This is the seventh article in a series on ministering to the homeless. This one is special. It is about a ministry by Steve Brigham that has touched my heart to the extent that I’ve included his ministry twice. The first article on his minstry dates back to February of 2007. I thought it was time for an update because the compassion and love and sacrifice required for this ministry is just enormous. The article below is reproduced only in snippets to give you a flavor of what the good Reverand does for the homeless. Please read the Tri-Town News story for the rest of it.
Rev.’s appointed rounds are off the beaten path
Steve Brigham continues outreach to homeless population
BY TOYNETT HALL Staff Writer Tri-Town News January 10, 2008
On a regular basis the Rev. Steve Brigham of the Lakewood Outreach Ministry wakes at the crack of dawn to visit 11 campsites in Ocean County. These are not the type of campsites where families go to spend a weekend enjoying nature.
Brigham walks along railroad tracks and trudges through the muddy forest floor bearing gifts for the homeless people who live in these campsites and who have become his friends. One of his goals is to make sure that the people who live in tent encampments throughout the county have enough propane gas to run the heaters that keep them warm through the cold winter nights.
As he reaches a group of tents in what is identifiable as a Mexican encampment, Brigham offers blankets to the people living at the site and tells his amigos where tortillas are being cooked and that he will bring them a big tent the next time he comes.
A short time later Brigham is driving his bus – a motel on wheels – to a site called Shanty Town. At this campsite some of the dwellings are made with wood that came from a lumber yard. Other people live in tents that have been provided by Brigham and anonymous donors.
The last site of the day was also in Toms River. At that spot Brigham pitched tents for Gloria, 65, and Richard A. Mazzella Jr., 33. Both individuals said they ended up here as a result of financial hardships.
Another resident of the camp, Robert Wayne Pisano, said he has been homeless since he was 16. He is now in his 40s. Pisano said if it were not for Brigham’s kindness, he does not know where he would be. He said Brigham offers people like him a measure of hope.
“I have never seen a man take time out of his life like this. This guy cares who you are and where you are. He treats us like we are his own kids. Every piece of clothing I have on right now is because of Steve,” Pisano said.
As tears welled up in his eyes, Pisano said, “We have nothing. Yes, we are homeless, but we want to be treated like everyone else. Please recognize us.”
According to statistics from the New Jersey Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit, as of Jan. 25, 2007, there were 14,939 homeless people in New Jersey. Of that number, 12,397 were adults and 2,542 were children.
In Ocean County, 366 adults were found to be homeless. In Monmouth County, 590 adults were found to homeless, according to information provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. These numbers may be under-reported, according to the agency.
Anyone who would like to assist the Rev. Steve Brigham may call (732) 364- 0340 or (732) 814-5537. Brigham may also be reached at Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, P.O. Box 326, Lakewood, NJ 08701.
THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!
Winter is Here, It is already cold,
It is Cold to the Bone
Please volunteer somewhere!