By Dana Barber, Member Care Specialist, CBOQ
Minus 11 degrees! That is the average winter temperature, overnight, in Simcoe, Ontario. That is the temperature that chills and bites at those who are homeless. Church Out Serving is trying to do something to ease the pain.
Church Out Serving is a Christian community organization, founded 12 years ago by concerned citizens. These people, from a variety of churches in the area, feel “called into the gaps in service.” While focusing on other community projects, they noticed that homelessness was a growing concern and there were no shelters in their area. Last year they asked First Baptist Church, Simcoe, if they could use the auditorium for an Out of the Cold program on a trial basis. Meals had been served to the community from their facility for years. A good relationship was already established through shared experiences. One of the founding directors of Church Out Serving is a member of FBC Simcoe.
First Baptist Church went one step further. They offered a space that was cozier, had washrooms, and better served the needs of those who would come. Virginia, chair of the board for Church Out Serving, said that “They were the only ones with capacity to run a program like this to meet this unmet need.” When guests arrive at Out of the Cold, they go through a screening and security process. They check their belongings and are offered a warm meal and beverages. Each person will have a cot, a sleeping bag, and a pillow for the night. In the morning they will have breakfast before heading back out to spend the day on their own. Warmth, security, and safety are equally important to each visitor.
And now? This ‘pilot project’ that started last year, offering shelter when temperatures dipped below zero, has just received word that their application for funding has been approved by the county. They can now move forward with plans to host those on the edge that need some warmth, seven days a week. The funding will allow them to hire a coordinator and fight back against –11 degrees. This funding is an answer to prayer. Please pray for the ongoing efforts of these servants working to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Simcoe.
Photos from ‘First Serving’ Dinners at FBC Simcoe
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