February, 2020

 Divine Word Youth Group Assembles Toiletry Kits 

We are pleased to report that Joseph House was awarded a 2019 Good Samaritan Grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation in the amount of $5,000 to create toiletry kits for our clients. On Sunday, Feb. 2 the Divine Word Youth Group helped us to assemble the first 200 toiletry kits in Hanson Hall at Divine Word. The kits contain full-size shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant and lip balm.

The students also learned about the mission of Joseph House from Board members Joan Laux and Sharon O’Flaherty. In the coming months we will have 2 more assembly sessions as the funding will enable us to create over 600 toiletry kits for our clients. We are deeply grateful to the Sisters of Charity Foundation and to Amanda Perusek, the Divine Word Youth Minister and her wonderful young crew for helping this idea become a reality!


Superbowl Sunday Benefit Event

for Joseph House of Cleveland!


American Slovenian Catholic Union KSKJLife Lodges #146 & #169 are sponsoring an "AFC vs NFC Watch Party" to benefit Joseph House.

The evening will feature food, fun, side boards, and much more. Come join us!

Date & Time: Sunday, February 2nd

Doors open at 5:30pm. Food & beverages will be served at 5:45pm.

Location: St. Mary's Parish, 15519 Holmes Avenue, Cleveland

(event will take place in the school cafeteria)


*There is a limit of 100 tickets to be sold, with payouts the first quarter, halftime, third quarter and the final score. Winner need not be present to win.

*Squares can be purchased for $30 each by contacting John Nemec at 216-924-9384 or Josie Kmet at 216-267-4866.  

This is a KSKJLife Matching Funds Benefit.    


December, 2018

A Gift of Shoes

   by Sharon O’Flaherty

                In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord directs their steps.

Proverbs 16:9



I became involved with Joseph House about six years ago, after reading about the need for volunteers in the Divine Word Sunday bulletin. To my pleasant surprise, the first person I met on my first day there was my former neighbor, Joan Laux, who is the manager of the clothing bank. We both now serve on the Board of Directors, and often chat about how we can further our mission of serving refugees and local residents.

We have been blessed by the generosity of so many through the years! I truly enjoy the camaraderie and friendships that have developed at Joseph House, both with our clients and the volunteers. It is gratifying to help someone find something that fits and suits them and will help them as they navigate the twists and turns of their unique and challenging journeys.  

One of the needs I have been focusing on is footwear. For quite a while I have been commenting, praying (some might say kvetching) about the fact that sometimes we don’t have shoes in the size that our client needs. Most of our shoes are donated as gently used and popular sizes and styles go fast. I have done some research and we are looking into applying for grants that might help us address this need. 

In the meantime, on a Thursday in late October, Michelle O’Donnell, our Director of Operations, received a call from Dr. Thomas Mathew from St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church in Macedonia. One of their parishioners managed Shoe Time, a shoe store on Buckeye Road in Cleveland that was closing. They offered to donate some brand new shoes to Joseph House. If we were interested, we needed to pick the shoes up from the store the following Monday afternoon.

Michelle emailed me and I said yes, prayer answered! A few days later, my husband (whose car is bigger than mine) drove with me to the store, not quite knowing what to expect. Inside the store, some shoppers were scrambling to take advantage of the closing sale at the same time workers were disassembling the shelves that had displayed the shoes. A huge mound of shoes was in the center of the store, some in boxes, some loose, along with shoes and boots around the perimeter of the store. We were warmly greeted by the manager, Reena, who told us to take what we could carry- no carts or bags were available. 

For a shoe lover, this was something of a dream come true for me! But I could see the apprehension on my husband’s face. He does not particularly enjoy shopping, and is of the minimalist school of footwear. But we set out gathering sneakers, flats, sandals and boots for men, women and kids. One of the employees gave us a couple boxes to fill, and we made many trips out to the parking lot, then back in to reload. 

