Our history has a fascinating beginning. Colleen Knauf, the founder, was a parishioner at St. Louis Church twenty years ago when the call went out for volunteers to help refugee families. Colleen, a mother of five children, drove over to the apartment of a Somali Family of five, she was stunned, shocked and then angry at how little they had in terms of possessions.
Colleen got back in her car, returned home and did the following: she emptied her linen closet, rifled through the closets of her children, pulling out as many articles of clothing as possible. Then, she did the same for her wardrobe and her husband's. She took her children's toys, despite a few wails and disagreements and then headed back to the family. In that moment, Saint's Place became a reality. Colleen enlisted the support of her family and friends, asking them to donate clothing, furniture or household goods. In a few week's time, there was no entry into her garage and the word had spread among the refugee community that there was a kind woman who could help refugees.
Today, Saint's Place has served over 13,000 refugees, "Welcoming the Stranger." The initial location of her garage has grown into multiple locations, including seven classrooms at St. John of Rochester, which houses our Clothing Closet and household inventory. Saint's Place operates the largest Clothing Closet in Rochester, a 6,000 sq. foot warehouse, holding all of our donated furniture, new beds and mattresses. We also have offices located at 46 South Main Street which serves as the base for all donations.
Our history is rich, marked by the dedication of volunteers, churches, other agencies and individuals who want to make the dreams of the refugees come true.