A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was continuing to look at ways in which Trinity Church could respond to the increased need to assist the community’s homeless population, particularly in light of the recent (and necessary) downsizing of the Lawrence Community Shelter. Since then, I have met with local government leaders from the county and city as well as religious leaders and the new director of the shelter, Renee Kuhl.
A couple of things I am thinking a lot about is not how do we find ways to create beds for the homeless to sleep in, but moving upstream so to speak to assist the homeless in finding permanent housing. This is a huge undertaking, but I am convinced that even small efforts can produce results. Two concepts I have been kicking around with many people are to open a “post office box” center for the homeless at the shelter which would allow homeless people to have a mailing address so they could receive forms, court documents, assistance checks, etc. to facilitate them moving into housing. This idea was stolen wholesale from a ministry done by another Episcopal Church where six volunteers are able to manage hundreds of drop boxes for homeless people in their city.
The other concept is to look at Shepherd’s Crossing, a “benefit bank” in Manhattan, Kansas where several church combine their financial resources into one trust which is then curated by a LCSW and a handful of trained volunteers who handle intake, assess their situation and provide support, help direct people to additional resources, and do things like assist with people getting photo ID’s. In turn, the churches are able to direct people seeking assistance to one venue, rather than having individuals spending a lot of time going from place to place. I’ve met the director of Shepherd’s Crossing, and hope to learn more about how they got started.
All of these are just ideas in their formative stage, but I’m hoping all these ideas can coalesce into some exciting, faithful opportunities for ministering to some of our most vulnerable members of our population. I’m always interested in your own ideas and feedback, so please feel free to let me know what you think.
Yours in Christ,