Street Outreach Ministry, what does that phrase mean?
What does that phrase mean to you?
What does it mean to Our Father’s Table - OFT?
It means “giving a hand up, not a hand out.” What’s the old adage? Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch a fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” That is what the OFT Street Outreach Ministry is all about.
To us, it means that our Street Outreach Ministry Angels (volunteers) do everything possible to let our homeless brothers and sisters know they are not alone. We are here…we see them…we hear them…they are our friends…we will never give up on them…they are worthy…they matter… they are valid…we have their back…we are their voice when they are not heard...we love them, and they are loved by God.
We will not enable them or their lifestyle, but we are the voice of their reality. We are the mirror for their soul. We will not tell them what they should be doing, but show them by example how we live our life.
We will not tolerate phone calls when they are drunk (call me when you are sober). We teach them to respect our healthy boundaries as we respect where they are in life. We expect honesty, because we only give honesty. We hold them accountable for who they are, where they are, and why they are homeless. Being homeless is a choice they have made, not something that was done to them. There are no “victims” here.
It all boils down to this - being their family, friend, and support system. When everyone else has turned their back, OFT is there and will always be there, 24/7/365. We talk to their dignity, we are equals. We are all children of God. This is the truest definition of friendship, a path Christ laid out for us in the Gospel.
For the “Street Angels”, it translates into a day to day connection, the same you have with your family and friends. We see them in the morning when they wake. We share our day ahead, changes we want to make, our family and friends, regrets we have, and hope for a better life. We leave with “God bless you my friend” and “If you need anything let me know, I have your back!”
The start of asking for OFT help is “Hey I lost my ID, can you help me replace it?” For many of our homeless brothers and sisters, removing this barrier can be the beginning of ending their homelessness and this is how we do it:
That’s the start...and it turns to “I need to get into rehab. I want to get off the streets!” OFT walks this path with them, making phone calls, going to assessments, and checking into detox, rehab, and doctor appointments, all the while doing it together! They call us scared and filled with anxiety and we fill them with words of encouragement.
The blessing that comes is the phone call that he is moving into his own apartment after 15 years of being homeless and 8 months in transitional housing. We talk on the phone and we can hear the excitement is in his voice. It’s contagious! He is telling me about new sheets he has on his bed, something we may take for granted. He ends with saying, “I never thought I would have my own place again. Thank you for never giving up on me!”
So that is how we do what we do…we teach them how to fish, so they are no longer hungry.
Go out of your way today, reach out, and say THANK YOU to someone in need. Be grateful for all you have and remember to share your bounty with others today, tomorrow, and always.
HomeAid has been ending homelessness with Our Father’s Table since 2014, through HomeAid’s Community Outreach activities.