Winter emergency shelters welcome homelessBy Alyssa Judd
Published: January 1, 2013
According to Partners Ending Homelessness, on any given day during 2012, close to 1,000 people in Guilford County are homeless. Of that number, 804 homeless people are adults and 201 are children.
To combat homelessness during the cold months, Greensboro Urban Ministry has created a Winter Emergency program. Local organizations and congregations are collaborating with Urban Ministry to provide additional shelters for 103 individuals. The facilities remain open from December 1 to April 1. Fanta Dorley, the director of Winter Emergency (WE!), said the shelters would provide people with a safe, warm environment to sleep.
Before people are accepted into the program they must contact Urban Ministry and undergo an assessment process. The organization helps homeless individuals set goals to obtain employment, housing or medical assistance. Dorley said the people are then given a shelter site in proximity to where they work.
Mount Zion Baptist Church, Summit House, Grace Community Church, Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, Faith Step Ministries and West Market Street United Methodist Church are the housing sites used for Winter Emergencies. Other organizations aid the program by supplying these facilities with volunteers, meals and additional daily living essentials.
Summit House is the only site that accommodates women. Lindy Garnette, the executive director of YWCA, said this site receives help from five churches throughout the Triad and the food served has received outstanding reviews. Some of the homemade meals prepared have included lasagna, meatloaf and baked chicken. Every morning the women receive breakfast and a nutritious snack to get through the day. On Fridays the Summit House hosts a community meeting. The gathering gives the women an opportunity to engage in discussions about their lives. The weekly activities of living for men and women staying in shelters is similar to any person’s life in their own home. When residents aren’t enjoying a delicious meal, they are washing clothes, cleaning, preparing résumes, job hunting or completing other chores. Each day, individuals leave the shelter to work or apply for a job.
Garnett explained that the current economy has strongly affected people. She said in the past when people lost their jobs they were able to find new employment rather quickly. Of the women Garnett has seen at the shelter, many are mothers and grandmothers who have lost their jobs and/or they are fleeing domestic violence. Marshall Benbow, the site director and pastor of Discipleship, a small group at Grace Community Church in Greensboro, said the majority of the men at his site are working but have fallen on hard times and are saving for a place to call their own.
“There are reasons why someone’s homeless. No one sets out to be purposely,” said Benbow. Dorley, Garnett and Benbow encourage community members and area business owners to contact the Greensboro Urban Ministry staff regarding the availability of employment or affordable housing across the city. During this holiday season of giving as well as year round, area residents may volunteer at the Greensboro Urban Ministries in a variety of capacities such as helping clients with résume writing or by donating bus passes.
“Today, we’re very wrapped up in the culture of me, ‘What do I need’. It’s important to look around and focus on other people’s needs,” said Benbow. “We’re a community and need to love each other in our community.”
“I would like to share, that the needs still surpass the resources. And by that it’ll be great if more churches could open their doors or partner with other congregations to help. It’s a huge undertaking to find volunteers seven nights a week for four months.”
“What we are trying to do is supply people with the resources they need to end their current situations,” said Dorley.
For more information about Winter Emergency Assistance or to make donations, contact Urban Ministries at www.greensborourbanministry.org