I wrote this post yesterday, but my thoughts were a jumble, so here's a clearer version.
I have a hard time saying things up front because I'm always worried that someone will take offense or think I'm too negative.
Yes, The Refuge is in trouble right now. I'm saying it as clearly as possible.
I try to be positive about things because I know that what we are doing by providing shelter to homeless in Lapeer is a good thing. A great thing in fact, because there is no other shelter in Lapeer.
There's clearly a need for one since this winter alone we housed 52 individuals. Actually, the number would be higher if we didn't have a cap set at 20 each night. So, what we are doing is a great blessing to the community. I know that, so I don't want to give up.
But it is a never ending job to get volunteers, keep them and help those in need all at the same time. The job gets harder and harder every year and The Refuge is losing ground steadily.
We need a shelter. We need more than shelter.
But there's not enough people to help.
The Refuge can't continue with the way it is without volunteers and it certainly can't grow to meet the needs that go beyond temporary shelter.
I get so frustrated. I read books about making a better outreach for homeless persons, but don't have enough people to make it happen. Then I decide to read everything on marketing (yes marketing because let's be honest that's what any organization has to do in this day and age), recruiting volunteers, and leading.
I feel like we're just spinning our wheels though. Something has to change and I'm willing to do whatever is needed.
Over the years The Refuge has been a great blessing. It hasn't always been such a struggle.
I listen to our homeless guests stories each year when I sit down with them to an interview and it's unmistakable that The Refuge is a blessing in their time of need. I'm grateful beyond words to be a part of that.
For example, did you know that some would have died from living outside in the cold had we not been there?
Did you know that we have a very small group of ladies who work in the medical field that take time to see our guests regularly while we are open?
Because of their dedication to helping we've actually saved the lives of some of our guests.
We've had several over the years get baptized or recommit their lives to Christ.
Many are in permanent housing now living stable lives because we were there when they needed us.
What a blessing The Refuge has been!
The reality though is we don't have enough volunteers to keep making it happen.
I don't know what to do.
I've been working every angle I can think of.
I've been praying.
I don't care if The Refuge as we know it ends so long as something takes it's place. I'm all for partnering with whomever to get the job done. I just want to help people bottom line.
It doesn't have to be The Refuge, but it needs to be something.
Our community has to come together somehow to meet this need.
People are still out there living in tents, staying on couches from one house to another, still dealing with everything that they have been carrying with them for all this time and wondering if it will ever change.
And say what you want about why these people are homeless or what you think the homeless should be doing to move forward.
Bottom line, the homeless are people. People made by God. Jesus still died for them to save them that they might have abundant life.
Their lives still matter and I want to make sure that I let each of them know that. I want to make sure that whether they accept help or move forward or not move forward that they know that they matter.
If they know that, then at least I've done all I can to show them love and what they choose to do with it is their choice.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Here's my simple prayer. Lord of the harvest send workers into this harvest field. Amen.
My blog can be found at http://myvolunteerlife.blogspot.com/
I'm a mother of two teenagers. Married to my awesome husband of 20 years. I don't work. I volunteer. I am a founding member of The Refuge shelter and involved in inspiring projects in my church, and community.