Community Ministries Update 5/14/20

How They’re Doing.

This is Carlos. We’re used to seeing him passionately play the hand drums with our worship team during the 10am and 5pm worship services, now we see him at the front window of the church through these steel bars (dramatic…I know!). And yet, despite the circumstances and despite the distance between us, his smile is just as big as it ever was. The excitement and love shared between us is as real as it ever was. For weeks, we hadn’t seen Carlos. With cell phone numbers frequently changing or phones suddenly shut off, it’s hard for us to stay in touch with many of our friends during these times. For weeks, we were concerned about Carlos’ wellbeing–“where is he staying?” “is he sick?” “does he need anything?” “does he know we’re still here for him?”. This wasn’t just the case for Carlos, but for so many of our friends from CM programs and the 5pm service. While there are a handful of people we can call, most contact with our friends happens by simply being present at the church. During these strange times, even if they aren’t coming for crisis care or social services, our friends come by to say “hello” and tell us how they’re doing. Or, they send their friends with a message to give us…

Community Ministries Update 04/30/20

How We’re Doing.

Over the last several months, I have had the special privilege of seeing this group of strong, loving, compassionate, opinionated, energetic (i.e. loud and talkative!), committed, hardworking, patient… (the list goes on and on) individuals turn into an outstanding ministry team. Our Community Ministries team is currently made up of 3 full time staff (Chelsea, Isizah, Whitney) and 3 part-time staff (Rodney, Alfonso, Joey), who also double as the church operations team. We were sad to see Ronald, our part-time Kitchen Assistant, leave when COVID-19 hit, but deep down he’s still one of us!

Our CM Team is still going strong in providing services to our friends experiencing homelessness. 

Community Ministries Special Project!

Bridging The Divide.

Among the most valuable ministries that take place around All Angels’ Church is the real relational connections made between individuals experiencing homelessness and those who aren’t. We’re reminded each week in evening worship that “Christ is the host, and we are his guests.” All of us, together and on the exact same footing of Grace, belong together because of the reconciling work of God in Christ Jesus. But we can’t all be together right now, and present circumstances have changed the ways we’re able to connect and interact with one another. With this in mind, we want to try bridging the distance between our Pathways guests, in particular, and the rest of the All Angels’ Church community with a special project. (*Note: approximately 60% of our Pathways guests also attend Sunday worship services, 3:45pm Bible study and/or overnight shelteryou’re more familiar with them than you might think!).

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

How to Help the Homeless During COVID-19.

We’re ready for you!

Dear Friends,

THANK YOU for all the ways you’ve supported Community Ministries these last two weeks! You have been an encouragement to our team as we quickly learn how to adjust our programming to meet the needs of those who have minimal resources due to the new coronavirus. Discerning the best way to show love and care to the homeless in the midst of the pandemic has been challenging, but we have made significant progress. Collaboration with like-minded organizations, combined with the gifts and talents of our community, has given us great vision for how to move forward.

But we’re going to take it one step at a time. We are still unsure about both our capacity for care, and about what is most helpful to the homeless community (physically, emotionally, spiritually) during this time. 

Nonetheless, we are happy to add shower services to our programming starting next week! Every Tuesday and Thursday, guests can now receive showers, medical/psychiatric care, social services, and mail from 8am-2pm. 

Loving the Homeless in a Pandemic: Pt.2

Each week at our Sunday shelter, we are reminded of what it means to find Sabbath rest. We rest not just our bodies on shelter-grade mattresses, or our minds from daily toil. We also rest our spirits, as we collectively lay our burdens at the feet of a Loving Father. We rest as we–sometimes nervously, always earnestly– worship the Almighty King. After a long and disorienting week, with the refuge of homeless outreach programs and public spaces disappearing with every passing hour, 18 men and 7 women from our community gathered at All Angels’ to rest with one another. It was an intimate, vulnerable, and heartwarming evening. For those of you who watched the Evening Prayer livestream, it was special to have you with us! After rounds of applause and expressions of gratitude from our shelter community for being “the last place to stay open”, you can only imagine how challenging it was to put our programs on pause for the next two weeks…

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