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Be an "Angel" for someone in need

Hear from a donor who saved a family from homelessness by joining SVdP's Angels On Call effort

Myron Hammes is a philanthropist, a visionary, a man driven to make an impact in his community, particularly when it comes to addressing issues of homelessness. After decades founding and running his own business, Hammes sold that business during the Pandemic, and was looking for a concrete way to give back — to make a difference in the lives of families and individuals in danger of becoming homeless. 

He spent six months talking with various agencies, churches and mental health professionals, educating himself on issues of homelessness around the Valley. 

"I learned a lot from St. Vincent de Paul," Hammes said. "When someone actually enters into the state of homelessness, we have maybe a two week or two month window to get them back into the system. If we don't then they go into what they call 'survival mode.' Instead of worrying about getting a job, all of a sudden they're worrying about 'What am I going to get to eat today? Where am I going to sleep tonight?'

"So if we can get in that two week to two month window and find them stable housing and get them back on their feet," Hammes continued, "the turnaround time is so much higher than if we let someone become chronically homeless."

When Hammes discovered St. Vincent de Paul's Angels On Call program, it felt like the perfect fit. The program provides a one-to-one opportunity for a donor, or "Angel," to offer instant financial support to a person or family on the verge of experiencing homelessness or already on the street. It operates through a SVdP smartphone application, allowing donors to respond to the urgent need and make a one-time gift until the next time they are called on for help.

Interested donors start by signing up through SVdP's website to become an Angel. They'll talk with a SVdP representative, and get a call when SVdP staff has a family or individual in crisis whose homelessness can be prevented and whose housing need can be quickly met with the donor's financial support.

Hammes remembers the day he got the call to step up as an Angel.

"I got a call saying, 'We have a family of four that moved here right before COVID. A husband, wife, and two kids. The wife lost her job during the lockdown. The kids weren't in school,'' Hammes said, "so now you had three people at home and ultimately the husband lost his job...They reached out to St. Vincent de Paul [for help], but because of conditions SVdP didn't have immediate [housing] for them."

SVdP needed immediate help getting the family into temporary housing to prevent them from becoming homeless. That's when it reached to its network of Angels for support.

"So they came to me and said, 'If we can find a hotel and put [this family] up for a month, we can find them permanent housing, but we need that one month gap,'" Hammes said. "They told me how much the one month of hotel stay would be. I paid that. They found a home and ultimately we kept them from being on the street."

The process of getting involved with Angels on Call is so unbelievably easy and rewarding, Hammes said. And there's no obligation or commitment from you as a donor when SVdP calls on you for help — maybe it's not the right time or the right amount for you and your family to contribute. It's all very flexible.

But if you are able to help, all you have to do is log in to the app and make the commitment in the app. It will automatically transfer the funds to SVdP to immediately be put into service. 

"It's really easy, and the cool thing is you can feel it," said Hammes, who received a thank you in return and a little more info about the status of the family he had helped. "You know what your money did versus just writing a check."

Hammes is excited to be part of this new form of philanthropy, especially in an area that is so meaningful to him. 

"Everything happens for a reason," he said. "I believe God put me in this place for a reason. I now see it. At the time when I sold my business, I'm thinking 'Why?' Well, when one chapter closes another chapter opens."

Are you ready to join Myron as an "Angel" on call? 

Sign up to become an Angel today.