With the email subject line “MIRACLES HAPPEN,” the Interfaith Shelter Network recently announced it has accepted the First Place award in the Harrah’s “All-in-4 Change” grant competition. Along with the award comes a $50,000 donation that will go a long way in helping the charity realize its vision to eliminate homelessness in the urban communities of San Diego County.
Several South District UM churches make up part of the 65 to 70 congregations of faith who participate each year in the Interfaith Shelter Network’s Rotational Shelter Program. The churches open their doors to provide emergency shelter to 12 to 15 guests referred by participating case management agencies. The program is open to those who are clean and sober, free of severe mental illness and willing and able to work on a plan to end their homelessness.
North Coast UMC in Oceanside has been part of the Interfaith Shelter Network since 2004 when Rev. Cindy Arntson approached Phil Angelotti about starting the program at that church. “My faith is everything,” said Phil. “Christ had nothing and He gave and served, and taught us to do the same.”
When the church was constructed, then Pastor Richard Smith assessed the needs of the surrounding community and adapted their buildings to best serve their neighbors by installing a commercial kitchen and bathrooms with showers. The only thing the congregation needed now was a place for the guests to sleep. Church volunteers converted a large storage room into an inn by making partitions out of PVC pipe and curtains which remain in place throughout the year.
Because the members of its congregation are older, North Coast teamed up with the local Church of Latter Day Saints to provide overnight hosts. “The steps that Jesus took to serve – we take together. We have the same goals and the same drive to serve our community,” said Phil. “You can see God’s hand in it every day. Angels keep appearing to help,” added Machele Gregory from the LDS Church.
Most churches participate for two weeks rotations. But, so much help has been provided in the collaboration with the LDS Church that North Coast UMC houses guests 10 weeks a year! Angels DO appear. Miracles DO happen.
Congratulations to the Interfaith Shelter on your award. May God bless you and the guests you serve.