Soup, friendship and home sweet home

I was coming up on the elevator and I’m thinking, ‘thank you Jesus’. I can stay out of the cold air. I want to get healthy.”


Greg moved into Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul on the very first day the innovative housing and shelter complex opened.

Just the day before, he had been in the hospital. He has a bad cold, bladder issues and other health problems that were difficult to manage without the stability of a home.

As he moved in, Greg was wearing a polo shirt, two flannel shirts, two zip-up sweatshirts and a winter coat. Keeping warm has been a challenge for him and many others who lacked a home this Minnesota winter.

Shortly after he signed his lease, he walked to the mailboxes and tried his key. Inside, there was the bright green “vacant” card from the post office which tenants must fill out in order to get mail there. Greg smiled, waved the card in the air and boasted “It’s not vacant anymore!”

Moving into Higher Ground Saint Paul is a full circle moment for Greg. From his third floor window, the life-long Minnesotan looks out at St. Joseph’s Hospital where he was born 60 years ago. He grew up on St. Paul’s west side. His father was the train director at Union Depot and he’d spend days there just hanging out with his dad at work.

He has called Minnesota his home for all of his years. Two years spent in New York only strengthened his love for the Northstar state.

Greg is thankful and relieved to have a new home to call his own, in the city that has always held his heart. His best friend, Diana, also found a home at Higher Ground Saint Paul. She is just two floors above him.

“She’s so sweet,” he said. “Through the spirit of God, I knew she would be over here too,” he said.

For many moving into Higher Ground Saint Paul, there’s an overwhelming sense of luck and blessings in moving in.

I was coming up on the elevator and I’m thinking, ‘thank you Jesus’,” he said. “I can stay out of the cold air. I want to get healthy”

The hustle of moving in, even when from just across the street, is tiring. Greg has to unpack, shop for necessities and wants to decorate his room. For now, rest is priority.

“All I need to do is get a loaf of bread and I’m good for a week. My sister in Glencoe made me three jars of jam,” he says with a smile.

Greg and others at Higher Ground Saint Paul may still go to Dorothy Day Center for meals, but may cook on their own using the large shared kitchens on each floor.

He’s glad to have kitchen access and fridge in his room. He’s already planning to cook up a pot of soup, listing ingredients off as he plans his new routine.

“I need two pounds of rutabagas, two pounds of carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, green beans, green peppers—did you know my soup has 12 pounds of vegetables? It will keep me healthy!”

Soup, friendship and home sweet home all do wonders for the soul.

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