Spending the Night at Church with Homeless Families

One month a year my church hosts the county’s overflow shelter for homeless families. It’s called Project Home and it’s something I’ve supported for a while now. It’s the organization we were raising money for when we spent a night homeless.

This week I finally volunteered for the organization, sleeping over at my church on Monday night as an overnight volunteer and spending Tuesday evening there as well. There were four families spending the night at our church, five adults and 11 kids. They spend the day at family shelters, finding services they need, working or whatever they need to do, and come to our church for around 12 hours, from after supper until the morning. We offer snacks and breakfast, and then provide whatever they may need. Usually that means keeping the kids entertained while the adults relax.

It’s an eye-opening experience. These are families being chewed up by poverty and the economy. You can see how out of sorts the kids are, in a strange place with new volunteers every night and parents who are pushed to the edge. And I said we’re the overflow shelter—we’re actually the overflow for the overflow shelter. Some months there’s even a third overflow shelter. The need is tremendous.

I’ve been wanting to volunteer with Project Home for a long time, and this year it got to the point where I don’t think I could face my good friend Mark Horvath if I hadn’t volunteered with Project Home. Mark is good at kicking my butt that way.

While I’m glad I finally volunteered, and I’m up for doing it again, I felt completely inadequate. I’m not the outgoing, talkative person who strikes up conversations with ease. I did my job, but I never felt like I did it very well. I guess I felt like these families deserved something more. And they do.

One thought on “Spending the Night at Church with Homeless Families”

  1. Kevin,
    Those experiences are transformative. In the 80’s there was a book by Mark McCloskey, Tell it Often, Tell it Well, which I think fits your experience. You felt inadequate and we always will in these situations and opportunities. But the more you/we do it, the better we will do it.

    Love your tweets.


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