Read the full issue of this week’s newsletter here: The Weekly Liberal May 11.
A note from Peg Mitchell, First Universalist member and coordinator of volunteers for our Families Moving Forward hosting weeks:
As we prepare to host families who are experiencing the loss of a “roof over their heads,” I am remembering a period in my life where I had failed in my business, had spent all my retirement savings just to meet my daily living expenses and had to face making a career change that would allow me to get back on my financial feet. I was overwhelmed with fear and had little confidence in my future. However, I was supported by my community and learned to say the following words to myself each day: “I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, gas in my car and a warm bed at night. For today, I have what I need.” I repeated that sentence every day for over six months and as I entered month seven, I learned that what I had was “enough.”
Hosting families in their time of transition allows us to offer those words of assurance through action. For the seven days of Sunday, May 28 through Saturday, June 3 and again Aug. 20 – Sept. 3, we provide a warm (or cool) bed, plentiful food, and access to transportation, allowing families to concentrate their energies on finding affordable housing and employment that will sustain them. Families of all configurations arrive at our church at about 5:45 p.m. each day, share a meal with us prepared by volunteers, and engage in activities such as games and movies. Families are also given time to prepare lunches for the next day. Each family finds their “bedroom” at the end of the evening. The set-up team has transformed the Religious Education rooms from classrooms to bedrooms, complete with matching sheets, toiletry items, and flowers on the table. As our guests prepare to depart at 6:30 a.m., they are greeted by our overnight hosts and offered breakfast.
What does it take to pull it all off? Approximately 60 volunteers per week, in addition to the host coordinators. Each night we ask for 3 volunteers to prepare dinner, 3 volunteers to engage in evening activities, and 2 volunteers to spend the night (comfortable beds are provided). We need 12 volunteers to transform classrooms to bedrooms and then return them to classrooms at the end of the stay. Volunteers have also stepped in and offered to prepare a hot breakfast on Saturday morning when our guests can stay longer, scramble to rearrange a bedroom as one family transitions out and another comes in mid-week, and host a picnic over Memorial Day.
This is multi-generational hospitality! Families from our congregation have had wonderful experiences volunteering with Families Moving Forward. We have observed 10-year olds helping 6-year olds read, 13-year olds turning fingernails into works of art, 60-year olds and 14-year olds orchestrating a full-blown game of kickball. Come one, come all!
We welcome all people interested to visit the table in the Social Hall following each service on Sunday, May 14 and May 21. Volunteers can sign up directly online using Sign-Up Genius. Questions and comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.