Grace Opinker | The Times of Northwest Indiana

Last November, a young man wearing a sweatshirt and sandals walked up to the clothing bins outside the Sojourner Truth House in Gary.

The man grabbed a coat that came halfway up his arms. Although he was very grateful to have the ill-fitting coat, volunteer Dennis Kenning knew they could find him something better in the pile of donated winter jackets.

Dennis and his wife, Sharon Kenning, asked what else they could help with. The man, who wore a size 13, needed an appropriate pair of shoes for the freezing temperatures. By coincidence, Dennis looked down and noticed a gently used pair of Nikes in a size 13, something STH rarely receives.

“It gave us chills,” Sharon said. “It got down to 19 degrees that night. If this young man was sleeping on the streets that winter coat and those shoes could have made a huge difference for him.”

STH, a nonprofit organization, primarily serves as a food pantry to Gary residents. It also provides women and children living in local shelters with a day center program to attend throughout the week.

STH opened its doors in 1997 at 410 W. 13th Ave., after Sister Joan Fisher saw a need for an organization like this in Gary.

At the food pantry, clients are eligible to receive a food basket containing grains, protein, dairy, and fruits or vegetables once every 30 days. Food baskets are designed to last clients for a few days. They are also eligible to receive personal hygiene items once every 90 days.

The food pantry is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9-11 a.m. and 1-2 p.m. STH receives food from the government, the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and donations.

“We recognize the strong need for help here in Gary. We see the disparity,” said Sharon, a Valparaiso resident. “We’ve had people turn down milk because they don’t have a refrigerator to put it in.”

STH’s food pantry can serve 270 clients per week, though nutritious foods aren’t always available. Recently, STH started the “Five loaves and two fish initiative,” which asks for churches, organizations or businesses to commit to participate in one food drive a year to help support the food pantry.

Sharon said this initiative can add to STH’s budget, and help put more nutritious foods in baskets. To donate, contact Sharon Kenning at 219-789-2222 or email, with the subject “5 Loaves & 2 Fish.”

STH is also looking for volunteers to assist with its garden, the food pantry, and clothing closest that’s available to women and children.

“As the need in the community grows, we need more assistance to make it easier,” Volunteer Coordinator Airiel Crenshaw said. “The more the merrier.”

Women who attend the day center program have the opportunity to attend classes designed to identify the root causes of financial and emotional instability, and how to overcome those barriers. On-site case management services assist women with finding employment and housing, Executive Director Angela Paul said.

The center serves nearly 20 women and their children each day. Women who’ve walked through STH’s doors have lived in hotels, on the streets and inside rented storage units, said Pam Key, director of client services.

“We’re desperately in need of affordable housing in Gary,” she said. “Some of the reasons women are becoming homeless is because they can’t afford the housing. There’s a need for awareness to our problem of homelessness in Lake County and the state.”

The day center is available to residents across Northwest Indiana and beyond. Women who attend the program receive breakfast and lunch, and have the option to pick out gently used or new clothes from the clothing closet if necessary.

STH accepts donations of gently used clothing items, accessories and small appliances. Crenshaw said STH also tries to provide women with a variety of home furnishings and cleaning supplies once they move out on their own.

“It’s a very worthwhile mission to help these women get back their independence, and back on their feet,” Sharon said. “We have a passion for it because we see the need.”

With feelings of relief and excitement, families look forward to and prepare for another school year.

On Monday, July 31st, Sojourner Truth House hosted a Back to School event for STH clients and their children. This event consisted of grilled hotdogs, snow cones, popcorn, candy, and a special appearance from Cute as a Cupcake from Merrillville, Indiana. While the treats were delicious, families also received practical help.

Dr. Jodi Allen conducted physicals, a usual requirement for attending school, at no cost to clients. Backpacks were given to each child that included basic school supplies. Supplies were provided by Geminus Corporation, part of Regional Care Group.

The “Motivated to Move Forward” retreat welcomed STH clients at MoonTree Studios, a ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, in Donaldson, IN. The retreat encouraged self-acceptance, awareness and created avenues toward spiritual renewal. 

Attendees were guided through exercises to focus on their surroundings and create their journey. Many used the campus in Donaldson to collect objects from nature that best represented things that keep them motivated to move forward each day. Inspired by their thoughts and emotions, they created art and shared ways to let go of old patterns, re-align themselves, and stay spiritually connected. Afterward, everyone was given the opportunity to share their experience of the artwork they designed. 

Through Art Therapy, participants are able to start a new personal path to healing, renewal, and spiritual growth, by beginning with loving and nurturing who they are and who they want to become in the future.

Garden volunteer

Volunteers may participate in gardening throughout the year. Help us plan and implement garden projects.

