By Donna Clark RN, Director
Advent is a time of anticipation of our Savior’s birth and a time of the anticipation of the Community Emergency Shelter Project. The churches are preparing to host as many as 30 homeless men from January until March and the men are checking out the schedule and talking about what the program means to them. At the beginning of the program the guests are appreciative of all they receive but as the winter progresses they develop a sense of entitlement that travels from church to church. Although that is hard for us to tolerate, it is a part of the culture of those we serve.
The shelter project brings many things to the homeless men in our community. The warm safe place to sleep and food are the basic services provided but the respect and love that is passed onto the men gives them a sense of being a part of a family. During the time of the shelter project an opportunity is present to identify those men in need of medical attention. Last year we identified a man who was ill but had not sought medical care. With the support of his hosting church and our staff, we helped him obtain care. His diagnosis of esophageal cancer was not anticipated.
Since the project ended last March, we have supported this client through his medical experience. Now, as he reaches the end of his time on this earth, he continues to have the support of our staff. His family travelled from Georgia and wanted to transport him home. He chose to stay here, saying that he has family here and is content to stay.
Some of the men anticipate the shelter project all summer and count on it for housing during the winter. There are those who use the time to save up money to obtain housing in the spring and there are those who just exist for the three months the program is in place. Whatever the expectations of the guests or the churches, the project provides love, warmth and safety for the homeless of our community during the coldest months of the year. This is an opportunity to walk the walk of Jesus for those volunteering, a chance to live Matthew 25:31-40.