SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — An organization helping hundreds of people get back on their feet in Sioux Falls says it might not be around today if not for the help of one of South Dakota’s Senators.
The St. Francis House began as a place for people to transition from homelessness, but now does much more. On Thursday the staff wanted to show their appreciation to Senator John Thune as he toured the new building for the first time.
The St Francis House started in 1987 by two of Sioux Falls’ top religious leaders at the time. Bishop Paul Dudley and Pastor David Holm, a Catholic and a Lutheran saw a need and teamed up.
Today the St Francis House is located in a new facility, built in 2019. Senator John Thune stopped in to see it for the first time.
“A lot of people don’t see it we have a lot of homeless people in our community a lot of people with needs who sometimes need someplace to turn and St Francis House is there,” said Thune.
People might understand that the St Francis house helps people, they may not know how unique it is.
“We welcome people of all walks of life from people who are homeless on the streets to people who are on probation, to individuals who are on parole for non-violent offenses, as well as our work-release program, our component here besides zero tolerance is we require everyone here to be working,” said Executive Director Julie Becker.
In 2018 The St. Francis House organization was struggling to get much needed paper work from the IRS. Senator Thune and his outreach staff came to the rescue, cutting through the red tape and prodding the IRS to release documents so construction on a new facility could begin.
“We would not have been in this building before the pandemic hit, who knows if the Saint Francis House would have survived. We could have very well been non-existent right now, so it is a true blessing, to see our new home and we want to thank him,” said Becker.
“We’re all kind of part of a big family and trying to look around us and see what we can do to make the world a better place,” said Thune.
Thune walked away with a tour and heartfelt thank you.
“Many times they don’t hear the thank you’s for their work that they do, and I need him to see and his team to take this back to them and say job well done,” said Becker.
According to Becker she’s very proud of the fact that the guests at the St. Francis House have paid $1.2 million in restitution and back child support as they turn their lives around.