One of our members, Jake Folger, himself recently homeless, has been a catalyst for this heightened awareness, challenging us to stretch ourselves and to become more directly engaged with people who are homeless and live on the street. At his website, http://friendtothehomeless.org, Jake shares stories about homeless people he has met and helped through the offering of conversation, food, clothing or access to a shower, when possible. One reader said this about the website:
“The stories on your website are always provocative. It is hard enough for anyone — even those with homes — to get adequate help/treatment with mental illness. It’s a double whammy for those without homes. I think your website really helps me to understand more fully and personally the life of a homeless person. It takes me beyond the disheveled man on the corner asking for money to why they are there and what their life is about beyond that moment when I see them.”
The website also offers a forum for conversation where people can openly discuss their own challenges in responding to the need they find on the streets, including such questions as whether to give money (or something else) and what the appropriate contents of a care package might be.
Heightened engagement has included a series of after-worship discussions open to the entire community. These grew out of conversations led by Josh Morgenstein and Jake about how we as a church community can learn to know and care more about people living on the street.
Seekers continues its long-standing connections with organizations addressing systemic issues related to homelessness, including the development and operation of affordable housing. Over the years, those organizations have included For Love of Children, Hope and a Home, Manna, N Street Village, Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place, Silver Spring Interfaith Housing Coalition, Community Vision, Sarah’s Circle and L’Arche of Greater Washington. Most of these connections remain strong today and are supported financially through our domestic giving budget and in-kind by board, staff and volunteer/mentoring activities.
Our more direct connections, through Jake and others who have joined our congregation, help us to continue to grow in our willingness and ability to welcome all to God’s table and to move from charity and good intentions to solidarity and appreciation, from merely ?helping the homeless? to knowing and caring about individuals among us.
Check out the conversation on Jake’s web site, share your ideas, lend a hand.