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Polly and Bengt Ohman of Lake Clear, NY
February 19 , 2003:
How The Working Boys Center Builds Self-Sufficiency

This reluctant angel is Cecilia Moreno.

There are thousands of angels of all sizes and ages here. Most awake in the dark of night to make way from their one room homes (where perhaps seven sleep) by foot on dirt mountainside paths and bus to reach the center by 6 a.m.

Madre Cindy Sullivan (from Massena, NY) says that she tells the Center’s members that to be poor doesn’t mean you have to be dirty—so, first order of the day is showers for 2,000 persons! What she says is not a put-down—everyone is poor, that is, until the graduate from this extraordinary program.

Saving towards housing is an integral part of the Working Boys’ Center. Every adult opens a savings account which is reviewed regularly. On Sundays, when the Center is closed, families participate in mingas—working together to build homes of cement blocks. This may increase living space from about 50 to 800 sq. ft.

The WBC is not a charity. Everyone over six is assigned a "voluntary" job. Gradual changes in attitude and behavior, based on formation and self-help programs encourage eradication of misery. Padre John Halligan, SJ, who founded the Center in 1964 ways "We’re saving the world one person at a time."

Bengt and Polly Ohman

More information about about The Working Boys Center

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2003 North Country Public Radio, St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York 13617-1475