When the car was packed to the max, we expressed our gratitude to Reena and Thomas and Shoe Time. Back at home, we unloaded the car and I counted and sorted all the shoes, boots and sandals. We were gifted with 193 pairs of kids’ shoes and 51 pairs of footwear for adults, for a grand total of 244 pairs!  

A few days later I delivered the shoes to Joseph House. Later that morning I helped a sweet five year old girl while her mother looked for clothing for her other children. Her mother told me the little girl needed a pair of sneakers.  When she tried on one of the new pairs from a shiny blue box, her smile lit up the whole room. Mission accomplished!

Many more people will be joyfully stepping away from Joseph House in a new pair of shoes because of this generous donation.

A very special thanks to Shoe Time and St. Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church. 

Join us for a Christmas concert to benefit Joseph House

November, 2018

This year Joseph House is participating in #weGiveCatholic!

On Tuesday, November 27th, the Catholic community will come together for a one-day giving event, sharing love and financial support with Catholic organizations throughout Northeast Ohio.

By visiting this website between 12:00am-11:59pm, donations can be made to support the ongoing ministry work of Joseph House:


Donations can be made in any increment starting at $20.00, and can only be accepted on November 27th. Every little bit helps! 

 We thank you for keeping refugees and Cleveland local residents warm and well cared for this winter.  


October, 2018


September 30th was a joyous day, as we met the Most Reverend Nelson Perez, Bishop of Cleveland, during his visit to Joseph House. Bishop Perez spent time meeting with a refugee family who lives here, and blessed our new Clothing Bank.

Joseph House featured in Northeast Ohio Catholic Magazine


Read more of the magazine here:

Northeast Ohio Catholic September/October 2018.  


September, 2018

We invite you to join us for our Open House on

Sunday, September 30th!

August, 2018

Joseph House was recently featured in a Plain Dealer article, which highlighted our Clothing Bank renovation and expansion. Read the article HERE


Are you a college grad? Looking for a career change? Seeking to make a difference in your community? 

Notre Dame Mission Volunteers is looking for AmeriCorps volunteers to serve in the Cleveland area for the 2018-2019 year at their service site Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services, a partner of Joseph House. AmeriCorps volunteers receive a living stipend of $13,732 and an Education Award of $5,920 upon completion of their service. We at Joseph House have seen the life-changing work these volunteers do each day. For more information, contact Marissa Panzarella at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


July, 2018

Joseph House has moved! 

May 12, 2018 was a day of joy we will always remember. 

38 volunteers from St. Edward High School, Immaculate Conception, St. Vitus, Divine Word, St. Paul Croatian, and Joseph House came together to move the clothing bank to its new location. 


The morning of May 12th. Our new (but still empty) clothing bank, showing the just-completed new drywall, paint, clothing racks, and refinished original hardwood floors. 

Work in progress


God held off the forecasted rain as clothing, shoes, and racks were all moved to our new space, in just under 2 hours!



After: the move is complete! 


 After the move, we spent a few weeks finishing projects and getting the Clothing Bank ready for guests. In May we began serving Congolese and Nepalese refugees, and in June we opened back up to serve the local neighborhood. 

It has been such a joy to see guests receiving items they need, and we look forward to the many things God will do here. 


April, 2018

Refugees In The News

When refugees come to Cleveland, what is the experience like for them? Where do they live? Where do they work?

The Plain Dealer is focusing on a series of articles about Cleveland's new immigrants. The first article features the Congolese, the largest group of refugees resettled in Cleveland during 2016-2017.

Enjoy the article, a short video, & slideshow HERE. 


Less than two months remain until our move, and the new Clothing Bank space looks better each week!


  Drywall installation has been completed.

HVAC ductwork has been installed for the new furnace & air conditioning unit.

Plumbing and electrical work are finished. 

Next projects will include hooking up the furnace, drywall mudding & sanding, and painting. 


March, 2018

Progress is being made at the new location of our Clothing Bank, with our projected move-in date only a few months away!


