The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 28, 2012

Two find more than shelter

From lifetime lows, couple carve out new life

SUNBURY — At a time when part of the national political dialogue revolves around how many Americans are willing to accept government handouts compared to those who are struggling valiantly to get on their feet, a Sunbury couple demonstrate that even in hard times, there is room for recovery and even love.

Janet Matters and Pete Keretski didn’t expect much more than shelter when each separately ended up at Haven Ministry after falling on hard times last spring.

But what they found was each other and renewed hope.

“God put us both there at the same time,” said Keretski, 70, a Mount Carmel native who went to the South Front Street shelter in April after living in Mississippi for a year.

Matters wound up at Haven Ministry in March when her 37-year marriage ended.

“It was the lowest part of my life. I felt like no one wanted me anymore,” the 57-year-old said.

The pair became friends while living at the shelter and their relationship grew closer over time, with the outgoing Keretski helping the shy Matters to open up more.

“He treats me as an individual,” Matters said.

For Keretski, finding love at this point in his life was a surprise.

“I had given up. I figured that was over for me,” the divorced father of four said.

Today, the couple share an apartment in the city and operate a stand at the Weekend Flea Market at 1047 S. Front St. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

They also are giving back to the charity that brought them together, volunteering regularly at Haven Ministry.

“We do it to pay back for what they did for us,” Keretski said.

Haven Ministry Director Pamela Steffen said the couple are a positive example for other clients of the shelter, demonstrating that temporary homelessness doesn’t equal hopelessness.

“They’re both very resourceful and are a success story for us,” Steffen said. “We’re just delighted that they found one another at this stage in their lives.”


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