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The History of The Ministry of Caring

The story of the Ministry of Caring begins in 1976, when Brother Ronald Giannone, OFM Cap., a young Capuchin Franciscan friar, was sent by his order to Wilmington, Delaware. It took little time for Brother Ronald to notice the absence of services for the city’s poor and homeless. The lack of emergency shelters for homeless and destitute women deeply disturbed him. The loneliness and hunger of the poorest of the poor in a country of plenty appalled him. As his indignation rose, so did his passion to alleviate poverty in his new city. His life’s work now identified, he promptly set out on his mission to assure that in Wilmington, “the poor should never be treated poorly.”

With support from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Brother Ronald incorporated the ministry and used its first grant of $5,000 to buy a house in Wilmington, where he opened the Delmarva Peninsula’s first emergency shelter for homeless and destitute women. With the support of kind volunteers and committed religious orders, he opened Mary Mother of Hope House on October 7, 1977. The shelter, which initially served double-duty as the ministry’s office, has gone on to serve more than 7,000 women. The original shelter became Mary Mother of Hope House I in 1983, when the ministry opened Mary Mother of Hope House II, an emergency shelter for women with children, on the second floor of its Capuchin Center above Emmanuel Dining Room West at Second and Jackson streets in Wilmington.

  1. Emmanuel Dining Room

    Ministry opens its first dining room for the hungry in Wilmington, Delaware.

  2. Emmanuel Dining Room

    Second dining room.

  3. Mary Mother of Hope Transitional Residence

    Transitional housing for single women.

    Mary Mother of Hope House II

    Emergency shelter for homeless women with children.

  4. Job Placement Center

    Employment and training service for the disadvantaged.

    House of Joseph I

    Emergency shelter for homeless employable men.

  5. Emmanuel Dining Room

    Third dining room.

  6. Distribution Center

    Program that provides free clothing, home supplies and furniture for people in need.

  7. St. Clare Medical Van

    Outreach partnership with St. Francis Hospital which takes health care services to the streets where Wilmington’s poor live.

    Child Care Center

    Child care and early learning for offspring of the poor, homeless and working poor.

  8. St. Francis Transitional Residence

    Housing for homeless women and children from the emergency shelters.

    Pierre Toussaint Dental Office

    Office that provides basic dental services for the poor.

    Samaritan Outreach

    Outreach center that helps the poor and homeless with housing referrals, case management, hygienic services and support.

  9. House of Joseph II

    Permanent residence for homeless people living with AIDS.

  10. Nazareth House Transitional Residence I

    Transitional residence for families.

  11. Nazareth House Transitional Residence II

    Transitional housing that helps families.

  12. Sacred Heart Village I

    78 one-bedroom, safe, afforable apartments for the elderly, with assistive services to enable them to live independently.

  13. Bethany House I

    Long-term housing for women with disabilities.

  14. Il Bambino

    Affordable infant care program for the poor, working poor and homeless.

  15. Maria Lorenza Longo House

    Long-term residence for single women.

  16. Padre Pio House

    Long-term residence for men with disabilities.

  17. Mother Teresa House

    Named for the humble Nobel Peace Prize-winning missionary whom Ministry of Caring founder and executive director Brother Ronald Giannone, OFM Cap. had the privilege of meeting, opened in 2011 to bring affordable independent housing with supportive services to low-income men and women disabled by HIV/AIDS. Mother Teresa House Inc., a separate corporation, expands the service to persons living with AIDS by creating an independent housing component for those who do not require medical care. This program will work side-by-side with House of Joseph II.

    Josephine Bakhita House

    This historic residence will act as home-away-from-home for up to six recent college graduates who dedicate one year of service to the poor and hungry served by the Ministry.

  18. Bethany House II

    Expansion of Bethany House I, a long-term housing facility for women with disabilities.

The Ministry of Caring today is an organization of 19 high-quality programs that serve the poor. With a current budget of over $10 million, the Ministry has accomplished much since 1977. Yet, much work remains. The poor of Wilmington will continue, no doubt, to demonstrate new needs. “Our success has been made one person at a time… one day at a time,” says Brother Ronald. With the support of staff, volunteers and donors, the Ministry of Caring will continue to help fill these unmet needs with your help.

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