Our Neighbor’s Place 2017-2018 Report
Thank you to all who participated in making the 2017-2018 season of Our Neighbor’s Place successful. It takes a congregation to shelter those without homes, and once again, for the sixth year in a row, the congregation of FPCC has stepped up in a big way. Thank you for setting up and tearing down the shelter, helping in the kitchen nightly before the shelter opened, volunteering for a shift, preparing and serving food, purchasing items from the “giving tree,” praying for the ministry, supporting the ministry financially and helping with a myriad of other things. A special thank you goes out to the FPCC staff who work tirelessly while the shelter is here to keep everything as it needs to be. Our humble appreciation goes to Jackie Jones, who stays the night EVERY night the shelter is at FPCC. We could not run the shelter as we do without Jackie, and we thank God for his love for this ministry. Our guests thank God for Jackie’s love of cooking as they truly enjoy his hot breakfasts.
The shelter was housed at FPCC for just six weeks this year. FPCC sponsored the shelter for 3 weeks and the First United Methodist Churches sponsored the shelter for three weeks. During our three weeks, we provided shelter, dinner, showers, clothing, toiletries and breakfast for 927 total bed nights. 548 bed nights were provided for two weeks in November and December with an average of 30 men and 10 women per night. 379 bed nights were provided for one week in March averaging 41 men and 9 women per night. Our busiest night was March 19th when we housed 59 people, and our lightest night was opening night on November 22nd when we housed 30 people.
Three churches have participated in a night of ministry by providing dinner and volunteers for an entire night. Church of the Cross and the Cathedral of Saint Paul have done this all season and Fairview Presbyterian Church joined them in March. Many groups within our congregation and many different churches provided dinners throughout the season, and we had a surprise when Chick fil-A volunteered to bring a dinner that our Deacons served.
We noticed a few trends this year. The homeless population using Our Neighbors’ Place is getting younger with many guests in their late teens or early twenties, and we are seeing more guests with intellectual challenges. These trends bring a new set of challenges in running the shelter.
The community instituted a new call-in number this winter to coordinate the needs of those seeking shelter. Although this system has experienced some growing pains, it has been fairly effective. They report being overwhelmed with calls and the lack of beds in Erie since the overflow shelter has closed for the season. Yes, FPCC provides a very valuable ministry during the winter months.
It takes an entire congregation to run a shelter and we cannot thank you enough for opening your hearts,
your schedule and your pocketbook in support of Our Neighbors’ Place.
Joy and peace, Dale and Pat