Labre Homeless Outreach serves Cleveland with food and faith

Cameron Ward, Staff Writer

On Monday nights a white Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership (CCEL) van loaded with hot meals and donations hits the streets of downtown Cleveland. The people in the van are on their way to give meals, companionship and prayers to those experiencing homelessness in our community.

The organization coordinating this outreach is Labre Homeless Outreach, a program put together by Case Catholic Newman Campus Ministry. The students involved work to demonstrate the positive impact that religious groups at Case Western Reserve University can make to the greater Cleveland area. 

Labre was one of the winners of last year’s Student Leadership Award for Group Community and Service. The mission of this group is to provide a faith-based community and meals to those in need in the Cleveland area. Fourth-year student Carolyn Neutzling, current co-president of Labre, was excited to describe the organization and all the positive work they strive to do. She stated, “We work to serve those experiencing homelessness by trying to provide for them spiritually, mentally and physically.”

In addition to food, Labre carries clothes, blankets and other supplies. The main goal of Labre is to connect with the community through religion. 

“We are a faith-based organization with a mission to also evangelize, witness and pray for and with those we encounter,” said Neutzling. 

“Labre does not directly seek converts, nor expects those we serve to share in our religious beliefs, but comes from our own call from Christ to serve, uplift and share in community with the most vulnerable members of our community, wherever that may be,” added fourth-year student DavidPatrick Ryan, the other co-president of Labre. “And for us that is Cleveland, OH.” 

Labre conducts weekly drives through downtown Cleveland with meals, clothes and other necessities. Members of the club will ask if someone would like a meal and then ask if they would like to talk for a minute or pray. The people Labre members meet are often the first to start the conversation, especially regarding religion. 

“This community loves us in a way that I hadn’t first expected,” says third-year student Lauren Gonzalez, co-vice president of Newman and an active member of Labre. “Often, they have more love and light for us or Jesus than we can bring to them. They are not afraid to show their faith.”

Bringing someone food often ends in them asking for prayer, telling their story or even a simple “God bless you.”

Another Labre member, fourth-year John Carroll University student Alex Krukemeyer, stated that one of the root causes of homelessness is ruptured relationships. Labre aims to get at the heart of this issue by providing connection. Being in the community is beneficial for Labre members too, with Krukemeyer stating that “Labre helps us come to understand our Christian identity by coming to better understand Christ’s call to serve others, both spiritually and physically.” Labre doesn’t require people to come to them, but rather meets them where they are. Gonzalez, Krukemeyer and Neutzling all echoed that talking to people in Cleveland strengthens their faith and broadens their perspective on issues of homelessness. 

After the runs, the members do a prayer and reflection. Notes are taken and shared with other schools around Cleveland, including St. Ignatius High School, where Labre started, and JCU. The goal of the partnerships between these schools is to consistently provide meals and form a connection with people. There are “regulars,” whose names and stories are known, and who love seeing the van pull up every Monday.

Labre operates on a donations system, and is supported by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH). As a larger organization, NEOCH can provide more of the material needs for Labre to give out, such as backpacks or blankets. They can also provide resources for more emergent concerns in homeless populations such as housing, identification services and medical services. Campus organizations such as Pi Beta Phi and the Hillel Center also help out with making weekly food donations.

Any food left over after runs is then donated to St. Herman House in Tremont, a location that offers three meals a day, 365 days a year to those who need it. CCEL has also partnered with Labre for blanket making and donation drives. All of the work that Labre does to provide for the homeless helps build ties between groups across campus. 

You can support Labre through donations and, if you’re into that sort of thing, prayers. If you have more questions or concerns, or are interested in getting involved, reach out to Labre at

Disclaimer: Cameron Ward is an active member of Labre Homeless Outreach.