'Pope-up' raises money and awareness for city's homeless
Wednesday saw the launch of the first “Pope-up,” an initiative led by Project HOME to raise awareness and money for the city’s homeless population. With just over 40 days until the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) and Pope Francis’ visit, Sister Mary Scullion, the executive director at Project HOME, takes her message to the streets.
“We’re asking people in the Philadelphia region and beyond to join us concrete acts of mercy and justice to honor the Pope,” Scullion said.
On a breezy August afternoon in Rittenhouse Square, Scullion and her team set up a life-size cardboard rendering of the Pontifex that carries the message "#mercyandjustice." Passersby were encouraged to pose for pictures and learn more about the "Francis Fund."
Money collected through the “Francis Fund” will go directly to 61 organizations in the area. The goal is to reach $1.4 million, and to date, Project HOME is well on its way with $950,000. Those funds will be put towards purchasing food for organizations like Casa del Carmen in Hunting Park and St. Francis’ Inn in Kensington, which serve hundreds of the city’s homeless each day. Funds will also help purchase medical supplies and basic home utilities for the city’s homeless and formerly homeless.
Sister Scullion added that the Pope-Up Days hope to achieve bipartisan support for legislation towards quelling hunger and homelessness.
Last month, AL DÍA reported on the then-tentative plans for the city’s homeless during the papal visit. Some 100 homeless men and women sleep on the Ben Franklin Parkway between City Hall and the Art Museum every day. The city anticipates two million visitors on the parkway for the papal mass, which will entail a fenced-in security parameter with metal detectors.
Like much of the papal planning, details have been scarce. But Project HOME works continues to provide services. Two or three times a week, Project HOME’s outreach team asks these homeless men and women specific questions about planning.
“We’re asking them their feedback and to work with us to design alternatives,” Scullion said.
For the ticketed events during the pope’s visit, which includes some seating during the Parkway’s papal mass, Project HOME has been trying to secure a ticketed presence for the homeless. Still, with just over a month left, they haven’t gotten an answer.
“I’m optimistic that we’re going to get a positive response. I’m not sure when we will be getting one, but we’ll be getting one soon I believe,” Scullion said.
Two other "Pope-up" events happened in different parts of Center City on Thursday, and Project HOME plans to have at least three more before the end of September.