The first of the month is usually an exciting day for the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) program at Inter-Faith. Our host congregations say goodbye to families they got to know over the dinner table, in van rides, during overnight visits and other activities. And receiving volunteers at the next congregation eagerly await, opening their doors and arms to host during the month ahead.
Then COVID happened, and we had to change our shelter model—but not our commitment to partner with the community to safely house families in need.
From mid-June to August, Ambler Church of the Brethren granted us access to their building. Prepared meals were dropped outside the back door, thanks to volunteers from Zion Baptist Church, Gwynedd Friends Meeting, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Ambler Mennonite Church, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, and Trinity Episcopal Church.
It worked out well. We are so grateful to Church of the Brethren for their faith, for trusting us, and for modeling how helping families in need far surpasses the “what-ifs” we may tend to get stuck on. No one has contracted COVID-19 while in the program. And the families left the church without a trace, except their gratitude.
Now, two families are housed at another congregation for September and October (we’re not sharing the name to protect our families’ privacy). This too is an adventure of faith, mutual trust, and just doing it because it’s the right thing to do, right now.
We are grateful for the kind compassion shown to the families by our October hosts. They greet the families each evening with a warm, “Hello, how was your day?” The families are appreciating the real beds, the good food, the basketball net, and playing with the pastor’s son.
IHN congregations are staying involved. Grace Baptist Church planned their September Faith in Action week to include preparing meals. And this month, we are lucky to have the generous support of longtime partners at Bethlehem Baptist Church, who will organize meals and other assistance, and of volunteers from St. Rose of Lima Church, who will be providing meals for two weeks.
We have settled on a host for November and December. We also have two buddy churches, Trinity Lutheran Fort Washington and Keystone Fellowship, scheduled to bring meals.
January 2021 will mark another Move Day. We aren’t certain of the plan or the place yet…but we have faith things will work out.
We are all in this together. We are being creative, safe, and most of all, we are serving families who need the basics like a bed, meals, and guidance to become stably housed. Thank you for being a part of our programs. Together we are changing lives!
If you’d like to get involved, there are lots of opportunities! We are recruiting donors for our holiday program (see below), meal providers, and volunteers to paint an apartment at Hope Gardens. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!