Tag Archives: needy

Ministering to the Homeless 6

Church opens its doors, heart for homeless to keep warm 

By Chris Green
(originally posted Feb 11, 2007, no longer in print – see below for an update and another link)  You can find a copy of the original here
ROCKFORD — The thermostat in the sanctuary at First Christian Church is set at a toasty 75 degrees. The only thing warmer Tuesday in the tiny house of worship was homemade chicken soup and the hearts of those who served it, the Revs. Alphonzo and Barbara Heath. 

The husband and wife pastors have opened up the doors of their southwest side church at 325 Heath St. to serve as an impromptu warming center and 24-hour, seven-days-a-week shelter for the homeless. 

 Barbara Heath said local weather reports last week on the evening news predicting the current spell of sub-zero temperatures prompted the church to start the fledgling ministry.

“When I was looking at the news, they said the temperatures were going to be life threatening. I said, ‘We don’t have enough places for people to go to in the city.’ I told my husband, ‘We’re opening the church.’ I just felt it’s our responsibility.” 

Coinciding with the arrival of the arctic blast Sunday, the Heaths not only have welcomed the homeless, they are feeding them breakfast, lunch and dinner. In between meals, fruit, coffee and tea is available.  All is provided with funds from the 25-member congregation, outside donations and the Heaths’ own pockets.

In the basement of the church, a small kitchen is where the smell of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables and other nightly meals have originated and lofted throughout the 1,100-square-foot building. The basement also is where large squares of cardboard have been taped together, spread on the floor and topped with blankets on which the guests may sleep.  In another corner of the basement, those same guests congregate during the day to watch TV, play cards and read magazines.

“A local business owner/Christian brought two checks, one for $100 and one for $150,” she said. “Somebody gave my husband $60 and another person gave $40.” More moving than the monetary donations were the offerings from a woman who learned of the church’s shelter and brought blankets. “And you know what? She took her coat off and left it, too,” Heath said.

Word about the church opening its doors spread through Rockford, a city of around 150,000. The announcement was an answered prayer for one man in the congregation. After worship ended, he told Barbara he had no place to live, as of that day.  “He stayed, and he’s been there ever since,” she said.  
The local newspaper ran an article on Feb. 7. Two television stations featured the church in local news segments.   First Christian is now sheltering up to 20 people each night and feeding 60-70 during the day. Some families who have homes but no water due to frozen pipes come to the church for dinner. Others arrive during the day to get warm, and then go back to other shelters at night.
Oldtimer’s comment:  While sleeping on cardboard is hardly luxury living, it is warm and safe.  These people would have been sleeping behind buildings in the snow without these accommodations.   Since this story is a year old already, I’ve looked for an update to see what is happening.   Here are some related Good News!

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ROCKFORD ILL.   Ivy Mims wasn’t sure what she was going to do for Thanksgiving dinner.Mims, who works two jobs and is working toward becoming a registered nurse, said her busy schedule and tight budget usually mean a baloney sandwich or TV dinner for eats.

Things weren’t going to be too different this Thanksgiving.    While traveling down State Street in downtown Rockford with Joseph Diaz, she on foot and he in his wheelchair, they got a pleasant surprise – a sleek black limousine pulled up next to them offering a ride and a good meal. 

Quincy Heath, owner of Heath Limousine, picked up nearly 40 people on Thursday to give them a luxury ride to First Christian Church, 325 Heath St., for a free meal.   (Oldtimer’s note: Quincy is Alphonzo’s brother)

Mims, who is Diaz’s personal assistant, said she didn’t know anything about the free meal but quickly found out Heath was for real.

Heath picked up passengers from the Rockford Rescue Mission, bus stops and other locations in town. Many were homeless or poor, others just might not be able to scrape up enough cash or time to cook a quality meal. Heath and First Christian Church gave them a chance to get a little first-class treatment.

“A lot of people don’t have and they don’t know what it is like to have,” Heath said.

For years, pastors Barbara and Alphonzo Heath had quiet family dinners on Thanksgiving, but for the last two years, they wanted to branch out.

“Melannie Boston, who moved gingerly on a swollen ankle, had fallen on hard times. She and fiance Richard Bockewitz are living paycheck to paycheck and constantly on the move, finding different places to stay.

“They let us have luxury for just one day; it was nice,” Boston said. “They care enough to take time from their family to help us here.”

This is What Ministering to the Homeless and Needy Means!

Ministering to the Homeless 1

Minister seeks homeless despite snow, ice

I’ll be regularly inserting stories as winter sets in that illustrate what true ministry to the homeless means.  I hope it inspires a few readers to action.   Not all these stories are about Christians doing the work.  Ministering to the homelessness and needy is not the responsibility of any one religion, any one government, nor any one person.  We all must pitch in.    Jews, Muslims, Christians, Atheists, everyone with a good heart can share.   I am a Christian, but I want to be careful not to offend anyone else in their ministry in their own way.   Everyone counts and we all are needed to help.

This first report starts in the 1970’s with Reverend Ronal King when he started ministering to homeless.  He is the founder of Christians Feed the Hungry .  The following story dated February of this year illustrates a very small portion of his work.  His ministry works out of Rock Hill, South Carolina, one of the poorest areas of the country.  There are areas in which entire communities do not have running water, such as along Blackmon Road.  

“For decades, Blackmon Road has been a magnet for York County’s poor. The community lies at the end of a dirt road off S.C. 72, less than two miles from downtown Rock Hill. Many residents are squatters who live in crumbling shacks or old school buses with no indoor plumbing or electricity. “

(I found this story at HeraldOnline but it has since been removed) 
By Toya Graham · The Herald – Updated 02/01/07 – 11:24 PM

As temperatures hovered below freezing early Thursday, the Rev. Ronal King got in a pickup truck and headed down Interstate 77 in search of those who had nowhere to go to escape the bitter cold and promised snow.
“We want to make sure no one freezes to death,” said King, founder of Christians Feed the Hungry, a nonprofit agency that reaches out to the hungry, homeless and those who are destitute and indigent.Before long, King found three men and a woman huddled underneath several I-77 overpasses. Three more were found during the early morning hours behind two Rock Hill businesses, and one other was at a local hospital — all had nowhere to go.King took three to a Charlotte church. He put one up at a Rock Hill hotel. Two got warmth in a Feed the Hungry car for several hours, and one was returned to his family.The eighth person declined assistance. “We gave him scarves, gloves and a hat and food,” King said. “He preferred to make it on his own.”King searches every night for those who are homeless, looking once at 11 p.m. and again at 3 a.m. While King was able to make a difference for the eight on Thursday, he was discouraged because there were no available rooms in a Rock Hill shelter!

Oldtimer says: I came across the following just before Thanksgiving as an update to further illustrate what his ministry does: 

“Feed the Hungry” Looking for Turkeys…
Submitted by CN2.COM Editor

According to a recent survey, almost 15 percent of South Carolina families do not have the resources to feed themselves during some point of the year.That is why Feed the Hungry’s Rev. Ronal King is out collecting turkeys, to make sure nobody has to go hungry on this Thanksgiving holiday. He purchased nearly 200 turkeys from Wal-Mart in Rock Hill Thursday to take to area churches, shelters, and families in need. King is hoping to get over 1,000 birds by Thanksgiving.“We know just about who we need to feed Thanksgiving Day. But we (also) feed those in prison, EMS workers, people who won’t be home with their families that day. We help! Anyone who will call us will get a meal until the food runs out,” commented Rev. KingThis is what ministering to the homeless and needy means!