Original hardwood floors have been sanded and stained a beautiful dark mahogany.


Drywall studs and framing are going up.


A crew of dedicated and energetic volunteers from St. Ed's High School & Divine Word Church in Kirtland helped clear out the area to prepare for remodeling.  


Check back soon to see progress!


January, 2018 

Joseph House Benefit
Join us for a night
filled with Food, Faith, & Fun 

"Cooks Cooking With Soul"

Saturday, February 10th

6:00-9:00 PM
Divine Word Catholic Church, Hanson Hall
8100 Eagle Road in Kirtland, Ohio
Sample a collection of homemade specialties and international foods from the Divine Word Parish Cookbook, along with some new recipes, all served by the cooks. 

*The evening will also feature a Chinese Auction*

Beverages will be provided. BYOB.

Tickets are $20.00 per person
$7.00 for children age 13 and under

Only 150 tickets are available!
Purchase yours today by calling 440-256-1412 or visiting the Divine Word Church Office. 


December, 2017

"Out of The Garden" is a short film documenting the refugee crisis as it pertains to Northeast Ohio. 

It was produced by two of our partners, St. Edward High School and Cleveland Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services.  

 Watch the film here. 


November, 2017

Renovations have begun! 

We are thrilled to announce that our Clothing Bank expansion project has officially kicked off.


In the coming months we will be moving our Clothing Bank into a new storefront that is twice the size of our current space. This will enable us to serve more people because of the larger area, and to offer shoppers a wider variety of items

 The new location for our Clothing Bank, where much work is underway. Check back soon to see progress!


September, 2017

We can hardly find the words to express our gratitude to Holy Angels Church in Chagrin Falls. 

During their "Christmas In July" event, parishioners purchased brand new socks, underwear, undershirts, and other personal items for shoppers of Joseph House. These items are some of our most requested, but often the hardest to get donated. 

As volunteers unloaded four giant bags full of donations, we could hardly believe our eyes. These items are exactly what shoppers need, and will make so many people very happy. 

This generosity is so far beyond anything we could have imagined. Thank you Holy Angels Church for your overwhelming kindness. May God bless you all in very special ways as you have blessed us. 


August, 2017


 It's that time of year again!

Do you or someone you know need assistance with clothing? The Joseph House Clothing Bank carries a large selection of gently used items for men, women, and children. 

Call 216-431-7200 to set up a shopping appointment.

We look forward to seeing you!


July, 2017

This handwritten prayer request was given to us by a refugee woman from Myanmar. She and her two teenage daughters came to Cleveland and were reunited with their father, who came here 3 years ago.

Will you join us in praying for this family?


June, 2017

We received a wonderful visit from the

Cleveland Police Department, 5th District!


 Officers stopped by to give us children's and adult clothing that they had personally collected from friends and family. It didn't take long before the boxes were opened and shoppers began finding all sorts of great things inside.

Stay up to date on all the ways Cleveland officers are improving our city one life at a time by visiting their Facebook and Twitter pages. Thank you Cleveland Police Department!


May, 2017

Summer is here, and with it has come fresh energy from our incredible volunteers!

Students from St. Martin de Porres High School (located right around the corner) joined us on a Saturday morning to help get our Clothing Bank ready for warm weather.

They brought great enthusiasm and willing hearts to serve as they stored away scarves and winter coats and filled our racks with shorts, capris, t-shirts, and bathing suits. Thank you so much!


A few weeks later, students, parents, staff and alumni from St. Edward High School in Lakewood came to serve during their Spring Day of Service.

Not only did they serve Joseph House, but also St. Vitus Church and Vitus Village-Senior Citizens Independent Living, both partners in our ministry. Students used their muscles to clear out old tvs from a space we plan to renovate and expand our Clothing Bank. Other neighborhood projects included landscaping and preparing a home for refugees to live. To all who gave time and energy to bring new life to our neighborhood, thank you!

