Computer Learning Lab and Classes

Old St. Joseph’s computer learning lab offers three month courses in beginner computer skills to Food, Faith & Friends clients.  Donald Wheeler, once a client of Food, Faith & Friends himself, is now the instructor of this program, sharing his knowledge and skills with the homeless community in hopes of giving them better skills to move forward and succeed.

At OSJ Computer Learning Lab we prepare the men with basic computer skills so they can compete in today’s economy.  Some of these men never touched a computer before and need these skills to get a job.

The Learning Lab tutorial is a hands-on, Internet-ready program. The clients receive a user name and password for the course, allowing them to login to observe their books of interest.

Each study tool and topic use visual and audio exercise chapters with hands-on practice tests.  I assist each client with any help they need.  Old St. Joseph’s Church Food, Faith & Friends Learning Lab teaches basic computer literacy, with an understanding of applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point, as well as how to create email, and conduct employment searches on the Internet.  We teach clients how to create a Word document while creating their own resumes.  The course will equip them with filling out an online application while learning how to search for and find a job.

The course study is three months long.

Each client must pass the final written exam.  After completion a Certificate of Achievement is awarded.

Life Recovery

What started many years ago as a discussion group has grown and evolved into a life skills and education program.  Life Recovery consists of four different classes and groups that rotate monthly on Tuesday of every week at Food, Faith & Friends after the noon time meal.  The schedule is as follows:

Week One

    • Poetry analysis and book club: The clients of Food, Faith & Friends meet on the first Tuesday of every month to read poetry or literature from a specific poet or writer and share in discussions about the work. Some of the writers discussed so far are Charles Bukowski, Carl Sandburg, Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes and Mary Shelley.  The program is a great success and enjoyed by all who participate.

Week Two

    • Theology with Father Dan Ruff S.J., Pastor of Old St. Joseph’s Church: Previously a professor at Loyola University in Baltimore, Fr. Dan continues to share his skills as a teacher with the clients of Food, Faith & Friends.  On the second Tuesday of every month, Fr. Dan leads a lively and engaging Bible study   and discussion group for the Food, Faith & Friends clients focusing on the spiritual and historical insights found in the Bible.  Father Dan says, “I get back much more that I give to the clients.  It is spiritually enriching for me to serve in this role.”

Week Three

    • Pennsylvania Hospital Health Education Classes: For the past year and a half, on the third Tuesday of every month, dedicated and caring members of the Pennsylvania Hospital’s staff gather at OSJ Food, Faith & Friends to give health education presentations to the homeless community of Philadelphia.  Their presentations, which cover topics such as diabetes, heart disease, hypothermia, addiction, HIV/AIDS and physiological disorders, enable our clients to better understand their own health issues and how to best care for themselves.
        • Most of our clients suffer from both metal illness and drug addiction.  Many of them live outside or in the shelter system. Due to their lifestyles, illnesses and addictions, they often ignore their other, underlying medical problems, self medicating themselves with drugs and alcohol.  This leads to more serious medical conditions with countless trips to the emergency room.  Through the efforts of Pennsylvania Hospital, we hope to stop this unhealthy cycle.  Through health education, the clients of OSJ Food, Faith & Friends are learning how to identify health problems as they occur and attend to them before they become more serious.
        • Through their constant efforts and ongoing support, the staff of Pennsylvania Hospital is helping the homeless community of Philadelphia to help themselves.

Week Four

    • Open Discussion:On the fourth Tuesday of each month, the men gather for an open discussion.  An example of some topics discussed is addiction, healthcare, family relationships and responsibilities, politics and current events.  This is a time for the clients share their experience and thoughts with their Food, Faith & Friends family.


Spirituality/Bible Study, Thursday of every week

Our clients gather together after the noon meal every Thursday for Bible study.  This group is lead by our Assistant Director, Merridi Stokes, along with Donald Wheeler and Steve Garrision.  This time spent together enables the clients of Food, Faith & Friends to discuss passages from the Bible and relate those passages to their own life experiences.  It is a special time for the men to share their thoughts and reflections on God’s Word and the impact it has had on their lives.

The Examen, Saturday of every week

The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.  This group is lead by parishioner of Old St. Joseph’s Church.

Case Referrals

Old St. Joseph’s Food, Faith & Friends program offers assistance to its clients in need.  We do not provide case management.  Instead, we refer clients to organizations that can best help them with issues concerning them such as housing, drug addiction, mental illness and medical care.