SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The holidays can shine a spotlight on what’s most important in our lives and how it feels to know we have them.
For some in Sioux Falls, extra comfort comes from the St. Francis House, which offers transitional housing. The place started showing its age, but on December 20 guests got to make a big move to the organization’s new building.
In this Christmas Day Eye on KELOLAND, we show you just how meaningful this is.
David Andrews is a guest at the St. Francis House. He works in Sioux Falls, where he wears these boots to do masonry work. The boots sit at the foot of a bed in the St. Francis House’s new building. This night is the first that guests are spending here.
“I think it’ll take a while for me to go to sleep, ’cause I’m going to be excited,” Andrews said. “I mean it’s like waking up when you’re a little kid, and you got that new bicycle almost.”
But, Andrews says, words can’t really capture how he feels.
“There’s no words, it’s all, it’s more of emotion than it is words, as in like joy, happy, it’s perfect timing for the holidays,” Andrews said.
Julie Becker is the executive director of the St. Francis House. She says this first night feels special.
“It’s pretty amazing, especially when the guests were helping us move the stuff out of the old building over here, and seeing their expressions, and I just walked down the hallways to say goodnight to them, and many of them were just, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you,'” Becker said.
For her, too, words don’t quite suffice.
“I have no words, it’s just such a blessing, ’cause we’ve now given them even more hope than we ever gave them before, and the community did this, the community did this,” Becker said.
Thanks to the new building, there will be space at the St. Francis House for 120 guests, a 50% increase.
“The need is there, and many of the guests who are here now said, ‘I think I’m going to plan on staying that full year here,’ and before they weren’t necessarily looking at doing that, because the conditions of the old building were poor because it was so old,” Becker said.
Andrews’ room has these words on the wall: “Now may the Lord of Peace himself give you PEACE at all times and in every way. The Lord Be with All of You.”
“When I first walked in the room, just knowing that I had a place to come, a place that I was just very fortunate to be at, where I have my own room, my own place I can have my own privacy, it just brought me pure joy,” Andrews said.
And the home offers something else.
“St. Francis House brings me peace because I don’t worry about the stresses of trying to find a place to stay at night, stay out of the cold, the elements,” Andrews said.
Appropriately enough, on the first night that the new building is welcoming guests in from the cold, there is a sign outside with lyrics from that familiar, nighttime, calming, peaceful Christmas song “O Holy Night.” They’re not painted there, but the song’s next lyrics after these are about how “the stars are brightly shining.”
“It’s very humbling to be here,” Becker said. “To be in this beautiful home, and to know that our guests have a bright star right now for them, and sorry for being emotional, but it’s a long time coming, but it’s an awesome thing, to be able to have this, to give this gift to our guest to be in here before Christmas.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about anything, but I’m very excited tonight,” Andrews said.