Center provides holiday cheer |

Center provides holiday cheer

Jim Scripps
Lin Lennon sits in the Jubilee Center in front of a Christmas tree eating her free Christmas dinner. The center, which helps those in need, gave out a free dinner to its members who have sought help. Photo by Brian Corley

Get 30-year-old Sean Sumner into the Jubilee Center and his face lights up.

The center has had a hand in helping the Carson City resident lift himself from the desperate drug and alcohol-induced haze that controlled his life for almost 10 years after he became disabled in a car accident that killed his fiancee and two children.

Now, on Christmas morning, he is among 28 friends who act more like a family at the center’s Winnie Lane headquarters. They spent Tuesday opening Christmas presents and sharing a traditional dinner, distracted from the sometimes somber hand that life has dealt them.

“My counselor told me about this place,” Sumner said. “I said, ‘I’ll check it out,’ and the first day I fell asleep on the couch.

“I’ve met a lot of good people here and its a safe haven.”

Jubilee Director Jean Roberts presided over the Tuesday’s festivities with a handful of volunteers who hail mostly from St. Peter’s Episcopal and other area churches. For many of the city’s homeless and drug-addicted, the center is the only local refuge for holiday cheer.

“People in the community as a whole have been very supportive,” she said, referring to a large pile of presents stacked under the center’s tree. This year Jubilee members made out “wish lists” and St. Peter’s parishioners went out and picked out the presents, however obscure.

“Someone would wish for their furnace to be repaired, or they would ask for a warm pair of gloves and a jacket,” said volunteer Annie Rees. “People picked the wish lists off the tree in minutes.”

Only 13 months after starting the center — and wondering if it even needed the rented 765 square-foot storefront — Roberts is appealing to the public’s generosity in the search for more space.

“We need to find a Santa out there who’s willing to rent us a bigger place,” she joked. “We see 25-30 people a day. There are days when there are 20 people in here at once. It’s always crowded.”

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, the center opens its doors to the city’s homeless and mentally ill. They are two populations that “sometimes overlap,” Roberts said, and are often overlooked in hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Roberts estimates the center, which is funded through grants and donations, reaches 30 percent of the people who could use its services locally. In only 13 months that number is an astounding 161 people; people that sometimes have no home, no steady paycheck, and are without the basic support system of family.

As for Sean Sumner, he says his belief in God, the kindness of the center’s staff and his personal goal of becoming a professional welder have kept him out of jail and set him on a righteous path.

“Just being able to come here and drink coffee all day and having a meal helps a lot,” he said.