Last year Hope for the Homeless identified 156 people living on the street in our area. During the past year, they have helped 58 of the people into permanent housing, utilizing various agencies in the community! This is wonderful news, and a big step for people who had not found this help and had not known this independence before. Several of our neighbors are still our neighbors, living in the Fairmont Hotel at the corner of Common and Cotton Streets.
The next step is for our neighbors in permanent housing to learn to manage some of the things that have interfered in the past with their living independently. Hope for the Homeless aims to provide the means for them to continue and grow in lives that are self-sufficient. This month Christy Bierbaum and Ryan Parker , Hope’s Licensed Professional Counselors, began offering anger management classes in our Education Building. Seventeen people are enrolled, and the classes are going well.
Here’s what we can do to take the next step in the ministry to our neighbors: Christy and Ryan need “incentive gifts”, like homemade cookies, to give to the people attending the classes. Even as they move into efficiency apartments, off the street, they have an ongoing need for everyday items like toilet paper, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc., as well as food staples like bread, margarine, nonperishable shelf food—the kinds of food items we’ve been bringing for the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army no longer picks up the barrels of food. The suggestion has been given to me that we expand our ministry to our neighbors by collecting the things they need and giving the items, personally, to the people. Please bring cookies and/or any of the items listed above, or others you may think of, and put them in the barrels in the Undercroft. Please also bring the bags you usually throw away or recycle from the grocery store so the items can be bagged to be carried home.
Better yet, if you are free on Tuesday afternoons between 1:00 and 1:30, or at 2:30, when the class is over, come in person at one of those times, bring your gifts and visit with the people in the class. The human touch and love expressed are nourishment every bit as good as a good meal. We will see if we need help bagging the items, and if so, will call for help—but perhaps everything will be brought on Tuesday afternoons and given in person!
Finally, please pray for our neighbors as they seek to change their lives, and pray for Hope for the Homeless’ and Holy Cross’ ministry to the people who are our neighbors, living on the street or newly housed. We all need to continue to support one another!
The Rev. Mary B. Richard