“Seeking God’s guidance and believing that we are all members of one family, the mission of Bethesda Project is to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none.”
This is not only Bethesda Project’s mission statement. It could be the mission statement for anyone who comes to interact with the men of Old First’s shelter is embodying. Bethesda puts particular emphasis on human relationships and putting each guests dignity and self worth at the forefront of these relationships. Old First means for our shelter to be a particular experience of “sacred community,” that helps, embraces and changes the men in the shelter and the people who volunteer there.
As you may have noticed our annual Winter Homeless Shelter is in full swing. But for many of our folks, it is also easy to miss, since the shelter is “in residence” hours when many of us aren’t around church. But it’s important that we know about it, take some pride in our church’s ministry, keep the effort and the men who call it home in our prayers.
The shelter is open from November 1st until April 30th. We host 30 of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable homeless gentleman.
The work is extremely important because the individuals that stay in our shelter would not do well in mainstream emergency shelters. This is because in large shelters, it is easy for vulnerable gentleman to become overwhelmed, alienated and lost as just a number. But at Old First, the size of the community is smaller, with a better ratio of residents to supervisor. There’s also all the love and attention of the volunteers coming in to cook dinner many nights a week.
Therefore, we create, at Old First, a community where these gentlemen can thrive. The Wellspring Coordinator insures that there are several groups a week to come and prepare a meal of the guys. The Bethesda staff know each guest by name, and we ask that volunteers who come to serve the meal stay and share the meal with the gentlemen. This contributes to the community feeling and builds up the guests self worth.
If you have any further questions about the shelter feel free to contact either of our YASC community ministers for whom its a primary part of their jobs right now:
Julie Brentzel who is working with Bethesda Project, and Kayla Feiffer, whose assignment is with our own Outreach Ministries. (You can also speak to Kayla, if you would like to get involved by making and serving a meal).
YASC Community Minister