Franciscans Downtown: Five years of connecting the community
By Taylor J. Hale
STEVENS POINT – Franciscans Downtown first invited the community into their unique storefront space to rest and share stories on June 1, 2014. The Catholic-based operation is now celebrating its fifth anniversary on Main Street on June 29 by welcoming the public for an afternoon of art, connection and gratitude.
“These five years signify that there is a confirmation that has come from the city and the people, and we are just grateful that this has been able to unfold in such a way,” said Friar Placid Stroik, a founding member of the establishment.
Over the last five years, Franciscans Downtown has developed into what Stroik calls a particular type of “waiting room.”
“It’s almost like a waiting room,” he said. “People are waiting for a job, a home or an interview. Franciscans Downtown is a place of hospitality and a place where people await the next step in the journey of their life.”
The lobby of the modest building offers the homeless population of Stevens Point and other visitors a place to browse the internet for prospective jobs and living spaces during daytime hours. Volunteers at the establishment are eager to listen to guests, and free coffee and bottled water are always on site.
“There is a steady group of people that come in that is technically homeless in the city, and we just responded to the need that was there,” Stroik explained. “It’s a place for people to come in during the day to come and rest. They look for jobs and apartments to live in on their smartphones.”
Franciscans Downtown is an open “commons area” where anyone can rest, read or share their stories with new friends. Their mission is to offer a public safe-space for visitors from different cultural backgrounds to connect and grow together.
The anniversary celebration will feature a discussion with Friar Jim Gannon, Provincial of the Franciscans, and Mayor Mike Wiza. Guests can also enjoy free drinks, snacks, and artwork at the event.
The Franciscans Downtown Open House will be held on June 29, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Franciscans Downtown is located at 1000 Main Street, Stevens Point.