My name is Barb, I have been a part of the Chippewa Valley Street Ministry for the past 3 ½ years and on behalf of Pastor Mike Henry and all of the volunteers, I want to thank the you for supporting this ministry.
You will find the street ministry volunteers in the parking lot across from Sojourners every Tuesday and Friday evening and yes, we were out this past week. We give out bags of treats and water to all who stop by. During this time of year we give out coats, hats, gloves, long underwear, hoodies, warm socks, boots and shoes. If we do not have the size or item that is needed, we take their name and information and have it for them the next night we are out. We rely on donations. Monetary donations go towards buying clothing items that we do not have in our storeroom here at Good Shepherd, also gas cards and bus tokens.
We are often asked on the street, “what church are you from?” We are not affiliated with one single church, some volunteers have no affiliation, but what is important is that we all have the same purpose – to be a presence and a listening ear for those who have faced mental illness, addictions, strained relationships with family and friends, and who now find themselves on the street. We are there to listen to their stories, hopefully to gain their trust, and most importantly not to judge.
Our role does not end on these two nights. Pastor Mike makes frequent jail visits, a volunteer has given help to those who struggle with filling out application forms, we have taken those who need medical attention to the E.R., we continue to help a young family who have housing but are currently out of work and do not have a vehicle. We take them to get their groceries and clothing and medicine for their child when needed. We have worked with a family of eight who also have housing but struggle daily to make ends meet. The past couple of years, the mother and I have developed a friendship that I cherish. We are promoting artwork done by a man who has experienced homelessness and we have been friends with for several years
We try to refer those on the street to agencies that can help them find housing. Unfortunately, if they have ever been evicted or have a criminal background, most landlords will not rent to them. It is a struggle and one we do not have the answers for.
Mother Teresa stated that “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in”.
We ask for your continued support to help find safe shelter for the runaway teen, families with young children, older women sleeping in downtown doorways, single pregnant women, trafficked women, men and women of all ages. Together we can make a difference.