Church steps up to meet needs of homeless during extreme cold weather

Monday marked eight days since St. James A.M.E. Church opened a pop-up homeless shelter when temperatures got dangerously cold.

The church worked with area businesses, agencies and organizations to provide food and necessities for those who needed it.

Pastor Renita Green said Monday the church will be open evenings as long as the temperature is expected to drop below freezing. So far the church has ministered to 27 people, in all sorts of stages of homelessness.

When asked what she has learned in those eight days, Green began ticking off one item after another.

"What did we learn? First, this community is amazing," she said. "More so than I ever imagined. They really care about people."

She said the church and the volunteers are learning about gaps in services, and connecting people to places and people who can help. They're helping one person, who wants one day to become a kindergarten teacher, connect with the university to begin classes, Green said. They're helping another person find a job, simply by letting him use their phone as a contact. He previously had no phone and no way to inquire about available positions, or have the recruiters contact him.

"People are homeless for so many reasons," Green said.

Green said people who have visited the church for shelter or other necessities are beginning to trust the church.

"Persistence and consistency is needed," she said, adding, "And building trust is so important."

St. James A.M.E. is engaged in Christ's work through this effort. We thank and tip our caps to everyone involved in helping keep the homeless warm and fed, particularly during the cold snap. God bless you all.