The Palms’ shower ministry is named ‘FEET-N-MORE’

By Max Klinkenborg

A seven-member shower trailer committee has been meeting weekly for the last two months to establish protocols for use of the trailer, decide on the “wrapping” for the trailer, to pick a name for the shower ministry, and much more. The name comes from the Biblical story of Jesus taking on the role of a servant and washing the disciples feet. The Church of the Palms is offering a shower trailer to be used by the homeless and needy of the northwest valley, following the pattern of service of Jesus.

In partnership with city governments, churches and non-profit service providers, we will provide showers that preserve human dignity, contribute to health and prepare them for employment. We are currently working with the City of Surprise, the Salvation Army and are in communications with the cities of Peoria and El Mirage. We will be taking the trailer to sites in the NW Valley beginning in January. We will be approaching other NW Valley cities with the shower trailer in 2021, particularly as it becomes safer for guests and volunteers to be together.

“FEET-N-MORE” will be focused on offering showers, but we are inviting other service providers to be present with us when we are serving the homeless. Trevor’s Vision is preparing a haircutting trailer and they want to be with us when we offer showers. Chance Shelter provides for the pets of the homeless while they are showering. We hope to provide medical and dental services on occasion and to distribute food and clothes on an emergency basis. We will be inviting Social Service Agencies that are focused on helping the homeless to be present. It is only limited by our imagination.

We will be dedicating the shower trailer for ministry and commissioning our volunteers on Sunday, January 3rd, at 11:30 a.m. The service will be in the parking lot with the shower trailer in the background.

Volunteers to work with the shower trailer are always welcome. We will need three to four volunteers for 4-6 hours each time the trailer goes out. A variety of jobs need to be done each time and there will be training for your job. Contact the church office (623.977.8359) or Max Klinkenborg (816.377.4618) if you are interested.

The Shower Trailer is Here; Now What?

by Max Klinkenborg

The shower trailer arrived at Church of the Palms on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, after a 1,534-mile trip from Elkhart, Indiana, where it was manufactured. It came with a notebook full of instructions and manuals for the air conditioner, water heater, controls, etc. To provide the electrical power for the trailer, we have a 7,500-watt portable generator. We had it all operational by that Friday noon and were able to offer showers to three of our I-HELP guests that afternoon.

Seth Dyson, Director of Human Services and Community Vitality for the City of Surprise, invited community leaders from the NW Valley to a “show and tell” on Oct. 28 at COTP, to see the trailer and talk about how it can be used with the homeless population in their communities. Seth has been a supporter of I-HELP from the beginning and is now an advocate for our shower trailer.

We have been in conversations with Capt. Mark Merritt of the Salvation Army on Avenue of the Arts regarding the use of the shower trailer in partnership with their ongoing ministries to the homeless. We want to honor that partnership by making our trailer available there as one of our first locations for regular showers.

Through Seth, we have also had conversations with the City of Surprise regarding the use of the trailer. We have scouted some preliminary locations in Surprise that are easily accessible to the homeless. Again, with Seth’s assistance, the City of Surprise has offered us the opportunity to dump our holding tank into their sewage system. As far as community utilization, we will probably begin with Surprise, developing our protocols and contractual arrangements. Once again, we are partnering with others to meet needs. Beyond Surprise, we anticipate reaching out to other communities with the shower trailer for regularly scheduled times and/or special events.

As part of our ministry to the homeless, we want to provide toiletries, clean socks and underwear, and haircuts. We will invite other social-service providers to be present with medical and dental services, inoculations for COVID-19 and Influenza, etc. We do not know where this will lead us, but we want to be ready, creative and generous in what we do.

The shower trailer is here!

The Church of the Palms’ shower trailer was delivered on October 20!

Once it’s ready, we’ll invite their I-HELP guests to be the first to use it. In time we’ll use the shower trailer around the NW Valley, offering showers to the homeless on regular schedules.

The shower trailer has three private compartments, each containing a 32-inch-by-32-inch shower, a lavatory, and a bench. The trailer is air-conditioned and has an on-demand, liquid-propane water heater. A gasoline generator will provide the electricity, a water hose will provide the water, and a 300-gallon holding tank will contain the gray water from the showers. The trailer can provide 12 showers per hour.

In addition to servicing I-HELP host churches without showers, The Palms plans to contract with communities in the NW Valley to provide showers to the homeless, beginning with the city of Surprise and expanding to others as time and volunteers allow.

Shower Trailer Ministry Moves Forward

by Max Klinkenborg

It began with a need and a desire to help. In mid-2019, as Church of the Palms members planned for hosting the homeless at our church as part of the NW Valley I-HELP program, we realized that personal hygiene was a big need of our guests.

Cleanliness is a basic right of everyone; everyone deserves to feel their best. Being clean and feeling good about yourself is vital to a job interview, a key to getting out of homelessness. Poor hygiene is also a significant cause of health problems in people who experience homelessness. Cleanliness involves everything from clean clothes to toothpaste and, especially, a shower.

