For the past three Wednesday nights, we have had a discussion series after our WeWo service in order to explore more deeply three themes of the Belhar Confession: unity, justice and reconciliation. Unfortunately, I missed the conversation about justice as I was away, but I hear that it was a fruitful discussion that raised some excellent points.
One such point is that people in our Church community want to be educated and empowered to better reach out to and help people in need. One such example: a congregant said that if he had a sheet of resources to hand to a man who is panhandling, he would feel more empowered to even approach him, or talk with him and pray with him.
Well, these resources certainly exist – so now it is my job to make sure they are shared! This request to find out how to best help people on the street has come up multiple times, and I am hopeful that we can ever better encourage and equip our congregation to serve and reach out.
For today, I want to share with you the “Street Sheets.” These sheets are excellent guides created and annually revised by Ms. Amanda Parrish Block. They provide information for emergency food, shelter, and hygiene services (such as showers), as well as resources for those seeking jobs, broken down by borough.
To access the Street Sheets, please go to this link: http://streetsheets.re-configure.org/ You can even have the info texted to your mobile phone. We will also print copies of the Street Sheets and have them available at the Action Table in Bay Hall on Sundays.
Please note: this is not in any way an endorsement for approaching any and all people on the street! I encourage you to always use compassionate common sense (or “street smarts!”), as many street homeless people do have moderate to severe mental illness. Some street homeless people are also very independent and will refuse help. And some have more resources than they appear to have. Of course, these Street Sheets may be useful for people you encounter who are NOT on the street – “homeless” people do not always look “homeless!” I do absolutely endorse praying for any and all people you see who seem to be troubled or in need. Donate time, talent and money to organizations (such as those on the Street Sheets) that directly help people in need. We can all make a big difference in a small and humble way. To quote Mother Teresa, “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”