April 13, 2009
Friend of the Welcome Ministry
I woke up to yelling and a women gesturing with a knife. It was my first night in the women's shelter, and the cook wanted to let us know how grateful we should be that she was making our breakfast. The next morning she woke us up at five to let us know she would not be waking us up for another hour. When I told her I was allergic to dairy, she told me she had to put cheese in the eggs, or they would turn green.
After spending this last week on the streets and in the shelter, I experienced the abuse that is inflicted on others through lack of voice and choice. My nights in the women's shelter reminded me of life living with an abusive parent who praises or punishes in volatile way that kept me wondering at all times what the rules were. It turns out that the rules were whatever those with power said they were. I found myself growing passive and unable to advocate for my own needs (those who know me will tell you how unlike me this is). I also found myself jumping in front of a swinging cane to prevent a man from hitting a woman. After he left she remarked: "He thinks I'm his girlfriend, but really I'm his punching bag." Then I remembered that human nature sometimes makes it easier for us to care for others.
The Welcome Ministry is designed to be an antidote to the experience that many hungry and homeless individuals live with day to day. After living on the streets for a week, I am convinced that the Welcome Ministry offers our friends is unmatched by other service agencies in the city. We listen more than we speak, we center our programs around community and work with our guests to increase the number of choices they have. When their voices are not being heard, we advocate for them whilealso teaching them to advocate for themselves. And at the same time we are able to help our guests acheive their goals. Last year 155 of our guests were able to move indoors.
You can read about my reflections on the streets at: http://mystreetretreat.blogspot.com
Now that I am back in the comforts and privilege of my work at the Welcome Ministry, I am excited to work on creating ways that we can help our friends take care of their bodies and in encouraging them to exercise choice and strength in their voice.
Our work includes helping our friends heal from post traumatic stress disorder and learn more about life skills and health. Later this year we will begin to provide worship that is designed for their particular mental health and addiction needs and a media story telling project that will connect guests to their family.
Please support this work with your time, talents and treasures. The more financial support you offer the Welcome Ministry, the more time I will have to share my learnings from the street with faith groups, organizations and politicians. And more importantly, the more time I will have to give one on one support to help our guests improve their quality of life.
I beg you to send a gift of $77, $770 or $7000 to the Welcome Ministry in honor of my 7th street retreat.
Rev. Megan Rohrer
P.S. Your gift to the Welcome Ministry allows the homeless to improve their quality of life without losing their dignity!