It’s a tough time of year to experience homelessness

“Who to Call” is a warning posted online and spread through the media to warn those people who are homeless in the state of Minnesota. Volunteers then go out at night to check on these individuals and, yes, families not placed in a shelter. This warning is provided by the Minnesota Coalition for Homelessness.

I again as a board member of Great River Family Promise of Elk River challenge the kind hearts of the people of our surrounding communities to understanding that there are homeless families in our own backyards. If you go to a gas station at night carefully look around, do you see a family trying to survive the cold by turning their car on and off to provide heat?

Ask the attendants if they are aware of families coming in to warm up, use the bathrooms or buy something to eat. I am getting older and find myself needing to set the furnace at a higher setting. Just imagine what it would be like. I wonder what we would say sitting in a cold church for even an hour or so to worship?

While Great River Family Promise of Elk River has reached two of the three goals set to reopen for churches to house and support our guest families, one goal has not been met. In order for GRFP to open, several more churches are needed to open their doors and serve those in need.

Once again this program is a hand up and not a hand out. The fact that 90 percent of those served, by following the intense program guidelines, achieve their own housing is a true blessing and measurement of success.

Of course continued financial and volunteer support is always needed. However, the needed goal right now is for those who are members of one of the greater area churches to step up and open their doors and hearts. Forgive me for using a “four-letter word,” but pray about what you and your church might be called to do.

The board members had a potluck last Thursday and spent about five hours working on this issue. The National Director of Family Promise, with which we are affiliated, offered this true story. Please do a gut and heart check after reading the following: When the speaker was working at the district level years ago recruiting churches, one church agreed to a one-time trial period. The names of the family they hosted were Joseph and Mary and, yes, she was with child. This church understood their call and continues to take their turn hosting those in need even today.

With respect and humbleness. — Richard George, Elk River (Editor’s note: Richard George is a board member of Great River Family Promise. Its mission is to build partnerships throughout our communities in support of children and families.)