Saturday Homeless Breakfast

So I was reading about homelessness tonight preparing for a breakfast meeting in the morning.  Instead of preparing an email to share with my fellows in the morning I thought I’d just make a post out of it!

The breakfasts have grown dramatically in the last 4 to 6 weeks.  We always run out of food and we always see new faces.  We’re not sure what’s caused the increase but it’s noticeable.  Is this a good thing?  It shows that people need our ministry but volume can’t be a good measure.  If that was the case we could just make breakfast for the 14,000 or so poor people in West Huntsville!  Or not.

While we love seeing our friends on Saturday morning, and some have certainly become friends, we’d love to be alone one day, eating our biscuits and gravy without any poor people in need of it.  But that’s not likely and we have to remind ourselves why and what we are doing.
So I have been trolling around looking for some “best practices”  and I ran across this from CA:  There are two threads here for me: Christ and Leadership.  So Christ has to come first, He taught me to love others just because.  That’s the first reason to be in Tent City, just because.   The second reason, I am calling it leadership, is to lead homeless people out of their circumstances.   Effecting change in the life of a street person is not easy, and it usually ends in “failure”.  But over time we’ve learned this simple truth: effecting change is not the mission.  Showing up and expressing concern, listening to troubles and concerns and praying and helping where possible is the goal.  It’s impossible to fail at this most important objective unless you don’t go.  And while you are demonstrating interest in them and yes, love for them even in their filth, change can happen.

Each Sunday afternoon 40-50 homeless and poor individuals participate in our trash clean up program. This is the first step in their attempt to increase confidence and ultimately obtain a full time job and housing. We are proud that so many have graduated our program and are now completely self-supporting and off all government assistance. Food on Foot

 They are concentrating on transitioning people from the streets into temporary housing, something our friends at www.FirstStopInc.org are very good at.  But they also have developed a homeless-to-work program.  We’ve put together a program at Village Marketplace where people just off the streets are given a room for a day’s (sober) work.  Wonder if we could ask breakfast people to sign up for a work day the following Sunday afternoon like they do in LA?  Then select from the regulars on the clean up crew for Recovery Jobs?

We’re trying to deal with these questions:

  • If more people show up, should we just make more food?  Is there an end to that?
  • How can we more purposefully fulfill our mission by making relationships with the campers when the numbers are so large?
  •  The community certainly has many needs, how can we refer people to the correct service agencies and not duplicate mission efforts?
  • How can we raise awareness so we can acquire more supports and more funding?
  • How can we modify what we serve, how we serve, when we serve, etc to maximise engagement with the campers?
  • How can we engage other churches to participate and amplify our efforts?
Of course, any and all suggestions are welcome, and if I don’t like them I’ll just delete them!  I am after all King of the Universe on my own blog!  Later, love you guys…

3 Comments

  • Nancy

    October 27, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    Great post Matt! The needs are many and the servants few! Making an effort to listen to someone is hard at times, especially if they are not communicating like we want. The most important thing is WE are ALL God’s children, not just some, but all! Unconditional listening – try it folks! No judgments, no offers to solve problems- just listen. You might be surprised!!!!

  • Matt Fowler

    October 26, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Danielle has been out but I think they are making progress. They got their new website up and they have hired a case worker coordinator. I’ll check with her!

  • jeff

    October 26, 2012 at 6:43 AM

    Hey Matt, what is the status on the Outreach Coordinator for First Stop? That is definitely a “leadership” role that would be another good step in the right direction. We were discussing that at the Share Cluster meeting the other night…