'Catholic Workers Jerry Ebner, left, and Michael Brennan are starting a campaign to raise enough money to purchase a new Catholic Worker House in Omaha. The current house at 1104 N. 24th St. in Omaha, pictured, is too small, they said, and a new house would allow them to have more space for homeless men in the area. Lisa Maxson/staff.'
* Text sent from Jerry Ebner (Omaha Catholic Worker) and Frank Cordaro (Desmoines Catholic Worker) on Dec. 4, 2010
Service to Omaha's homeless marks fifth anniversary
: Omaha Catholic Worker is looking for a new location
By LISA MAXSON
Dec. 4, 2010
Since the 1970s, local efforts associated with the national Catholic Worker Movement have been short-lived.
That is until Jerry Ebner established a Worker House at 1104 N. 24th St. in Omaha five years ago, giving homeless men a place to find refuge, friendship and support.
A family-like environment at the house provides a safe place for up to five men, Ebner said.
"We have dinner together, do dishes together and cook like any family should, I think.
"Some people come to us and have been kicked out of an apartment. Some people may, but not all, have drug or alcohol issues. Some may, but not all, have mental health issues," said Ebner, who lives at the house.
But all the guests are expected to spend their days doing whatever is needed for them to live a productive life, such as mental health programs, looking for employment or working, he said.
While Ebner wants the community to remain small, he and Michael Brennan, a live-in volunteer, want to purchase a slightly larger house. They have started a down payment fund and Ebner said he hopes others will support their work financially.
"We're not going to get a lot of rich donors, so my goal is to at least get a good amount in down payment and then we'll end up paying a certain amount each month," Ebner said, noting current rent at the three-bedroom house is $650 a month.
He and Brennan are working with a real estate agent to find a six- to eight-bedroom house in the Midtown Omaha area. The new house must be on a city bus route, preferably with access to all parts of the city, Ebner said.
He said he hopes to reserve one room in the new house for a Creighton University student who would cook for the house in exchange for room and board.