Q and A with Louise Swenka
Downtown's House of Charity is celebrating its 50th year of service. It bills itself at the "heart of the city." Tom Kondrak, known as Brother DePaul, founded the organization in 1953 to help the "down and out of Minneapolis," according to a short history prepared by the organization. It first opened on Nicollet Island and moved to its current site, 510 S. 8th St., in 1976. The House of Charity provides an array of services to help the homeless and the hungry. Louise Swenka is the resource development coordinator for the House of Charity.
How is House of Charity the "heart of the city"?
The "heart of the city" came from when House of Charity was providing services to people who couldn't find services anywhere else.
The people who were not pretty. The people who tried other places and had not succeeded -- people who needed another chance to change their situation.
How do you help people?
When people come to the House of Charity, we begin to establish a relationship, and the people who come to us realize they are going to be held accountable for what they do, and they realize that somebody cares about what happens to them. The clients and House of Charity become invested in each other and really work together to figure out the best plan to help the client where he or she needs to be.
Who seeks help?
A lot of people seek help from House of Charity. We get a lot of calls from people who have drug and alcohol programs who have tried other treatment programs and have not succeeded and they need something else. Our program is longer and it's more intense than a lot of programs around, so they come here to try one last time. We help people by accepting them the way they are and just helping them get somewhere they can live self-sufficiently, independently, not relying on other assistance.