The week since Ascension has been filled with “breaking news” as we get updates on Covid-19, on police brutality, on marches and peaceful protests for justice. As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, we fervently pray: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Our earth and our hearts are overdue for renewal in many ways. Whether we experience the Spirit in wind and fire, as the Apostles did; or in a quiet inner voice, we should be open to being changed. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people and kindle in them the fire of your love.”
One of the ways that love is being made manifest in the St. Cloud area is through the work of a network of agencies working together to provide housing and food for persons experiencing homelessness. Harry Fleegel of Homeless Helping Homeless (HHH) provides regular updates on their work. This is part of his report for the period from May 5-17:
“To provide 1,465 nights in motels takes great effort and a lot of money. In addition to the funds provided through the city allocating $24,000 per month of CDBG-CV funds for this purpose, numerous organizations and individuals have contributed both financially and in-kind to this effort. Bethlehem Lutheran has donated games, puzzles, potato chips, Kool-Aid, masks; and their quilters group donated $900. St. Paul’s Catholic Church has donated $100 as has First United Methodist in Sartell; and Atonement Lutheran has contributed $300. Cash donations from generous individuals amounted to $3,301 this past two weeks. The United Way awarded us a $5,000 grant.
“Where do we go from here? There are still 108 desperate persons on the waiting list who long to join the others in a safe hygienic place. We have about a dozen folks whose afflictions have prevented them from staying in the motels, and we need a place suitable for them. Kudos to the city council for supporting the River Heights project that will provide a place for adults experiencing homelessness. Having folks in the motels also provides service agencies the opportunity to inform folks of available resources and communicate by phone with those who seldom can.
“One thing that the pandemic has taught us is that we desperately need more affordable housing in St. Cloud. To have the number of families and young couples that cannot afford their own place pouring onto the streets in the middle of an epidemic is not acceptable We have proven to ourselves that we have the determination and ingenuity to address even the most serious of issues in an effective, and expedient way. We cut the red tape, rolled up our sleeves and tackled the challenge. When this virus dies down, let’s get to the root of this homeless problem and solve it. The rest of the country is waiting to learn from us. We can use a few more volunteers.
“The number of meals we are now delivering is too large for one team to handle, so we are building a second team. Donations can be sent to Homeless Helping Homeless, PO Box 475, Saint Cloud 56302 or contact us to make a delivery by calling 612-868-0465 or 320-309-2952 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: homelesshelpinghomeless.org
You are a blessing God has given us,
Harry, Mary, and Troy