By Don Kuck
The sign says ‘Will Work for Food’, but would he really do some work if I asked him to? Not likely. I suppose maybe I should give him some money, but . . . is the money just going to feed an addiction? I don’t mind helping someone in real need, but I don’t trust this guy asking for money. If only I had a way of knowing ,. . .”
Do you ever feel guilty about not giving money to that panhandler standing by the freeway exit? Or maybe you do give him money, but you wonder where your money is going. Christ does call us to love “the least of these”, but He also wants us to be smart about it.
Our local Shelter Association of Washtenaw County screens, supports, and directs those among us who have fallen on hard times. They help these individuals to stay sober, stay off drugs, seek jobs, and find a place to live. The Shelter Association needs some help—it can’t house everyone who comes knocking. So they ask the local faith community to help them.
St. Luke is being asked to help shelter 25 homeless guests for the 3rd week in January. I think we can do that. In fact, we have been doing it for many years. And I think we do it very well.
If we are to continue to serve these men, we need help. After 11 years of organizing our St. Luke homeless shelter week, I’m stepping down. Rather than finding a single person to take it over, the plan is to have a group of individuals and couples who will divvy up the duties.
For example, one person can help coordinate the meals, one person to organize the small groups each night, one person in charge of overnight hosts, one person in charge of the daily laundering of towels, etc.
For those of you who have been a part of this ministry, please consider joining our committee to help organize our volunteers. Your experience can really help make this transition to a more shared ownership model much more effective. For those who don’t have experience, that’s OK too—a new perspective can help improve on our current routine.
The more volunteers we have, the less responsibility anyone needs to have. I would like to see at least 8 or 10 people on the committee. I think this is ultimately a better and more efficient way to organize our week of service.
I’ll be heading the committee, at least for now, and I’ve got most everything you would need on computer—sign-up forms, instruction sheets, timeline for getting stuff done, and announcements.
This is a multi-site project, and Living Water and ULC will again be helping serve our guests at our Ann Arbor campus. We will again be utilizing both small groups and individual volunteers. We will be needing a couple new small groups to help out, so if you think your small group might have some interest, let me know.
Our current groups have found the shelter week to be a very good service project—not only for the adults, but for the entire family. There are various ways that kids can help out and become part of the outreach to our guests.
Our Homeless Ministry Information and Planning night is on Tuesday, September 16 at 7:00 pm in Room 102. Please call 734-434-9496 or email me if you have any questions and if you can attend the meeting. We are definitely hoping to get more youth involved.
Not sure? That’s OK, come on September 16 or join us at the Userve event on Saturday, October 4th for more information. We’ll get you more details and answer your questions.
Still not sure about helping the homeless? If you’ve never had much contact with homelessness, you likely have a lot of concerns and even fears. That’s normal and understandable; just ask Lisa Maas—she has very honestly articulated the concerns and emotions that many of us have experienced in her blog Dirty, Crazy, Scary Fears.