(This article to appear soon in the Jewish Press.)

On Sunday, July 29, as they do in every month with a fifth Sunday, members of Temple Israel volunteered at Stephen Center, an emergency shelter near 27th and Q Streets. Like many of Omaha’s shelters, Stephen Center is overcrowded and undersupplied, said Don’L Dacey, a longtime Stephen Center volunteer.

DonLDacey StephenCenter“They are in great need right now,” Dacey said. “I have never seen the place so depleted of supplies.”

There are currently 98 people staying at Stephen Center, including 40 children, some of whom are being forced to live in their cars due to overcrowding, Dacey said.

On Sunday, Stephen Center was down to salami for breakfast, and while volunteers usually bring about 10 dozen eggs, they had to send someone out for another five dozen because there were so many hungry people, Dacey said.

In addition to food, the families at Stephen Center are also in dire need of personal hygiene items, like shampoo, soap and women’s feminine hygiene products, Dacey said, as well as regular items like office supplies, pots and pans, blankets and towels, and twin size beds and bedding.

LeslieNorman StephenCenter“With all the children they have, they also are going to need some basic school supplies,” Dacey added.

Dan Gilbert, Chair of Temple Israel’s Social Justice committee, was surprised to hear how in need Stephen Center is.

“I’m sad that I didn’t know how great the need is right now or just how quickly things have changed there,” Gilbert said. “Forty children … wow.”

Temple Israel is asking its members, and others within Omaha’s Jewish community, to help Stephen Center through this rough summer by bringing in kind or cash donations to Temple Israel through August, or directly to the Stephen Center.

Click here for more information about the Stephen Center.