We received an update from the Bethesda Project, St. Mary’s Chapel about their shelter program and the ways that Old First is assisting them:
“In May, Bethesda Project’s winter shelter at Old First Reformed closed for the season and guests transferred to the summer shelter at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in South Philadelphia. Several guests who had stayed at Old First during the winter immediately noticed the difference between the two sites. St. Mary’s does not currently have a congregation or a working kitchen, meaning there are only rare opportunities for community meals. Although guests have a coffeepot and a microwave for personal use, there is not the fellowship or the warmth we experienced during shared dinners with volunteers at Old First. Guests who can’t afford to purchase meals, or who aren’t able to attend free community meals, arrive at St. Mary’s hungry and go to sleep hungry.
When we mentioned this situation to Alesha, the Outreach Coordinator for Old First, she worked wonders. She arranged for service groups visiting Old First to prepare dinner for the guests at St. Mary’s and join them for fellowship. The guests have been elated to experience a break from routine shelter life by sharing time with volunteers. When they hear that Old First and Outreach’s Service Camp groups have been stepping in to support them, the response is always a smile. Old First has earned a reputation in the homeless community as a place that cares and doesn’t forget about the people it serves. Thank you for reminding our guests that you have them in mind, whatever the season!”