For more information and photos from the Spring Day of Service, visit the St. Vitus Church website.


April, 2017

Thank you to all who came to support Joseph House at the  

St. Vitus Palm Sunday Benefit Dinner!

Over 500 chicken and roast beef dinners were served to a sellout crowd. Warm sunny weather combined with a delicious meal and new friendships made for a memorable day!  

To all the volunteers who gave their time to make this possible, and everyone who so generously supported our ministry, we are so thankful to each of you. You gifts help us continue serving neighbors from Cleveland and around the world.



Read about Joseph House in the Plain Dealer here!

Sunday, April 2, 2017


March, 2017

A huge thank you goes out to an amazing group of young students in the Blouin Global Scholars Program who held a clothing drive on the campus of Walsh University to benefit Joseph House! 

These students collected so much clothing that their storage room on campus could not hold all of it! We received boxes of beautiful winter coats, cozy socks, much-needed undergarments, pants, and warm sweaters. These items will clothe refugees from around the world and our neighbors here in Cleveland.

Thank you for all the time and dedication you gave that made this happen! God bless you. To every faculty member and student who donated, we are so grateful!


February, 2017

Isn't it exciting to see change? To see new life come from something that is old, outdated, tired, and worn?

We have seen the exciting transformation of an apartment being renovated to house refugees.

When we first got this apartment, it hadn't been occupied in years. It was shabby and in disrepair, but that did not stop our volunteers from Sisters of Notre Dame from completely clearing it out, furniture, carpeting, and all! Not to mention an old tv that was bigger than the volunteers themselves!



Once the apartment was cleared out, the work began. The apartment needed electrical work, new windows, a new furnace and hot water tank, drywall repairs, a new tub and shower, flooring, new appliances, and fresh paint throughout.

Volunteers from St. Vitus, Divine Word Church, St. Edward High School, and Help to Others (H2O) were instrumental in making the place come alive again.

We were supported through grants from The Richman Brothers, The Frances & Jane S. Lausche Foundation, and The St. Mary Seminary Outreach Trust Fund, as well donations from many individuals who enabled us to make the needed repairs. To each and every one of you who gave your time and treasure to turn this apartment into a warm, cozy home, thank you!


December, 2016

Christmas at Joseph House has been full of joy!

A very special thank you to the Cleveland Police Department, 5th District, who took time out of their holiday schedule to visit the refugee families living here. They went above and beyond to bring gifts for the children and spread Christmas cheer. We are so thankful not only for your visit, but for all you do for our neighborhood and city every day.



A huge THANK YOU goes out to the following individuals and groups. Your gifts brought hope to so many refugees and local neighbors this Christmas.

Dassault Systemes

Divine Word Church Our Lady's Guild

Families in Christ Jesus

Immaculate Conception Church

Tuesday Fast Hikers Lake County Hiking Group

The Mayer Family

Volunteer painters from Divine Word Church

St. Ignatius High School

We wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a New Year filled with joy and peace. 


 August, 2016 

 We are so excited about our upcoming

Volunteer Painting Day! 

Volunteers are invited to join us in painting an apartment for refugees. Your involvement will put us one step closer to hosting a new refugee family in this apartment.


When? Saturday, August 27th 9AM-4PM

Where? 6104 St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland, 44103

Come for a few hours, or stay for the day! This will be a fun event for friends and families, and a great time to get to know others in the neighborhood. 

Please let us know if you plan to attend!

 May-June, 2016

"The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for."

           We have been reminded of this so clearly over the past month. In May, Joseph House welcomed a new family to one of our apartments. This family is absolutely beautiful, with a joy for life and genuine smiles that can make anyone's day better.

          The family is Congolese, but spent many, many years in a refugee camp in Rwanda before coming to Cleveland. With circumstances like these, it would be understandable if they were worn out, frustrated, and angry. But we see the exact opposite. They are welcoming, loving, and giving, offering us lunch on their second day in Cleveland (at the time we should have been making them feel at home)!

