A Letter from Johnny Zokovitch
Dear friends and supporters of the Gainesville Catholic Worker,
It is odd writing this letter. You never think when you start something about how one day it will be over. I’m experiencing that right now as a father, sending my first child off to college. The other way I am experiencing this is the reason for my letter.
After 11 years, we’re closing down the Green House of the Gainesville Catholic Worker. It was a difficult, painful decision to make, but it is clear that we’re not in a position to keep the house open and functioning, for a variety of reasons. Despite the house closing, we do have a small group of long-time community members and volunteers who will continue with some of the projects that the house once hosted.
I’m in the process of putting together a last “Green House” newsletter—a retrospective if you will—to share some of what we lived and accomplished together over the past 14 years, 11 of those years with our community based out of the Green House (once called the Blue House until we painted the outside!). I think it is important that you know just what a deep, significant and transformative time these years have been for so many. And that you—each one of you—is responsible for the goodness and beauty that was created.
All I can say is thank you. Thank you for everything. For every prayer you said, every dollar you sent, every hour you spent with us, every kindness you showed, every generous and compassionate act or word that you contributed to our life at the Green House. There really are no adequate words for the gratitude I feel for each of you and all you did and gave. Thank you.
I once had a vision that I would live out my days at the Green House—that I would be the overly talkative, obnoxious old guy hanging around making lame jokes and spinning stories about the early days of the GCW. I thought that there was a good chance I would actually die there (after many, many years of course). But like the good book says, “to everything there is a season,” and the season of the Green House, as well as my time with the GCW, is passing away and something new is coming along.
Our last live-in community member left in late-July and our last guest moved out just a few days ago. We still have some work to finish up. Much of what we had we have donated to the new one-stop center for the homeless that began this year in Gainesville. Other items we have passed on to former guests who needed them or other folks in the community who will use them in their outreach efforts to help homeless people in our community. The house will be sold and that will mark the end of the experiment as we envisioned it back in 1999-2000, when we first began dreaming about what we might do.
If I may, I’ll ask one more kindness of you. If you have the means and can make one more gift to help us tie up loose ends and pay off some outstanding debts, we would appreciate it. We hope that when we sell the house, there will be money left over to cover these final expenses, but with the housing market what it is, we just hope that we can sell the house for enough to cover what we still owe on it and not incur any additional debt. If giving would be a hardship for you, please don’t feel you have to. Only do so if you have the means. Because no one will be living at the Green House any longer, please send any help to the new address: Gainesville Catholic Worker, P.O. Box 12753, Gainesville, FL, 32604. We have always trusted that things would work out, and for the most part, they always have. Getting through the pain of this ending and all that comes with it, we have faith that in this too, all will be well.
Soon, you’ll also be receiving a letter from the folks who will continue on the work of the GCW. I hope you’ll lend them your prayers and support as they share with you their plans for moving things forward. If you’re local and still want to be involved in the projects that will continue on—Art for All, a monthly prayer service, the microfarm, a monthly meal prepared and served at the new one-stop center—I hope you will.
I think I speak for every guest, every visitor, every volunteer, every live-in community member from years past, and of course, my own family, when I say what a blessing life at the Green House was. You helped to do that. So again, all I can say is thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.