Paper Products Closet: Last week I heard from a good friend, Stan, who works in the world between our sheltered world and the very poor of the unsheltered world. A world, some call the working poor; I will call it the “sorta” unsheltered world.

This is the world of people who are hard working but at low paying jobs, often without benefits. The “sorta” unsheltered people may not need as much help as the very poor but they often need a helping hand.

My friend told me of a new mission his church developed for the “sorta” unsheltered. They surveyed the people attending their food pantry and found a need for paper products (diapers—even adult—baby Pampers, paper towels, Kleenex etc.)   They began a paper pantry. From a beginning of 30 people they now reach over 200 people.

I was excited to learn of my friend’s idea. I intend to suggest it to our church.

When I travel with our golf team we often have a very early tee time. As we drive to get our breakfast at 6 am, I always make it a point to have the sleepy eyed young men notice many people are not only up and awake, but already on their way to work at 6 am. Then when we get to IHOP, or Waffle House, I ask them to understand the employees were already at work when the team arrived and the bulk of their income is from tips. These hard-working people live in the “sorta” unsheltered world.

The “sorta” unsheltered world is also the world of many elderly people on fixed incomes. I have always been touched by the people who visit our food pantry. Many of them are elderly on fixed incomes – not welfare queens or anything near to fraud; no fancy cars or clothes; people for whom some extra help is deeply appreciated.

Our church started a different paper products program this fall – the teachers’ closet.  At our adopted school we keep a closet stocked with supplies teachers might ordinarily have to buy out of their own pocket; Kleenex, paper towels and other items. In our community, teachers have benefits but the salaries are such, they do not need to be making purchases out of their own pockets. Although all teachers may not “need” help, any support we can give them is gratefully appreciated.

If your church has new programs meeting the needs of the “sorta” unsheltered (or the very needy) I would like to hear them. I always like new ideas for our church and ideas I can share with others.

 Habitat for Humanity: Stan also reminded me the “sorta” unsheltered is the world of Habitat for Humanity. After his retirement from a successful career, he became the regional director for a Habitat program. Through the homes they built and the warehouse they maintained, he was in close contact with the “sorta” unsheltered. He saw first-hand how often people needed a helping hand and he took great joy in providing it.

As an aside —Jimmy Carter has been a part of over 4000 Habitat homes. How many of us can say, we helped with quality housing for 4000 families?

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In all of our lives, medical expenses are important. Medical concerns are extra heavy in the hearts of the “sorta” unsheltered. They may not qualify for Medicaid and often do not have jobs with medical benefits. Medical care is just too expensive—they need help. While many politicians are looking to solve the issues in various ways through the government, in our community, the private sector has stepped up to fill the need. Victory Health Partners is a faith-based organization providing affordable medical services for the uninsured.

In their own words:

Victory Health Partners opened its doors in response to the community’s need for quality, affordable healthcare for adults without health insurance. In its seventeenth year of service, Victory remains committed to caring for the complete needs of our neighbors. ‘Partners’ is purposefully in our name because of the vast network of partners from the medical field and the community at large who enable Victory to provide a full continuum of care for its patients.

I have heard firsthand of their network of many healthcare providers and the community partners of faith who give and provide treatment and drugs to hundreds of the uninsured. I gladly support their efforts.

Are the uninsured getting care in your community? If not, I encourage a visit to Mobile, in order to learn how the program is so successful.

In one of those “coincidences” our daily devotional this week included a story of a fire in which over 80 were killed and hundreds left homeless.  What caught my eye was the following: “Long before the flames had been extinguished, people from the surrounding area had gathered and were offering food, clothing and comfort. Some even offered shelter. The authorities were slow to respond so it was up to neighbors and non-profit organizations to relieve want and suffering…. most of the people in the area did not have much themselves but were willing to share what they had with others.”  

Mathew 25 makes it very clear: “Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance… For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Clearly my heart for the last two weeks has been centered in one of the fruit of the spirit –namely–generosity! Spiritual people are called to be generous. Giving is on my heart—I encourage you to join me in my concern.

It is the people we serve not the rules we keep.

Until next week,

Jerry


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