          As we were getting to know them, we asked what the biggest differences were between Rwanda and Cleveland. Their answer was "basic needs". "In Rwanda, we don't have our basic needs, but here we do." Wow. It sure gives a new perspective on our lives here.

          This family is content with what can be considered in America to be a very simple lifestyle. They do not yet own a car, do not have a computer or a flat screen tv, and do not have any vacations planned this summer. Yet their joy comes from something so much deeper. They have each other, and they are content to have what they need. To them, that is a full life. Their presence has encouraged us, inspired us, and challenged us in a good way, as we reconsider what we see as important.


April, 2016

 When you think of the word refugee, what comes to your mind? Which country do you immediately think of?

While Cleveland resettles hundreds of refugees each year, it is not always easy to get a good picture of who these people are. What do they look like? Where did they come from? How did they get here? 

A few facts about our new neighbors:

Many of the refugees resettling in Cleveland are from Nepal, Syria, Congo, and Sudan. 

1 out of every 4 refugees being resettled in the United States is a single mom.

98% of refugee children coming to Cleveland have never known life outside a refugee camp.

Most of Cleveland's adult refugees have lived in a refugee camp for approximately 18 years.


March, 2016

As the weather begins to warm up, we are hosting a Spring Open House! Usually guests shop by appointment only, but a few times a year we open our doors for anyone in need to stop by, no appointment needed.

If you or anyone you know can benefit from this event, please stop by!


Joseph House Clothing Bank 

Spring Open House



Joseph House

6104 St. Clair Avenue

Cleveland, OH 44103


Friday, April 8th • 11:00-2:00 pm


Open to the community. 

No appointment needed.


For questions, call Joseph House (216) 431-7200


Joseph House is a ministry to assist all who come in need, through a partnership of the following Catholic Churches:

St. Vitus, Cleveland    St. Paul’s, Cleveland

Immaculate Conception, Cleveland    Divine Word, Kirtland



December, 2015- January, 2016: Answered Prayers 

This past year we have seen God do amazing things at Joseph House! As we take time to look over 2015, we see the many ways that God has been at work here. We would like to share with you a few examples of what can only be described as “God stories."

1. Right When We Needed Help- During 2015, we began fixing up our property and renovating two refugee apartments. In November, we were at a point in our work where we really needed volunteer help to continue. We thought about who we might be able to contact, but before we even reached out to anyone, the youth minister from Divine Word Catholic Church called, asking if there was anything his youth group could help with! There sure was!


The Saturday after Thanksgiving, a group of 4 students and the youth minister came down to Joseph House and began painting the living room, a bedroom, and interior doors in one of our apartments. They did an awesome job and were so much fun to have around! The morning was full of laughs and hard work. We were blown away to see students give up their Saturday morning to serve people they did not even know. Thank you for serving! 

2. Hearts to Serve- During the summer, we acquired an empty apartment to use for additional refugee housing. It hadn't been occupied in years, and had miscellaneous old items; mattresses, tvs, curtains, ect. from previous tenants. One of our first volunteer groups to help was from Sisters of Notre Dame and was comprised of students from all different schools, even a student from Florida! Our goal for the group was to begin clearing the items out of the apartment so renovations could begin. We rented a ginormous dumpster and hoped that we could get the project off to a good start.

Within an hour of getting there, the students had not only begun clearing out the entire apartment (furniture and all), they completely emptied it, and removed all the old carpeting too! They had the best attitudes and were excited and ready to pitch in and do anything we needed. Thank you for your enthusiasm and hard work! It got our project off to an exciting start.

3. Welcome Surprises- This past year we began partnering with St. Edward High School in Lakewood. Their students have been incredible to work with and have jumped right in to serve our guests at the Clothing Bank. A few months ago, we scheduled a day for the students to come volunteer. About a week before they were scheduled to come, we got a knock on the door, and it was two students from St. Ed’s!

