Community Ministries Update 06/15/20

How the Community Showed Up during COVID

When CM programs took a 2-week hiatus in March, we weren’t sure what next steps for programming and services would be, or how to engage the community in coming alongside our friends navigating homelessness in the midst of a pandemic. But once we started offering limited services in April, we were amazed to see how this diverse community of parishioners, neighborhood friends, and Pathways participants showed up.

Continue reading “Community Ministries Update 06/15/20”

Showering our Friends with Love.

A Day in the Life of our Shower Team…

Yesterday evening, during a virtual Community Ministries volunteer gathering, some of our volunteers asked, How is the CM Team doing? How are our CM friends? We’ll break down those answers in the coming weeks, but first, we want to invite you to see what a typical Pathways day currently looks like for us. 

7:00am Our groggy CM Team arrives onsite for shower setup.
7:30am Shower Registration begins–eager guests are given timed tickets until spots are full (usually by 9:00am).
7:55am Showers begin–the first guest arrives at the front door five minutes prior to their shower time for a screening and hand sanitizing. They are then offered toiletries, underwear, socks, a t-shirt, and other self-care items as available.
8:00am Hurry up and get your shower on!!
8:10am First Shower ends–guests are then offered a coffee, pastry and/or sandwich provided by our partners from Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Inc., receive resource sheets for meals and services around the city.
8:15am Finish bleaching the bathroom and shower stall, wipe down chairs, doorknobs, and any surface or handle in sight.
8:15am Listen to shower guest talk about their feelings, COVID experiences, complaints, concerns, conspiracies, news reports…………….. with as much compassion and grace we have within us! Admittedly, some guests get more than others 😉 

[REPEAT 25 Times.]

In addition, we… 
– Pass out mail to appx. 20 friends per day who use All Angels’ as their primary mailing address
– Pass out coffee and pastries to appx. 20 more friends looking for some warmth or sustenance
– Refer 5-10 clients to the Institute for Family Health for medical or psychiatric care, or social services
– Assist guests with referrals to shelters, unemployment applications, COIVD-19 education, masks & hygiene kits, and etc.

If this sounds like a riveting way to spend your lockdown days, we have a new in-person volunteer opportunity for you! On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-11am or 11am-1pm, we are seeking volunteers to help serve coffee and breakfast foods to our guests. Please email whitney@allangelschurch.com for more information or to sign up. 

Love & Peace,

The Community Ministries Team

Loving the Homeless in a Pandemic: Pt. 1

Dear All Angels’ Family,

Over the last week, I have been grateful for the way our world has collectively made wise decisions to keep us safe and healthy during these times. I have also been deeply burdened by the effects of these decisions on the homeless community. And I have grieved that out of all the regulations and protocols our city has made to protect various populations, you would be hard pressed to hear our lawmakers make mention of the homeless.

Shelters and drop-in centers are already crowded, poorly maintained, and under resourced. With public spaces in which the homeless once found refuge for shelter, showers, and bathrooms–such as movie theaters, gyms, McDonalds, libraries, emergency rooms, shopping malls–all closing down, those in our community are pushing their way into those same crowded drop-in centers to get their basic needs met. At the same time, restaurants close and food donations slow down. Friendly passersby no longer walk the streets. Volunteers at nonprofits tag out. Programs close. Resources become limited. Our community wanders from street to street looking for any place that may be open where they can get their needs met.

For more, read here: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/poverty/news/2020/03/18/481958/lawmakers-must-include-homeless-individuals-families-coronavirus-responses/

And here:

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/coronavirus-homeless-risk-ways-stop-spread-wildfire/story?id=69505076

I say “our community” because many of the people that are experiencing the pandemic in this unique way truly are a part of our All Angel’s community. You know some of them by name. You have had heartfelt conversations with them. You’ve shared worship with them. You’ve loved them and supported them and provided for them.

As of this writing, All Angels’ has remained committed to providing direct services to our homeless friends throughout the pandemic. The Pathways drop-in program (Tuesday/Thursday), Respite Shelter (Sunday), and Meals programs (Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday) have remained in operation, with daily modifications as needed. We have taken a proactive and assertive approach to ensure the safety and well-being of participants, staff, and volunteers.

