SJCS Stories

Winter 2019 Newsletter

Expanding our Mission

Alan Thornton

Alan Thornton President & CEO St. John’s Community Services

As you may know, we are in our 150th year of changing lives and building stronger communities. Throughout our history, we have been responsive to the changing needs of the communities we support. From the beginning, our services have slowly shifted from serving those wounded during the civil war, to caring for children, to expanding educational opportunities for people with disabilities, to supporting individuals with disabilities to secure jobs, housing, and otherwise become fully included in their community.

While celebrating our accomplishments during this historic milestone, St. John’s Community Services thoughtfully took time to evaluate and expand our role in the communities we serve. As a result of these discussions, we clarified our purpose as an organization, and the Board of Trustees approved the adoption of a new Mission Statement, “Advancing inclusive communities where every person, regardless of circumstances, has the right and opportunity to live their best life.”

In November we took another historic step, as we began providing shelter and meal services for people experiencing homelessness and hunger in Ithaca, New York. Our shelter offers 20 people a warm, safe place for the night, and with the addition of our expanded hotel and church partnerships, we provided emergency shelter for 180 people on the coldest night of the winter! Looking to help people put homelessness behind them, our Permanent Housing Program offers 15 people an affordable apartment of their own where they can get a fresh start once they have established income.

While we will continue to provide high-quality support and advocacy for individuals living with disabilities, our new mission speaks to our expanded vision, where everyone’s dreams are worth fighting for, and where every community is better when all its members have the opportunity to be fully included, and to live their best life.


Alan Thornton

St. John’s in Brief

A True Tigers Fan

Robert and his occupational therapist, KimRobert, whom St. John’s has been supporting in Tennessee since 2005, is a diehard University of Memphis Tigers fan. He wears Tigers gear almost every day and has souvenirs and memorabilia decorating his house. Despite his enthusiasm for the team he had never attended a game!

This past fall, Robert was given tickets to see the Memphis Tigers play at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, and last month, he got the opportunity to watch a Tigers basketball game as well! Robert was invited by one of his therapists, a season ticket holder with enviable seats. It was a great night! Like any super fan, Robert was thrilled and wanted to get to the game as early as possible. Once there, Robert was able to walk in with the team and watch them practice before the game started. He even talked hoops with the legendary coach, Larry Finch. Robert has a few new souvenirs including a poster of former NBA superstar and current coach, Penny Hardaway.

ART Options Celebrates Black History

In January and early February, artists in ART Options worked on new skills to create a mixed-media series celebrating Black History Month! ART Options is our arts program in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia. The program helps emerging artists express themselves, learn new skills, and to engage more actively with
the artistic community.

Andrew’s Independence
Andrew is a filmmaker and aspiring actor living in Delaware. Until he came to St. John’s, he was unfulfilled, spending five days a week volunteering with a group, but not gaining any career skills. Andrew, who is in his mid-twenties, wanted a paid job so he could become more independent. For the past year, St. John’s in Delaware has been working with Andrew one-on-one to build job skills and help him find a position where he could be an appreciated, contributing employee. Andrew now works at Main Event in Newark, a bowling alley/arcade/event center. He loves the fast-paced environment and even gets to do the Electric Slide at least once every shift!

Christopher trainingChristopher in Training
Christopher lives independently in Washington, DC, in an apartment with a roommate, supported by St. John’s Community Services. He loves music, especially the Beatles, and often goes to Karaoke nights for fun. Christopher is working with Jonathan, a St. John’s Employment Specialist, to become a banquet server, a position that pays well above minimum wage and includes benefits! Jonathan has been impressed with Christopher’s hard work and is proud of his new skills. Christopher is excited to finish training and start working events on Capital Hill!

Maxine’s Spring Treats
Maxine lives in a home supported by St. John’s. She loves baking themed snacks and creating holiday gifts for her friends in Martin, Tennessee. She even made cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day! St. John’s know the importance of individualized care for those we support. For Maxine, individualized care means she is engaged in more of the activities she loves in the community of her choice!