At first we wondered if maybe there had been a mixup with the dates. But as it turned out, the students had been volunteering around the block at St. Vitus, and stopped by to see if we needed a hand with anything. We invited them in and gave them some small projects to work on. (To preface the rest of this story, our Clothing Bank had been very low on boys’ clothes, sizes 2T-6T. We had asked around for donations, especially for pants, but were not able to find the sizes we needed.)

About a half hour later, there was another knock on the door! We opened the door to find Mike, a man who owns a consignment shop right across the street. He told us that he had 6 boxes to donate! The boys and some of our other volunteers went across the street to bring the boxes over. We opened the boxes and were amazed to find brand new boys clothes!!! Sweatshirts, the small sized pants we had been needing for months, school uniforms, ect. It was amazing! 

That day we not only received the exact clothing we needed, we also had volunteers to hang all the clothes up for guests. 

4. Christmas Comes to Joseph House- This past year, in addition to providing clothing, we began collecting toiletry items for our guests. There is such a huge need for them, and they fly off the shelves! We were getting low on our supply when we heard that Our Lady's Guild from Divine Word Catholic Church had come up with an idea to collect more. Instead of doing their usual Christmas gift exchange and buying gifts for each other, the members were each purchasing full size toiletry items and donating them to Joseph House! Amazing! We couldn't believe it, and were so excited to hear the news.

When the toiletries arrived at Joseph House, we were amazed at what we saw! Bags and bags full of shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, cologne, shaving cream, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and more! The items were covered in Christmas ribbons and bows and looked so pretty and festive!

Even though we put out the items in December, we are still celebrating Christmas here as guests come in and receive these much needed blessings. For mothers to be able to provide hygiene items for their children, for refugees who come to Cleveland with nothing but one travel bag, for grandfathers who specially choose items for their grandchildren, it has been amazing to see how many people have been touched by this donation. Thank you all so, so much! 

5. Warm Clothes for Winter- As the fall turned into a relatively warm winter in November and December, we realized how low we were on winter items-coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. One of our partner churches, Immaculate Conception in Cleveland, put a notice in their bulletin asking parishioners for specific clothing needs. A few weeks ago we received the clothing they had collected- bags and bags of just what we needed! Shoes that were like-new, beautiful winter coats for adults and children, hats, gloves, even some bedding. The clothing is on the shelves and ready for guests, just in time for this cold weather! Thank you to all who gave! 

6. God's Providence- Each week, Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services brings a group of refugees to the Clothing Bank to shop. This past week we welcomed a group of 7 men from Nepal, Tanzania, Burma, and Somalia who had just gotten construction jobs building houses in the Cleveland area. They were starting work soon and needed work clothes. They shopped around for sweatshirts and coats, then came to the shoe room to look for footwear. Two of the men had success, one mentioning that “these are exactly my size” as he tried his work boots on. The other modeled his shoes as we took photos. The rest of the group looked, but were not able to find anything in their size.

The woman from Catholic Charities who brought these young men in told me that it was okay, they were going to K-Mart next to buy shoes for anyone who couldn’t find them. “But the cool thing is”, she mentioned, “the two guys who found shoes were the two who didn’t have any money to buy new ones.” Wow! It is amazing to hear stories like that, of the details we can never work out, yet God knows. The group of refugees headed out to continue shopping, but not before letting us know that if we ever needed a new house, to let them know!

There are so many more stories to share, the details of how God has provided in ways we could never dream.  It is so amazing to see the ways God answers prayer, sometimes before we even ask.

He does more than we can ask or imagine.

To all of you who have been a part of volunteering, giving, donating, and supporting us, we cannot thank you enough. 

November, 2015  

This month our spotlight is on our VOLUNTEERS!  

They are the reason we can do what we do. It’s nearly impossible to tell how many guests’ days have been brightened or problems seemed more bearable because of the love and support our volunteers give each week. We all want to make a difference in the corner of the world where we are. This month we will focus on a few women from Joseph House who are doing just that.

