As long as necessary, as short as possible.
Who We Are
The first of its kind in Chattanooga, St. Catherine’s Shelter for Women and Children opened its doors in 1996, and has occupied the basement of St. Paul’s Church for over sixteen years. St. Catherine’s Shelter operates year-round for up to eight homeless women in need of temporary housing who are enrolled in assistance programs coordinated by the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. Those graduating their programs are aided by Community Kitchen staff in job placement and securing permanent housing.
1. To provide a safe place for clients to begin to make positive changes in their lives.
2. To have a structured environment that allows clients to work with their Case Managers on a case plan so that they will be successful when their ‘out’ date arrives.
Who We Serve
St. Catherine’s Shelter provides a safe and comfortable place to sleep for up to eight women and their small children. To stay at the Shelter, they must be registered and enrolled in a program run by the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.
A kitchen with refrigerators and a microwave is available for meal preparation. A washer and dryer for clothing care is available as well. Bedding, towels, television, reading materials, toys, and games are provided. The length of stay may be anywhere from one night to several weeks.
Many women whose lives were changed thanks to this program have expressed how much it meant to be able to stay in a Church during such a difficult, demanding time.
In 2010, St. Catherine’s Shelter served seventy-two women and children, and had 1,119 occupied bed nights. Clients have begun staying longer at St. Catherine’s as there is very little transitional housing available since programs are staying so full.
Structure at St. Catherine’s
Part of the success of St. Catherine’s Shelter is the requirement that guests adhere to the structure and expectations of the Shelter. Expectations center around safety, courtesy, and cooperation:
Guests must be at the Shelter by 6 p.m., with no additional visitors, phone calls, or texts.
Follow all directions — verbal or written — immediately and respectfully.
No weapons, violence, or sexual contact in or around the Shelter. Guests must be sober.
Guests with children must have control of their children at all times, make sure they are respectful, and not leave them in others’ care.
Refrain from using or taking others belongings or food, and from asking anyone associated with the Shelter to provide food, money, rides, or special favors.
Opportunities for Service
Female volunteers are needed to stay one night a month or more. Volunteers play an essential role at St. Catherine’s — we are always actively recruiting new volunteers! A coordinator opens the Shelter each evening, and stays until everyone is settled. The coordinator leaves the guests in the care of the trained female volunteer, and remains on-call for the night. The volunteer stays overnight in a private bedroom, and then oversees the clients leaving the Shelter in the morning.
Donations of supplies for the Shelter are always needed. Most-used items include:
Twin bed sheets (new), pillows, and blankets
Cleaning products (disinfectants, soap powders, etc.) and toiletries
Paper towels and large garbage bags
Special treats (popcorn, pizza, etc.)
We also welcome assistance with other activities, such as Christmas parties and Open House events at the Shelter. Both men and women can help by offering monetary donations to St. Catherine’s fund, which helps keep the Shelter open and available.
St. Paul’s Church values St. Catherine’s as one of its most important ministries, as does the Diocese of East Tennessee. St. Paul’s Church supports its Shelter by providing the space that houses St. Catherine’s, paying utility costs, and furnishing volunteers for various activities. They also underwrite the trained director and staff from the Community Kitchen responsible for running the program. Please consider the role you can play in the continued success of St. Catherine’s Shelter.