  • Starting Sunday, March 15th, we began to limit congregating at our meals programs. For the Community Dinner and Pathways programs, we offered takeaway meals, still hot and home-cooked. We also limited our shelter capacity to 20 men and 10 women. 
  • On Tuesday, March 17th, we offered basic services at Pathways. This included medical and psychiatric appointments, showers, and meals (takeaway only). All wellness activities were suspended. 
  • On March 19th, we suspended our shower program.
  • All guests allowed indoors were screened for virus symptoms by the Institute for Family Health. 

Each day, we have been faced with difficult decisions regarding which services are absolutely essential at this time, and which services we could realistically offer to our guests. Through our robust shelter, drop-in, and meals programs, guests have always exclaimed that “All Angels’ does so much!” to meet the needs of the homeless community. This week, with limited staff and volunteer capacity, city regulations, and safe and healthy hygiene and “social distancing” practices, we have done all we can to offer services in a safe yet hospitable manner. Some things worked well. Others were more challenging to pull off. In either case, we saw ear-to-ear smiles of gratitude from guests whose teeth we rarely see.

We are so appreciative of the incredible commitment our volunteers have offered this week. Emails, texts, and prayers from the larger All Angels’ family have been greatly encouraging (even if yet unanswered!). We will continue to send e-blasts and post on our blog and social media outlets to share updates specific to Community Ministries as they arise. We don’t know what our ministry to the homeless will look like next week, or even tomorrow. But we are fearlessly committed to being present with our homeless brothers and sisters during this time. 

Thank you for being present with us.

Peace be with you. 

Chelsea Horvath, Director of Community Ministries

A Little Help From Our Friends

Since 2002, All Angels’ Church has been in partnership with Hope For New York as a way to support the ongoing work of Community Ministries. This organization has been a tremendous resource over the years, equipping our ministry with volunteers, grant funding, trainings, and a network of fellow Affiliates, among other things.

A few weeks back, I was notified that Hope For New York had chosen All Angels’ for the second year in a row as a finalist for the HFNY Community Investment Award–an award given to one of 40+ HFNY affiliates, for an additional $10,000 beyond our grant allotment. This award recognizes the impact of the winning organization on its target communities, as well as its need for additional funding. All we had to do was give an 8-minute pitch–to 50 members of the Community Grant Circle and partnering churches–about who we are, what we do, and how we will use this extra funding.

Here was my pitch: Give us an extra $10,000 and we will use it to hire a Community Ministries Program Manager. 

You might be wondering, “Why do we need a program manager?” and “Isn’t that what you do, Chelsea?”. This is where things get fun…

On the pitch night, I started off by reading a vignette written by one of our parishioners, Belinda Luscombe, about her experience sleeping at the shelter as a volunteer. She described the chasm between herself and the shelter guests, despite their physical closeness as they shared a room together that one Sunday night. I found this to be an appropriate setup to the rundown of programs, services, and events we offer through Community Ministries to 600+ participants per year; It was appropriate because the committed relationship people like Belinda have to our ministry, and to the people who benefit from it, is what makes All Angels’ truly unique. And, family, I can not tell you how many other people want to be able to say the same about their own churches. They tell me so all the time. We really do offer something unique and powerful through Community Ministries, not just to those on the streets but also to our parishioners, and to the city. We have a gift that ought to be shared.

So I ask, What if we could replicate Community Ministries throughout the city? What if we put CM into a model (albeit nuanced) that could be replicated in neighboring churches? What if these new churches we graft through the Episcopal Diocese could all be part of an AAC Community Ministries network? What if the 70,000+ people experiencing homelessness in NYC knew there was a network of churches they could go to for support? What if these churches played a role in addressing the NYC housing crisis in a real and tangible way? Imagine the impact.

At the end of the summer, we will be hosting another Town Hall, so to speak, to give a much more robust and detailed description of what we mean by “replicating Community Ministries”. In the meantime, our priority is to hire a Community Ministries Program Manager (or CMPM, if you’re lazy), to provide on-the-ground program oversight for our shelter, drop-in program, and events, as I (with the help of two committees) do the work of clarifying and tightening up our structures, protocols, services, discipleship opportunities, and long-term goals for the future of the ministry.

Even in writing this post, I get excited. God is doing a mighty work here at All Angels’ and the same can be said for this profound ministry. And, I believe God wants us to give him the space to do an even greater work in it. My prayer is that this new vision, and new team structure, will do just that.

–Chelsea Horvath, Director of Community Ministries

For position details, please view the job description at https://allangelschurch.com/employment/Questions and/or job applications can be directed to chorvath@allangelschurch.com.