Sister Grace Miller took on the mission of helping the homeless over 30 years ago when she saw a group of men on the streets of Rochester who appeared to be frightened.
On Monday, a long awaited new chapter opens for Miller and her organization's clients as she welcomes the first residents into the House of Mercy's new shelter on Ormond Street.
"I never, ever imagined anything like this," she said.
The 16,000 square foot building has three times the amount of space as the House of Mercy's previous shelter on Hudson Avenue. It has a dining room, lounge, offices, and enough beds for more than 80 people.
"It's going to be a wonderful thing for our homeless. Many more homeless will be off the street. We'll help them to get on their feet; whatever their needs are, we'll work with them. We'll serve three meals a day; breakfast, lunch and dinner; and our doors will always be open."
An anonymous donor paid for the building, and community donations funded the $5 million renovation.
"And then we had generous persons come in and help us to get the place ready. With the help of architects, and different firms, and generous people in the community, we were able to get this building going."
Target stores in Henrietta and Gates donated approximately $70,000 dollars worth of food to the new shelter after the recent wind storms cut off power to the stores' refrigeration.
The House of Mercy believes the new facility will also be a good thing for the city. The organization expects better and expanded conditions for Rochester's homeless to put less strain on resources such as local emergency rooms, law enforcement, and the justice system.
An official grand opening is planned for this spring.