'All we want to give them here is respect and a safe place'

For those who have nowhere else to go, Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Rochester is a place they can find care

Richard and Jane Rodeffer, longtime volunteers at Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Rochester offering their services on Thanksgiving Day 2022 prepping meals for the guests.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Dorothy Day Hospitality House opened in Rochester since 1984 and the volunteers at the home have always tried to keep the legacy of Dorothy Day alive when helping guests.

Day, a journalist and devout Catholic who opened charity homes in the beginning of the Great Depression, made it her later life's work to aid the poor and the homeless.

“Dorothy Day believed in seeing Christ in everyone who walks through the door,” said Richard Rodeffer, a seven-year volunteer at the Day home. “I like to keep that alive as this Rochester house has more of a home-like feeling. It says something about what we're trying to provide.”

Rodeffer's wife, Jane, has been volunteering on and off at the home for the better part of 30 years. Jane Rodeffer originally became acquainted with the Dorothy Day House while she was a professor at St. Mary’s University in Winona.

“I had started a capstone service learning course for my students after teaching in Boston for some years and volunteering at Rosie’s Place for women. I had them coming like six or seven times a semester for 15 years,” said Jane Rodeffer.


The Rochester Dorothy Day House is one of many across the country. Each Dorothy Day House is run by volunteers, which also includes a board that helps direct the funds received from donations.

What each house provides is a safe space overnight for homeless people, some of whom have either left rehab or prison and are in need of a warm meal and a bed. The Rochester Dorothy Day Home can accommodate up to 23 people overnight, and they can stay for up to three weeks. The holiday season typically finds the house filled to capacity.

Both the Rodeffers and other volunteers strive to treat the guests at Dorothy Day with the utmost respect. Respect is something many guests do not receive when they are outside the home, according to the Rodeffers.

“A lot of these people receive nasty treatment simply based on their appearance, and all we want to give them here is respect and a safe place to sleep without worry,” said Jane Rodeffer.

“We're trying to provide the best respect for people who walk in the door, because people who've never been here, walk up those steps the first time and there’s uncertainty. Given the uncertainty of their lives, it's another uncertainty,” said Richard Rodeffer.

The home has an ongoing need for donations, including clothes and money. To help the Dorothy Day home with a donation, contact them by email at .

A current list of needed items includes sweatpants, gloves and sweatshirts for both men and women. That list is at the home's website, The site includes instructions on how to schedule a drop-off.


Dorothy Day Hospitality Home

703 1st St SW, Rochester, MN 55902

(507) 282-5172

Website link

Related Topics: ROCHESTER
Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or
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