Updated: Apr 17
Council Bluffs Knight spearheads luggage collection program for area families in need
On a stormy April evening this District Master had the privilege of meeting Sir Knight Tony Jordan at the Micah House shelter in Council Bluffs. I had read in the Omaha World Herald about his efforts to collect used luggage for homeless at risk families from the Council Bluffs area and wanted to get involved in some small way.
While cleaning my storage area I had found a number of still very capable but used pieces of luggage I was no longer utilizing. Tony and I agreed to meet outside Micah House late one evening so that I could drop them off. True to form Tony met me after hours on his day off to effect the exchange.
Tony explained he sees so many families arrive with all their belongings in a garbage bag that he wanted to do something to give them better storage for personal belongings while there s well as a better starting point once they left the shelter. All the luggage is sanitized (steamed) and cleaned prior to being distributed. With each delivery of new "used" luggage the shelter residents are abuzz with the possiblities.
While there Tony treated me to a quick tour of the facility. Even though there were several dozen families in residence at the shelter the area was quiet but not without activity. Several families were returning for the evening and one in particular was helping to clean up some spilled water in the dining room. Everyone recognized Tony and exchanged personal enthusiastic greetings. I'm very glad to have taken the time to see and meet some of folks getting back on their feet at Micah House.
Another benefit that has been realized is a stronger connection between the shelter staff and board and the local Knights of Columbus Councils. While some of the Micah House regulars are from local parishes, many were not aware of what the Knights could contribute to the shelter's success beyond used luggage drives. The latest idea is a clean-up of adjacent property that has been pending "forever" which is likely to turn into a Knights project.
Tony is super excited about getting other Knights connected to their local shelters and build this same synergy to help especially families that find themselves in a less than fortunate circumstance. Solidly in the tradition of Fr McGivney's men.
From a late February daily issue byline Michael Brownlee (Omaha World Herald)
COUNCIL BLUFFS — Through his career in human services, Tony Jordan of Council Bluffs has seen many who are struggling pack up their belongings to move to a homeless shelter, group home or another residence.
Oftentimes their “luggage” is a plastic trash bag.
Jordan has set out to change that, collecting used and new luggage from the area to pass on to people who come through the Micah House homeless shelter.
“Their entire world was in these trash bags,” Jordan said. “I pushed to see if we could get some used luggage. That way families coming in and out of the shelters, when they do leave and they have their feet on the ground, instead of leaving with all their things in trash bags, they can leave with their things in luggage. There’s a dignity aspect behind all of it.”
Jordan, who is a shelter specialist at Micah House, is spearheading the project as a citywide Knights of Columbus philanthropic effort. He’s the faithful navigator (president) for Council Bluffs Assembly 270 of the Catholic-associated organization. He’s operating the effort out of Micah House, 1415 Ave. J, where people can drop off luggage from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. He started the program at St. Patrick’s Church last week, spreading the word about the effort. And through word of mouth, luggage is already rolling in.