Monday, January 22, 2018

Homeless Coalition Stand Down

This past Saturday a few of us from Burning Bush Communities had the opportunity to team up with other non-profits and homeless ministries as we participated in the Lee County Homeless Coalition's "Stand Down and Homeless Service Day." Each ministry or participating group set up a booth and offered goods or services to our neighbors in need, including: hair cuts, sleeping bags, flu shots, hygiene kits, blankets, water bottles, flashlights, employment opportunities, and much more. At our table we offered chapstick, hand sanitizer, skin care products, and nail clippers (which were a smash hit!). We probably served close to 500 people, and gave away around 600 nail clippers!

With Tonya and Tom from our Come as You Are community.

The event was truly inspiring for a variety of reasons. First, it was awesome to see the potential of the agencies working together. That is, after all, the idea behind the Coalition! None of us could pull of an event like that alone, and my hope is that it inspires further collaboration. Second, the diversity of the volunteers at the event was inspiring. There where people of all ages, races, classes and political stances working together for others... and that's not something we encounter too much these days! Additionally, the joy of the volunteers working was striking. I'm so used to seeing bored and uninspired volunteers at events, and it was energizing to see people actually fired up to be a part of this work.

The final reason the event was so powerful was it gave us an opportunity to see many of our homeless friends who we haven't seen in a while. One of the challenges of doing homeless ministry is that you might grow close to someone over the course of a few months, and then they vanish. Maybe they go to the hospital and then to a halfway house, or maybe they're arrested, maybe they finally get housing... you don't know. And frankly, it's easy to fear for the worst given the health problems and dangers that many of them live with. So the chance to see some of our friends who had disappeared on us was a huge blessing. Moreover, it was special to see their gladness to visit with us; it was validating for our ministry for these brothers and sisters to also recognize us as friends who want to know them, and not just provide for their material needs. And in this regard I want to highlight Tonya (in the picture above), who has been serving meals to the homeless in a park in Fort Myers for a decade. So many people knew her and joyfully greeted her, and it was a huge testimony to her faithful service year in and year out. You and your team are amazing Tonya!

Let me wrap up by also saying THANK YOU to all our supporters who gave us the means to participate in this event... you were a part of our success and joy on Saturday!

Please see more pics below and here's a link to the Newspress article about the event Click Here.

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