A Joseph House volunteer assists a young shopper. 


How long have you been volunteering at the Joseph House Clothing Bank? How did you begin volunteering, or what led you to get involved?


Joan:  I started volunteering at Joseph House approximately 4 years ago after seeing a request for workers in our Sunday bulletin at Divine Word Church.  After volunteering there for a year or so, the previous director of the clothing bank stepped down.  I saw the need to fill her position and stepped in.


Ana: I have been volunteering at Joseph House for three years, since 2012.  I heard about the need through St. Paul Croatian Church. I was retired, and had about a month or so in between visiting my kids. I figured “time’s a wasting" and I needed to do something with my life. Just because you’re retired, you can’t sit on the couch!


Kathy: I have been volunteering at Joseph House for 2 1/2 years.  I saw Joan's request for volunteers in our Divine Word bulletin.  What I read just touched my heart and I called her right away and have been volunteering on a weekly basis ever since.  I welcome and help the many people that come to shop at our beautiful little clothing store. I have seen it grow into a very organized, warm and friendly place for refugees and local residents to visit. 


What is your favorite part about volunteering?


Joan: My favorite part of the Joseph House experience is not only helping clothe the disadvantaged local people and refugees that Catholic Charities sends us, but also working with an amazing group of other volunteers.


Ana: I enjoy meeting different people and having that feeling at the end of the day that someone is better off because we are there to do what we can. It makes me think and remember times in my life when I was only two paychecks away from needing help myself.


I love spending a few hours of my week with all the sweet ladies I have been privileged to meet and work with, as well as talented young people who are willing to share their time for the cause.


Kathy: I love talking to our shoppers and learning who they are, where they are from, and most importantly what is happening in their lives. I am humbled by their stories and that makes me ever more grateful for all that I am blessed with. 


Is there a specific story or shopper that stands out in your mind or has made an impact on you?


Joan:  Most recently, I watched a small little five-year-old Congolese girl fill a HUGE bag of clothing for both her and her brother.  When she was unable to pick the bag up, she patted the top of her head.  It was then I realized she wanted my assistance in putting the bag on top of her head so that she might carry it that way!!!  I was both amazed and humbled at the same time.


Ana: I have been impacted most by that expression on people’s face of wonder and disbelief that says "why are these people doing all this"?


Kathy: My favorite shopper is a man named John.  He always is so appreciative of what clothing he finds and gives me a big hug to say so.  Recently his dear friend died and John shared with me the story of the difficult life his friend had.  I felt honored to be there for John.  I am proud and grateful to be a part of Joseph House and really feel that I have found my true life purpose.   


October, 2015

The Joseph House Clothing Bank is ready for winter! Thanks to a group of big-hearted students from St. Martin de Porres High School who volunteered to help, we switched out our summer for winter clothes. The Clothing Bank is now stocked with a beautiful selection of warm coats and jackets; hats, gloves and scarves; sweaters and sweatshirts; cozy socks and pajamas, and winter boots.

We are so thankful for our partnership with St. Martin de Porres, our neighbor right around the corner! They have been a help to us, and we have been able to provide clothing to their students in need. A sweet young student came to the Joseph House Clothing Bank, and a few weeks later mailed us this note:

“Thank you so much for the school clothes. They are really helping me get through the days. Your organization is so helpful for students like me who need things to survive the school year. Thank you and have a wonderful year!!”  Wow, how thoughtful!  

Typically, Joseph House is open by appointment only. But every few months, we host an Open House for neighbors to come shop without an appointment. On November 4th, the Joseph House Clothing Bank will host a Fall Open House for anyone in our neighborhood who is in need. Past Open Houses have brought in over 30 guests, and we are expecting a big turnout for this one as temperatures continue to drop.

The Clothing Bank outreach is growing quickly. Over the past year, we have scheduled over 700 shopping visits for refugees and local residents. We have met beautiful people from our neighborhood and around the world, and are so thankful to serve.  