Read more or apply ↗

Is ongoing…

We are seeking volunteers to help plant seeds and starters, maintain garden beds, harvest the produce, and prepare the vegetables for serving and sharing. This is a wonderful opportunity to use your gifts and give back to the community. All levels of gardening experience welcome! Gardening tools available to use. Garden any day of the week- during hours of convenience for you.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please complete our online application by visiting our website at and click on the How to Help tab on the menu bar, click on Volunteer in the drop-down menu and then click Filling out our Online Application. If you would prefer a hard copy of the application or have any questions please contact us at 219-885-2282. Thank you so much for your interest in volunteering at Sojourner Truth House and making a difference in the lives of those in need!

Additional Details:
18 and older
Is Family Friendly
Is Outdoors
Inclement Weather Plan: Option to reschedule due to inclement weather.
Is Wheelchair Accessible

Gary, IN (December 30, 2021) Today, Matt Schuffert, President of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, visited the Sojourner Truth House in Gary to present Angela Curtis, Executive Director of the Sojourner Truth House with a check for $25,000 to fund programs that help homeless and at-risk women and their children in Gary, Hammond, Hobart, Lake Station, Whiting and other parts of Northwest Indiana.

According to Schuffert, “Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana is committed to supporting the services that the Sojourner Truth House provides the women and children of our community including the feeding of more than 3,000 families monthly through its operation of the largest food pantry in Lake County.”

Angela Curtis, Executive Director of the Sojourner Truth House is a native of Gary.  She began her career in Social Services at the Sojourner Truth House in 2014 and became an advocate for helping families learn to have a voice for themselves before becoming its Executive Director on July 5, 2021. 

In addition to assisting women to find a permanent place to live, the Sojourner Truth House helps clients become Transitional Outreach Program Participants and maintain support through therapeutic programs such as basic skills, employment training, addiction and other issues.

According to Curtis, “We believe that a holistic approach provides help and hope for the mind, body and spirit for those that we serve.”

About Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana:

Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana’s $300 Million casino and entertainment destination officially opened to the public on Friday, May 14.  Hard Rock’s premier 200,000-square foot entertainment complex features over 1300 slots and 80 table games.  It has five food venues including Hard Rock Café, Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, YOUYU Noodle Bar, Fresh Harvest and a Constant Grind Coffee Shop.  It also features a retail shop and a 1,954 Hard Rock Live performance venue.

About Hard Rock®:  Hard Rock international (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies with venues in 68 countries spanning 241 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Hotels, Casinos, Rock Shops®, Live Performance Venues and Cafes.  HRI also launched a joint venture named Hard Rock Digital in 2020, an online sportsbook, retail sportsbook and internet gaming platform.  Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia at more than 86,000 pieces which are displayed at its locations around the globe.  The brand is owned by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida.  For more information on Hard Rock International, visit or

From Left to Right: Matt Schuffert, President of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana and Dawn Reynolds Pettit, Regional Vice President of Human Resources for Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana presented Angela Curtis, Executive Director of the  Sojourner Truth House in Gary, with an oversized check for $25,000 to help homeless and at-risk women and their children in Gary, Hammond, Hobart, Lake Station, Whiting and other parts of NWI find a permanent place to live.

All images and B-Roll courtesy of Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana.

September 1, 2021

“I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring. Because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get it going again.” – Sojourner Truth

Things were certainly stirring at Sojourner Truth House, as a new era of leadership began July 1st with a familiar face. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ chose Angela Curtis to succeed Sister Peg Spindler, CSA, and to “keep things going” as the day center’s new Executive Director.

Angela Curtis came to STH in 2014 as an intern, then joined the staff in 2015 as a case manager who worked closely with clients to help them accomplish their goals. She holds master’s degrees in social work, business administration and human resource management, and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. She also has nearly 20 years of pre-STH office and administrative management experience.

In her prior positions, Angela especially enjoyed helping people. “At STH, I feel joy when you can see a difference in the ladies, when they keep coming back to work on their issues and on themselves,” she said. “We have a great team that takes our mission to heart, and that makes it very enjoyable to do this work.”

Her move from case manager to executive director was inspired by a longing to be more of a voice in nurturing the growth of STH services and programs. Her vision is to focus more on the problems of generational poverty – multiple generations of mothers, daughters, and granddaughters who continue to seek help at STH, and to be proactive.

“I think STH can do a lot of things; we’re on the right path. But if we don’t offer more services for youth now to offset the things they’re going through in their families (homelessness, witnessing substance abuse by adults, food insecurity), they they’re going to grow up to be at STH, too,” she said. “We need to give them an outlet and a voice to express what they’re going through.”

“STH has really relied on replied on your generosity to faithfully support our women and children,” Angela said. “I want to encourage you to visit us occasionally for Coffee & Conversation so that I can share with you how much your support helps.” Your support allows us to continue to serve and grow our mission. Thank you!”