The Warming House History
In the fall of 1973, some SBU students gathered off campus with Fr. Daniel Riley, O.F.M, to dream about a place where Olean-area elderly without close relatives could gather for warmth, nourishment and companionship.
In January 1974, the Warming House opened in a donated storefront in downtown Olean as an outreach of university students, offering coffee and doughnuts in a warm, welcoming setting.
It has evolved through the years with various locations, students, directors, and visions, but it continues to be a place that provides warmth to the body and soul of needy Olean-area residents.
A Place of Inclusion, Sustenance and Warmth
The Warming House continues to offer nourishment and companionship in a dignified family setting. All are welcome.
A supper meal is served six days a week and emergency food needs of guests are met as they arrise. In addition, the Warming House serves up the comfort "foods" of smiling faces, a clean environment, and positive conversation.
The Warming House works with other local agencies to provide for the emotional and physical needs of its guests including counseling, health screening and other services.
A place of learning, reflection and love
The Warming House has worked primarily as an outreach/service ministry of St. Bonaventure University since the beginning, serving as a “classroom” outside the classroom for students, a place of learning and reflection about the politics and the faces of hunger, human relationships, our food/agricultural system, health, and our own inner spirits/journeys.
St. Bonaventure students continue to provide the primary volunteer support necessary to keep the Warming House doors open and food on the table. Student leaders commit to regular gatherings during the year to reflect on their experiences and commit anew to serving those in need with justice and compassion.
This is an ancient and Franciscan model that seeks to engage the person in mentored group reflection and is an integral component of St. Bonaventure’s University Ministries.
The Warming House is a place of relationships with others, personal discovery, and a social justice. It is about welcoming others to the table, listening to their stories, and asking myself what kind of person am I being called to be.