St. Francis House co-founder attends anniversary reception


On Sunday, May 19, St. Francis House celebrated its donors at a reception at the Magnolia Room at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Donors enjoyed mimosas, light refreshments, live guitar music and networking.

Among the 80-plus attendees was Joan Lohr, one of the founders of St. Francis House. In the early 1980s, she and Father Baker from the Basilica had the vision for a soup kitchen to feed the homeless men, women and families in downtown St. Augustine. As a result, St. Francis House was founded in 1984 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

St. Francis House has grown from a soup kitchen to a full-time shelter offering food, shelter and vital programs and assistance to the homeless men, women and families in St. Johns County. St. Francis House currently has space for 26 men, 14 women and four families. In the near future, it will open a new family shelter, which will provide 36 more beds for homeless families with minor children.

The donor event was a great opportunity to thank donors. Lohr stood and said a few inspiring words at the event. The reception concluded with a few door prize giveaways and a few words from Executive Director Judith Dembowski, Assistant Director Karen Hensel and Board Chair Ed Dwyer.