WE NEED YOU!!
Toward the end of this article is a brief description of Abraham’s Tent and our engagement with Abraham’s Tent, but before we (Laurel Laster and Doug Hawthorne—your faithful Abraham’s Tent coordinators) lose your attention we want to say: we need you, we need volunteers. This will be the third year we have partnered with Bethesda Luther Church (on Whitney Ave. in New Haven); this year the guests will be housed at Bethesda during “our” week, which is from the evening of Monday, Feb. 17, through the morning of Monday, Feb. 24.
Here are the ways you can help abrahamstent:
1) Volunteer to stay overnight one night at Bethesda. As you can imagine, this is the most difficult role to fill so please consider volunteering for this job if you can possibly make it work with your schedule. We can provide more details, but essentially what is needed are two volunteers each evening (one of whom must be a man), at least one of the two must be awake at all times (i.e., the volunteers each lose about a half night’s sleep).
2) Supply a portion or all of an evening meal during the week. This is a great opportunity for the cooks in our midst to link up with others to provide a simple meal.
3) Make a financial contribution to help cover the cost of food (snacks, breakfast items) and other incidental costs associated with hosting the men for a week.
4) Sign up to act as a “host” one evening. Hosts simply make themselves available during and after dinner to chat, play games, watch television, or engage with the guests in whatever ways seem to be helpful.
If you can help with any of these tasks during the week (2/17-2/23), please contact either Doug Hawthorne (203-907-8440) or Laurel Laster (203-605-8454).
Now a bit about Abraham’s Tent and our history with the program. For more than ten years Spring Glen Church as well as Church of the Redeemer before closing have participated in Abraham’s Tent—a program organized by Columbus House to provide shelter to a dozen homeless men during the coldest months (December through March). Both Spring Glen and Redeemer were among the churches that participated during the inaugural year of Abraham’s Tent. That initial group of churches and synagogues has grown to over 21 houses of worship that each host one week of Abraham’s Tent, either individually or in partnership with another church/synagogue, The guests arrive at the host church around 6pm, have dinner, and spend the night sleeping on cots provided by Columbus House; they are picked up by Columbus House drivers around 7am in the morning after eating a simple breakfast.
While Abraham’s Tent does provide a place to spend the night for a dozen men during the time of year when there is the greatest pressure on the existing shelters, the program does so much more. For the men to whom shelter is provided it is, literally, transformational. Repeatedly over the years the men have told us how inspired they have been by the caring and the friendship we and the other congregations have shown. Amazingly almost all the participants have been able to secure permanent housing within a few months of the end of Abraham’s Tent. But it is equally transforming for those of us who engage with these men who are our guests. We learn that these men who much of society simply labels as homeless are, in fact, interesting, talented individuals who want nothing more than a little help getting back on their feet. And we have fun working with each other, with our friends at Bethesda Lutheran, and with the Abraham’s Tent guests.