Preparing to Begin the 2011/2012 Shelter Season
Preparing the Intake Center
We began last November with full tables of blankets, sheets, pillows, sanitary items, food pantry
goods, love, and willingness. We ended with empty tables, a depleted pantry, and a ton of laundry to do. Since closing, we
have slowly begun to recover and the tables are filling up, once again, with clean bedding. We’d like to thank Ron and
Patrice, Diana, Luke and Dani, Ray, Mike, Alyssa and her home group, and so many of our homeless friends who have toted, did
laundry, and performed some of the grossest work I’ve seen.
The Intake Center at St John’s Lutheran, is coming together, with some much needed filing
space, the addition of office furniture, and technical equipment, and we are still trying to procure some indoor/outdoor carpeting,
and a ceiling. We are even looking for someone to make curtains, giving it a homier feeling for our first-time guests. Could
this be YOU?!
There are many ways to serve between now and November (the start of our new season), and most desperately
after we reopen.
Looking for a Seasonal Home
Some of our volunteers believe that the MAIN St Shelter needs a permanent place. It would make
our lives much easier. Moving the shelter every month is draining in many ways, particularly for our guests. Imagine getting
used to the routine at one location, only to have to re-acclimate on a dime to entirely different surroundings, all the while
trying to get an evening’s rest. People tell me to “have faith” for such a place.
We do believe that we need a permanent home for the shelter, and also believe that is should be
the faith community that provides that ministry. However, our budget is very
tiny, and by and large, the faith community to this point, will provide gifts in kind (pillows, blankets, food, etc.), but
the expenses of running a shelter have been terrible.* It was during Lent, when
folks counseled me to “have faith,” for a building, but it truly was –in my view– asking me to “Put
God to the test” (jumping off the temple). Faith is putting your hand to
the plow, in obedience to the field God wants planted—believing Him.
Perhaps this is my attempt at that style of faithfulness—asking God’s people if they
would help financially with the planting of a permanent MAIN St Shelter—a really good field, that God desires.
“I tell you, use worldly
wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9
*We do have a few very faithful churches that do help
us in this way, but they are few, and only make up about 1/16th of our expenses, needed to continue. Incidentally,
they are usually the churches that have the smaller congregations, relatively speaking.
Could You Help?
Part of any organization is budgeting. You know, the money issues that fund the work of the organization. In ministry today, this has become an ugly subject due to the marketeering of televangelists,
the franchising of church ministries and the corruption of religious leaders. But without the necessary dollars needed
to sustain the work of ministry, vital ministries would end. Including Jesus’ earthly ministries during the days of
his flesh. (Luke 8.1-3) It is always difficult to sustain the shelter year-to-year
(let alone month-to-month), without the security of committed funding—especially in these difficult economic times.
It seems that every year we are dealt a new financial hardship. We’ve
had people withhold support due to the judged unworthiness of our local homeless community by some (the attitude being that
they are not trying hard enough to be middleclass), and this year because of theological bigotry, we have lost support from
certain churches within our own fellowship of churches because of political ideology. As each year we lose people and contributions,
we understand that faithfulness is still placing your hand to the plow in God’s field, regardless of who likes you today. We began this journey, in faith, in 2005, with a group of people that are no longer
here, or continuing in the work, and it is becoming more and more difficult to sustain this very needed ministry to our homeless
friends without securing the necessary funds (ongoing) that free us to attend to them with dignity and respect. We are simply running out of gas.
“It is difficult to budget without regular giving.”
There are any number of local ministries that manage to do a lot with very small budges, but all of their budgets are
enormous, compared to MAIN ST Shelter’s. We began services to the poor
and homeless in 2004, and opened the shelter doors for the first time in 2006, sustaining these ministries, all for under
$20,000 a year, and in the past few years, for under $10,000. As the needs of
our community increase and the trajectory of funding is decreasing, you can see that we are becoming desperate, fearing that
the only shelter that this area has for homeless individuals will end, unless we are able to secure committed donations, ongoing. Last season’s donations totaled $6,000.
We’ve often been asked, why we don’t compete for grants, and endowment dollars, to which we respond that
we do, when/if we find those organizations that reflect the reasoning behind our sheltering ministry. You see, we believe
that God has instructed His people (the people of faith), with the task of caring for, and lifting up the needs of the poor.
From the Old Testament to the New, from the Psalms to the Prophets, from within
every Abrahamic faith, God’s people were given the responsibility of welcoming the foreigner and the stranger; taking
only what they need for their daily bread in order to share with their neighbor, and offer their own fields to the poor to
harvest, as if they were their very own, and providing for everyone “as they had need.”
We desire to be God’s reflection of His mercy, and so often we (the Church) seem to have delegated those responsibilities
to governments and secular organizations. We are thankful for all of those agencies
in the honest and vital work that they do, but we further would like to see the work of the Church rise to its intended purpose
and responsibility, in faith. With over 3000 biblical references to God’s
concern for the poor, one must conclude that it is one of His major themes and desires.
It speaks as to who He is, as well as who we are.
We are beginning a sustained donations drive to raise the needed funds to operate the shelter year-round. To meet budget we are trying to raise $40,000 in committed funding donations to insure that Pottstown will
not lose its only shelter.
We are asking as a practice of faith, and HOPE.
pray, and see what God would have you to do.