In September, Emmanuel Ministry’s lunch for our Center City friends who are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity increased to every Saturday. This transition to a weekly communal meal immediately strengthened our relationship with our guests. People now trust that every Saturday they can come into a safe place, out of the elements, and eat a home-cooked meal, experience the presence of God and human relationships, hear a Scripture reflection, and watch a movie together.
We are also excited to announce a further partnership with an organization that shares many of our core values – Bethesda Project. This homeless services organization’s mission is to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none. In response to our request to partner further, Bethesda Project is sending its Director of Entry Level Programs, Misty Sparks, to Emmanuel on a regular basis. At the Saturday lunch, she is beginning to assess the needs of our guests.
In working with Misty, we have learned more about the scope of people experiencing homelessness in Center City. There are more than 750 people experiencing chronic street homelessness and 3,500 living in shelters on a nightly basis. To us, that means there is an immense and immediate need for homeless services in this city.
Bethesda Project completed an assessment of the people who attend Emmanuel every week. It concluded that 25 percent of our guests have housing, but are food insecure. Another 10 percent reside in some form of shelter on a nightly basis. However, roughly 65 percent of our guests sleep primarily on the streets of Center City.
Since coming to Emmanuel for a little over a month, they have also been able to get 12 of our guests off the streets and into their Church Shelter Program. It has also been able to place three guests into their safe haven – My Brother’s House. This incredible progress in such a short time only strengthens our belief that Emmanuel Ministry, partnering with both Liberti Church and the Bethesda Project, can increase our efforts to serve, love, and assist people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity in Center City Philadelphia.
But why reach out to you? Because we cannot do it alone. Emmanuel cannot function without the people who are willing to spend their valuable time volunteering on a Saturday morning. We have a great group in place right now, but we definitely need more help! If you are interested in signing up for a Saturday contact Vito, or for our special Thanksgiving Breakfast, click here!