The Winter Relief is an emergency shelter for homeless men and women during the winter months. The program provides so much more than shelter. Through this ministry relationships are formed, barriers are broken down and folks from very different walks of life learn and grow together. SPUMC joins with about 45 local congregations each winter to ensure that our houseless neighbors have a safe, warm place to live. Our congregation hosts about 40 men and women at the church for two weeks each year. The overall ministry is organized by The Arundel House of Hope.
The Winter Relief mission in our church just ended and we would like to thank the 300 plus volunteers that participated and put in over 1300 hours to make the Winter Relief week a success. We not only provided our 43 guests a place to sleep, three meals a day, snacks, laundry services, sewing repairs, transportation to jobs, and showers but were able to fill clothing needs and provide both dental services (Dr. Dave Deitrick and Lori Schaefer) and barber services. Our guests played bingo, were entertained by our very own Mentalist, Dick Steiner, attended a Bible study led by Nancy Landers, listened to the Praise Band, were entertained by Josh Bennett and Chris Dillard on guitar and by the singing of our youth group. Several of them attended their first bonfire with S’mores at the home of Deb Harden.
But Winter Relief goes way beyond this. I think it was summed up perfectly by several of our guests who stated “You welcomed us in and made this our home.” Another guest told us “I have never been in the Winter Relief program before but of all the shelters I have been in you have made me feel the most comfortable and welcome at your church.” Other guests told us how they were shunned and judged by many people, but our church volunteers and members treated them warmly, respectfully, and accepted them for who they were and the situation they were in.
Our volunteers served them with their hands, feet, hearts, and time, but most importantly they loved them as Jesus would have loved them. This is truly what Winter Relief is all about. Not only were the guests blessed in many ways, but our entire church was blessed. If you did not get a chance to participate in the Winter Relief Mission this February, please consider getting involved in the future. Please put the following week of Winter Relief on your calendars: February 6 – 13, 2017. We would ask you to keep all of the homeless population in your prayers.
To connect with this ministry contact Carolyn Heim.