

December 2015

View a PDF version of Christmas Spotlight 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Christmas is just days away, and soon we’ll come together as Catholics with family and friends to celebrate the gifts God has given us...the gift of eternal life. The gift of comfort. The gift of peace.

And, of course, we celebrate God’s greatest gift of all...the true meaning of Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ.

In celebration of the birth of Jesus to his mother, Mary, we discover the true meaning of Christmas is not about excess or lavish gifts. God chose impoverished Mary for a reason. It’s about the spirit of giving the power of love to one another in the name of God.

Of the many ministries the Diocese of Providence support, this true spirit of giving can be found at the Emmanuel House in Providence during Christmas and throughout the year.

Bishop Tobin and the Diocese of Providence opened the Emmanuel House shelter in 2010 to provide additional warm beds for those in need and without a place to sleep in Providence.

The Diocese of Providence has continued its partnership with the state of Rhode Island to provide emergency shelter year round. The state provides most of the funds for staffing at the shelter.

Support for Homeless Men in Providence

Since then, many of Providence’s homeless, ranging in age and from various backgrounds, have come through the doors of Emmanuel House each night. The men’s shelter serves some military veterans, or those in need of medical care. Often, the men have disabilities, or have become burdened with drug and alcohol addiction.

If not for the staff and volunteers at the Emmanuel House, and caring Catholics who support the Catholic Charity Appeal, these men in need would not have a warm place to rest. Most would continue to struggle outdoors on the cold, winter nights... sleeping on sidewalks, park benches, or outside the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul just down the street from Emmanuel House.

Director Dottie Perrault and her Emmanuel House staff practice the spirit of giving each and every day, helping each man...going above and beyond to provide more than just a bed and a meal.

During the day, when the shelter is closed, Dottie can be found working with anyone who asks for her help. She helps them find work, connects men with valuable resources such as healthcare and insurance, and provides the many needs that would go unmet without her giving heart.

“We are more than just beds. We are their safety net.” -Dottie Perrault

At the time when he was homeless, Brett Perry turned to Emmanuel House. Looking for a place to rest, he, too, found much more than just a bed.

Three years after that first night he walked through those doors, Brett has turned his life around. He lives in his own home, and recently joined the staff as an employee at Emmanuel House.

“This place means so much to me. They have given me so much. The people who work here saved my life. Now I want to give back and help someone else the same way Dottie and everyone here at Emmanuel House helped me.”

The men who turn to Emmanuel House receive additional necessities many of us may take for granted, such as a clean change of clothes, access to showers, and a private space to change.

Brett has come a long way from where he once was. And, as Dottie said, “He has a huge heart.”

Homeless with a medical condition for over five years, Brett turned to Emmanuel House for help. Dottie and her staff helped him receive required medical care, assisted him in the process of obtaining health insurance, and was able to get him into a reputable rehabilitation program.

Today, Brett is a role model for each man who turns to Emmanuel House. He’s ever so grateful for the staff and volunteers, the Diocese of Providence, and those who support the Diocese and its ministries through the Catholic Charity Appeal.

Brett spends his days cleaning, cooking, and helping the men who come to Emmanuel House each night. He’s found a passion caring for the garden built in the old playground behind their building, a former preschool.

With the help of the local community and volunteers like David Gillis, they salvaged wood from the playground and received supplies donated from area businesses to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes, string beans, peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and more.

They’ve grown so much food, they’re able to share their fresh fruits and vegetables with other local shelters. There’s a memorial rose garden for past clients and staff members they’ve lost.

Throughout the building, you’ll even find many plants and flowers Brett has saved from the outside elements, bringing them back to life in pots you’ll find around the shelter, placed in front of large, sunlit windows.

Brett said he’s still working on his “happy ending,” although he’s certainly on his way. He plans to attend CCRI to continue his education and become an RN. He would also like to write a book about his experiences on both sides of the doors to Emmanuel House.


“Men don’t know how to get out of (being homeless). We can help them. This is where Emmanuel House comes in.” — Brett Perry

Dottie knows she’ll spend her Christmas, as she does most holidays, at Emmanuel House. The guests will once again receive a full Christmas dinner and a gift bag filled with warm clothing and other useful items from Bishop Tobin and local parishes.

Jesus teaches us to give. And that’s why giving is such a wonderful and joyous way to celebrate His birth. Giving is how we show our love for one another and, when combined with beautiful Christmas trees, tinsel, candy canes, and red-bowed wreaths, it makes Christmas a truly magical holiday.

From all of us at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

View a PDF version of Christmas Spotlight 2015





Office of Stewardship & Development
One Cathedral Square
Providence, RI 02903
Ph: 401.277.2121