In Your Midst
Linda Haptonstall And The Solanus Samaritans
April 99

Linda Haptonstall The woman appeared at the Rectory door in the middle of a panic attack, too frightened to go home. She was one of those who fall through the cracks, too ill to see the need for long-term health care, too well to be forced into it. A month earlier the receptionist would not have been able to make a referral. Linda Haptonstall, the new Cooperative Community Minister, took the woman back to her apartment, calmed her, and listened for the next hour as she talked through her fear.

Nine churches and the Seattle University School of Theology have united to find a better way of providing assistance, hoping to direct people to the right source on the first try. Linda will coordinate their efforts as Cooperative Community Minister.

She will be "on call" to help people with more complicated needs. She will also train volunteers and coordinate the different church programs, acting as liaison between them and community agencies.

Haptonstall has more than 25 years of business experience in project planning, management and administration. She has interned with the Seattle Mental Health Chaplaincy, the King County Jail, and the Mental Health Unit. Linda has volunteered in Africa and at Seattle’s First Avenue Service Center, worked with the AIDS Project care team, and developed programs designed to keep at-risk young people off the streets by recruiting and training volunteers to implement the programs. Currently she is working towards a Masters in Divinity at Seattle University.

The volunteers Haponstall will be training, known as the Solanus Samaritans, will model themselves after the Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey, who chose as his 50-year ministry to stand at the entrance to his church, praying for, listening to, and helping those in need. St. James might feel a special kinship to Father Solanus since Sr. Anne Herkenrath, the Pastoral Associate, is his grand niece. He is soon to be beatified by the church. After their training, the Solanus Samaritans will be able to listen with a better ear – one that will help them search out the most appropriate assistance for those they counsel. As the program expands, these Samaritans will be available during the week as well as on Sundays.

As they work toward helping a larger segment of the community, Solanus Samaritans obey the wishes of Jesus: to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, and treat each person as if he or she was Jesus Himself. This is as it should be, since we are all children of the Father.

Mary Seling is the receptionist in the Cathedral parish office and a freelance writer.

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