Kerrie Hein is looking for more volunteers to help with the task of waking the unhoused neighbors who sleep each night in our cloister, providing companionship to them, and then cleaning the cloister after they leave. Since the beginning of the year, Kerrie and a small group of volunteers have taken on this ministry, in the model of Rev. Craig Rennebohm who trained First Church members in this practice last year.
Volunteers are needed on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Although it is best to arrive at 6:30 am, you may arrive as late as 7 am. This new ministry provides a respectful way to help to those who have no other place to sleep as well as the church’s custodial staff.
To volunteer or for more information, please contact Kerrie. You will find her email address in the church online database, Realm.
Kerrie describes some of her experience so far:
From day to day and week to week, the sleepers change. Depending on the weather and personal circumstances, they come and go. The number of sleepers at night and in the morning are different. Some people get up early and leave before we arrive. Lately, our numbers in the morning have been higher. This past week, I had 7-10 sleepers each morning.
Our goal is truly to "companion" folks and to take care of our church. We offer acceptance, kindness, and a safe place to sleep, uninterrupted by police. In the past few weeks, I've directed a number of sleepers to where they can get a free hot breakfast 6 mornings per week. Twice, I walked a cognitively impaired older man to Christ Church on Cedar, where the breakfast is served. I let people know about the resources that we have posted on the doors to the large assembly. Mostly, I just chat a bit about the weather, introduce myself, learn people's names and a bit about them if they want to share.
The experience is putting faces to the issue of homelessness for me: In the last two months, I have have seen:
• people of varied races, genders, and ages from young adults to elders
• people suffering from physical and mental disorders
• sleepers who can barely look at me or whose conversation and belongings I can't make sense of
• sleepers who have jobs and tell me about their lives
• sleepers taking care of our church in various ways, from helping with clean up to telling those with behavioral issues that they can't stay here