Archive for June, 2018

Story by Justin Pierson. Photos courtesy of CARITAS.

shelter family_250pxCARITAS (Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter), began in the 1980s as an all-volunteer effort to provide shelter, cots, and blankets in area churches to those in need for a week or two during the year. The participation of Richmond’s First Baptist Church in the program has been one of the largest undertakings of the Compassion Ministry for over 10 years. Volunteers have cooked meals, taken laundry home to wash, and spent time with CARITAS guests facing crisis in an effort to make a difference in our community for the Kingdom of God.

Through the years, FBC has housed those in the Men’s program during the Thanksgiving week. This grew to include caring for women during a separate week, usually during the summer. However, the constant changing of locations from one church to another each week or two became stressful to guests. In an effort to help alleviate as much stress as possible for their participants, CARITAS has decided to change their model of service for those facing homelessness.

The Healing Place

The Healing Place

The Men’s shelter program has now moved to a permanent location at the Healing Place, a drug recovery facility operated by CARITAS. The Women and Family programs are operating the same as in the past, but will move to a permanent location in 2020.

New facility rendering

New facility rendering

What do the changes mean for those at FBC who want to help? Leadership of the Men’s program would still like churches to help with meals during their assigned week, as well as the “extras” (building relationships, playing games, showing movies, putting on programs, etc.). However, since the facility now houses approximately 200 men, our specific responsibilities and schedule will be a little different. The facility does have a kitchen onsite with staff, so on our assigned week, FBC volunteers will host a Saturday evening meal. FBC will also host other evening activities during the week, as well as collect toiletry and cleaning supplies that CARITAS may need. Currently, FBC is signed up to help during the week of Thanksgiving. While we will not be hosting the Men’s program in our building, our willingness to prepare and serve food, and visit with those at the facility will be just as important a part of our Compassion Ministry.

The Women and Family’s program is still operating the same and will continue to for the next two years. However, because area churches are no longer needed to host the men, more churches have signed up to house CARITAS for women, leaving fewer weeks for FBC to help. The only weeks available this summer were during weeks when other big events had already been scheduled, so we will not be hosting this summer.

More information will be available in the coming months, but for now, take the summer off, reflect on all that we have experienced through helping with CARITAS in the past, and be ready to take on new challenges come November.

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