Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas
Settled Souls incorporated in Oct. 2016 in Little Rock, Arkansas with the mission: To aid homeless men and women transitioning to permanent housing, by providing many of the staple home furnishings, and helping their new apartment or house feel more like a secure and welcoming home.
Most Reverend Anthony Taylor, Bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, nominated Settled Souls for this year’s Lumen Christi Award.
Parishioners of Our Lady of Holy Souls Church started Settled Souls after learning about Jericho Way Day Resource Center, a program that identifies and helps homeless clients who qualify for housing.
Those whom Jericho Way serves typically move into their apartment with a sleeping bag and backpack and not much else. Coming off the streets or from shelters, these men and women have nothing of their own, nor do they have the means to acquire the staple home goods that make a house more livable and comfortable--in short, to make a house a home.
Settled Souls comes into their apartment to help make it a comfortable and stable home. They provide a starter food pantry, kitchen utensils and cookware, comfortable living and resting spaces, necessities for the bathroom and overall cleaning supplies.
Their process of evaluating each space, staging what will work in their space, packing, unpacking and full setup along with a good dose of love and smiles is their way of saying “you matter, we love you, and we hope you rest well--settle in and welcome home.” It all brings them relief, joy, and comfort.
“Pope Francis has consistently and urgently called for the Church in these times to reach out to the marginalized,” Bishop Taylor wrote in his nomination letter, “In our local church, the volunteers from Settle Souls are butting those words into action.”
From April of 2016 to December 31, 2018, Settled Souls helped 117 individuals of that number, 19 were children. A total of 84 apartments or rent homes were fully furnished. In 2018 there were 47 moves to help 64 individuals, including 11 children. As of March 2019, 15 individuals have been settled. Of the 117 total moves, 103 are still housed.
Settled Souls started at Our Lady of Holy Souls Church, and most of the volunteers and supporters are from there, but volunteers also come from parishes across the Central Arkansas area.
Each time a recipient is helped, they experience God's selfless love. The Lord continues to provide what is needed and continues to build their trust in Him. The recipients learn to trust that what they are doing is something He wants them to be doing. When God's love is experienced in a real and meaningful way, it motivates them to keep doing it, to keep helping others in need, to keep settling souls. The two aspects of faith that most impact their work are “love of neighbor” and "Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, you do for me."