Spring 2016 Newsletter: Words of Gratitude


The Director’s Column, The Blizzard, A Guest’s Story, Words of Gratitude, Shelter Statistics, Photos from the Cordon Bleu Picnic

Download: Words of Gratitude, PACEM Spring 2016 Newsletter (PDF, 2.0 MB)

Director’s Column

Dear friends,

We are inspired by many of the men and women we meet in our shelters. Hardship stories are just the tip of the iceberg—but a indication of trust nonetheless. Beyond the initial stories, each guest expresses the needs we all have for safety, love and respect. These men and women are, as a group, remarkably resilient. They ‘soldier on’, work creatively with the options they have, and leverage unique talents that could sometimes use some nurturing. The people we serve lead complicated and sometimes beautiful lives, and I know that I am not alone in feeling blessed to know these neighbors and to be a part of this work.

The work we do is the work of community, and there is no way to adequately express how grateful I am to all of you. Those who offer shelter, food, safety and kindness, those who offer support and guidance to guests and staff alike, and those who support PACEM time and again with generous financial donations. We can’t do what we do without the support of every one of you. So rest assured that your acts of kindness, both small and large, have not gone unnoticed. And…I’m wishing each of you a summer filled with joy,


The Blizzard

The snow was coming. Our guests and staff had been talking about it for days, so we had time to prepare. First United Methodist Church offered to be an emergency site, so we could move our men in from Ruckersville where they were staying at Spring Hill Baptist. Our women were already close in town. As the first few flakes fell, I sped over to our storage facility for more blankets and pillows for our men. My car was already sliding on the road. What were we in for? I found out when I asked a few of our guests to help set up at FUMC.

Something magical began to happen as guys like Wesley and Randy took over the arrangement of the sleeping area. Over the next few days, guests, volunteers, and staff pulled off a special weekend. Staff like Nadine, Brian, Tracy, and Sylvia put in extra hours. Our women’s site—Charlottesville Friends—let our ladies stay for 48 consecutive hours, maybe more. Spring Hill packed food in their four-wheel vehicles and brought it into town. Guests fed off this energy and were cooking and cleaning alongside volunteers and staff. Some of the normal boundaries evaporated as everyone rode out the blizzard.

As the snow melted, PACEM returned to its regular rhythms, a little worn out but strengthened by the knowledge that we not only survived the storm but triumphed by coming together.

Jayson Whitehead, Program Director

A Guest’s Story

Eric entered PACEM shelter in the beginning of March 2016. He knew he would need lots of support to get housed before the close of shelter season. Eric was also very self-aware and knew he suffered from mental illness and would need medication soon. He immediately came to see his Case Manager. After hearing his story she was able to help him get documents together to reinstate his SSI. PACEM also assisted in his connecting to Region Ten (R10) for services. His R10 Case Manager and PACEM case manager worked together to help him find housing and resources for his deposit and first month’s rent. On April 1 with one night to spare Eric moved into his new home. As of this writing Eric has his SSI, Medicaid and is enjoying life in his own home. He continues to work with R10 and PACEM’s case manager to maintain his stability.

Adriana Nicholson, Case Manager

Words of Gratitude

“I am trying to take better care of myself. The staff of PACEM made me feel welcome, safe and very cared for. My first night I felt alone and scared. Della welcomed me and made me feel safe…. Thank you so very much. I will never forget your kindness.”

“Thank you for helping me. I would have been in the street and not able to sleep. I wouldn’t have made it to work with the energy I needed. I was fed well and very thankful for the services I received.”

“PACEM has helped me get through a difficult time. I appreciate the organization of local resources and beautiful people who helped me get through this needy time in life. Thank you!”

“Lots of compassionate staff members—very inspiring to see them at work! For the most part, everyone is treated equally in this program. Thank you for helping me when I have been in trouble. Wouldn’t be climbing out of the hole I dug myself without your kind assistance. I will never forget you…. Blessings to you all”

Shelter Statistics
  • An average of 34 men and 8 women slept at PACEM each night.
  • Throughout the year, over 219 adults were sheltered.
  • The average length of stay for any one individual was approximately one month.
  • PACEM assisted 75 individuals in finding permanent homes.
  • 6,524 nights of shelter were provided.

Thanks to you, a total of 79,732 bed nights have been provided since PACEM opened its doors in 2004.

But of course, we have so much more to do! Despite the growing availability of program dollars for permanent supportive and rapid re-housing, there is still not enough (see our exit placement graph on page 3). The existence of life-saving low-barrier shelters is critical to both the health of our guests and the health of our community.

Total Homeless guests per shelter season

Age of Homeless Guests

Exit Placement 2015-16

See you next year and as always, thank you!

With these pictures we hope to share some of the magic of this spring’s Cordon Bleu Picnic at Ash Lawn Highland. Join us next year! The event is a blast and one of the more enjoyable ways to support your seasonal homeless shelter!

This year’s event brought in over $6,000 in support for our shelters


PACEM is a seasonal shelter of last resort. We provide thermal shelter to folks who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets or in the woods during the coldest months of the year. We serve those who do not meet the eligibility requirements of other area shelters. And, we rely heavily on the local faith community. Congregations open their doors and hearts. They turn sacred spaces into shelter. Congregations provide safety, food, community and compassion! Our homeless friends are struggling with multiple challenges, and many lack the necessary social supports to meet those challenges on their own. Our case management team walks with our guests through the application processes for housing, employment, health care, and other mainstream social services. The temporary thermal shelter model works because it is cost effective and uses donated space, meals, and volunteers. It engages the entire community. And it is necessarily short-term, which encourages quick movement toward housing stability. PACEM provides an opportunity to meet basic needs for warmth, safety and food, and along the way creates real community among people of many faiths, prevents possible acts of desperation and gives homeless individuals hope and real connection to the faith community of Charlottesville-Albemarle. With the possibility of physical safety, individuals are better able to take next steps out of homelessness. Want to know more? Give us a call and schedule a visit. We’d love to meet you!

Hosting Congregations to whom we are deeply grateful
  • Aldersgate United Methodist Church
  • Beautiful Gate Ministry
  • Belmont Baptist Church
  • Charlottesville Friends Meeting
  • Church of Our Saviour Episcopal
  • Church of the Incarnation
  • City Church Congregation Beth Israel
  • Cornerstone Community Church
  • First Baptist Church, West Main
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • Ivy Creek United Methodist Church
  • Laurel Hill Baptist Church
  • Maple Grove Christian Church
  • Olivet Presbyterian Church
  • Peace Lutheran Church
  • Portico Church
  • Sojourners United Church of Christ
  • Spring Hill Baptist Church
  • St. Mark Lutheran Church
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Ivy
  • St. Paul’s Memorial Church
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church
  • Trinity Presbyterian Church
  • University Baptist Church
  • Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church
  • Westminster Presbyterian Church

Thank you for the support and compassion you have shown for our neighbors who are homeless. This past season, we have provided care to over 219 individuals. Individual donations are so important to our program. Each gift matters. Clients continue to visit us during the summer months to share accomplishments both large and small. They turn to us for continued support as they try to turn their lives around. The shelter season may be over but we still need your help. Please consider a generous gift to support our neighbors in crisis.