 September, 2015

Joseph House has been extremely blessed by a recent fundraiser. An appeal letter was sent out to supporters of Joseph House in April, and since then has grown to include new supporters and friends! The fundraiser was a huge success, and we have been blown away by the generosity we have seen and are continuing to receive. To all of you who have been a part of this huge endeavor, thank you! We could not do what we do without you.

All donations will go toward updating our existing apartments and renovating additional apartments to provide more refugee housing. Over the past few months, donations have been put to use updating an apartment which will soon house a family of 6 from Congo. The apartment, which was in need of much work, got an entire makeover, including: 

  • All new windows; new window blinds & shades
  • Two new doors & a new mailbox
  • New bathroom countertop
  • Freshly painted rooms with soft, warm colors
  • Drywall repairs
  • Major work to the foundation and basement, waterproofed exterior foundation

The home now looks beautiful and inviting! We are so thankful to have a wonderful new home for this family.  

August, 2015

Joseph House is not alone in our efforts to help refugees establish their new home in Cleveland. A recent article in the Plain Dealer quotes Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman as saying, "The goal is to make Cleveland the No. 1 welcoming city for newcomers and refugees within the next five years. They will bring new life to neighborhoods. And the neighborhoods will bring new life to them."

Refugees come to Cleveland with talents and skills they have spent their lives developing, and abide by an incredibly strong work ethic.

  • According to a study done by the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland, 75% of refugees over the age of 16 living in Cuyahoga County are employed, compared to 57% of the general population.
  • Refugees are also more likely than U.S. born citizens to start successful businesses, including stores and restaurants, that provide jobs and boost the local economy.
  • A study done by Chmura Economics and Analytics shows that refugees are more likely to hold a job than U.S. born residents, and are more likely to send their children to college. 

These statistics show us a picture of people who want to succeed. Our new neighbors joining us in Cleveland want the best possible lives for themselves and their children, and are willing to work hard to get there. We can learn from their strength and courage, their dedication to pressing forward under circumstances we can hardly fathom. We can lend a hand, invest in their lives, be a friend, and share the opportunities we have been given.


 July, 2015

Big changes are happening! In June, Joseph House began renovating our existing property. With the help of student volunteers from Servants for Christ (S4C) Service Retreat, St. Vitus Church, H2O "Help to Others" of Lakewood, and Sisters of Notre Dame, the places is looking beautiful.

New doors, windows, and paint have given the property an updated look, as well as making it more functional for the families living here. Once we are done renovating our current apartments, we will then focus on renovating a newly acquired apartment to provide more refugee housing. If you would like to be a part of turning an apartment into a home for a refugee family, visit our Volunteer Opportunities page!

 June, 2015  


World Refugee Day is celebrated each year on June 20.  Let’s take time this month to honor the courage and strength of the thousands of men, women, and children who have been forced to leave their homes amidst violence, war, persecution, and natural disaster to begin anew.


Did you know that since 2008, over 2,500 refugees have resettled in Cleveland*? Let's share warmth and kindness-a smile, a greeting in the store, or a few minutes out of our day to make a new friend can go a long way in making a newcomer feel welcome. (*Refugee Services Collaborative).


March, 2015


This family of nine first came to Joseph House at E. 82nd Street in December of 2007. They rented two apartments because of the size of their family, and were special and respectful of the property and all of us from the beginning. After leaving E. 82nd Street, St. Vitus rented a two story house to the family. When this house was to be sold, an apartment was made ready for them near St. Vitus church.

The family has pooled their resources and has gained strength from being in a stable environment. They applied awhile ago for a Habitat for Humanity home, and that dream has come true! The family completed their "sweat equity" hours of labor in the home, and moved in at the beginning of March.

Their move is bittersweet. We are so happy and grateful for this family and their success. All of us at Joseph House will miss this beautiful family being in our midst.