The Trustees at COTP hit the wall, pun intended, when we sought a place to build a shower within our facility. We knew that the majority of I-HELP host churches would not have showers, either.

Two things came together at this time that were more than just coincidence: a vision on the part of those ministering to the homeless to provide a shower trailer and a bequest given to the church designated for social ministries. The Board of Missions and Outreach was to be the steward of the bequest, making sure it was spent as designated. A presentation was made to the Board of Missions and Outreach before the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. On Aug. 10, the M&O Board met on Bridges and approved a $45,000 line of credit to purchase a shower trailer; the Church Council affirmed this action on Aug. 15. Three bids from three different manufacturers were discussed by a leadership committee, and an order to purchase was made on Aug. 17.

The shower trailer has three private compartments, each containing a 32-inch-by-32-inch shower, a lavatory and a bench. The trailer is air conditioned and has an on demand, liquid-propane water heater. A gasoline generator will provide the electricity, a water hose will provide the water, and a 300-gallon holding tank will contain the gray water from the showers. The trailer can provide 12 showers per hour.

In addition to servicing I-HELP host churches without showers, we plan to contract with communities in the NW Valley to provide showers to the homeless. We will begin with the city of Surprise and expand to others as time and volunteers allow.

We will begin to offer showers only when it is safe for our volunteers and the guests.

Seeking volunteers for potential shower trailer ministry

When homeless persons are asked what they need, they most often say: A shower. Cities all over the U.S. are finding creative ways to offer showers. In Mesa, Paz de Cristo rents a shower trailer each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., during which 60 people will take a shower.

As we continue our ministry to the NW Valley homeless, the Mission and Outreach Committee is exploring the use of a shower trailer, both with I-HELP churches, like The Palms who do not have showers, but also to surrounding communities with sizeable homeless populations.

To facilitate this ministry, we will need volunteers to take a shower trailer to a site, set it up for use and then service the trailer to prepare for its next use. Each trip demands 4-6 hours of time, a vehicle able to tow the trailer and familiarity with the use of the trailer.

If you are interested in such a ministry, contact Max Klinkenborg at 816.377.4618, John Durbin at 623.693.8866, or Suzanne Boisclair at 603.494.8242.

Interested volunteers will be a great encouragement to the Board of Mission and Outreach as they explore this new
ministry.

Being The Palms: Supporting the Homeless Among Us

From the Social Justice Action Team at The Church of the Palms UCC:

One of the positive things about being hunkered down in our homes during the COVID19 pandemic is that it provides opportunities to do something special for those who have it so much worse than we do. Take, for example, our growing homeless population. The Palms provides several programs for this growing population in Phoenix and communities in the Northwest Valley.

HART Pantry: Helping At Risk Teens. The HART Pantry provides weekend food bags to teens who do not have enough food when they are not in school. But the HART Pantry is so much more. It is a community outreach program which began in 2011 as a mission of faith-based organizations in Peoria. The HART Pantry also partners with Eve’s Place, a 501(c)(3) charity that helps victims of domestic abuse and teen violence in the West Valley. The HART Pantry also enjoys the support of individual community members and corporate partners. Church of the Palms members serve on the Board of Directors for HART Pantry and have played a significant role in the annual backpack and graduation gift card programs as well as with monthly food donations. Sadly, the number of teens needing support from the HART Pantry continues to grow, with consideration now being given to expand and serve those at the middle school level.

Children First Academy: Church of the Palms, through the Board of Mission and Outreach, has made contributions of books, electronic devices, and water to Children First Academy for several years. This academy is a charter school near downtown Phoenix which serves homeless elementary age school children in the region.

I-HELP: Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. I-HELP a program of Lutheran Social Services, is designed to help the growing numbers of working people who have lost access to affordable housing. The 90-day program helps the men and women in the program develop a life plan that restores them to permanent housing. They are assisted by a full-time case worker from LSS, to locate the resources needed and keep them on task for the 90 days or less. As a supporting church, The Palms provides housing, food, and laundry every Monday and Friday night to as many as 12 women and men in the program. The program is for adults over the age of 18, not for families with children. Five other churches in the Surprise, El Mirage and Sun City communities are also hosting churches The COTP Service Committee purchased sheets and prepared them to fit the sleeping mats and have provided additional support supplies for program participants. The program runs with volunteers: the costs of a host church includes food, toiletries, laundry soap and cash gifts designated for I-HELP. Volunteers also serve as overnight monitors, preparing meals, doing laundry, and providing transportation to and from the day programs. There is also additional cost to the Church for utilities and bus operations.

Shower Trailer Program: One of the most requested needs of the homeless population is the opportunity to take a shower. For general health and to be prepared for employment, job interviews, and/or social service agency interviews, a shower provides increased self-esteem and opportunity for success. With this in mind, the COTP Board of Mission and Outreach has explored the possibility of purchasing a shower trailer and recruiting individuals to carry out this ministry. The shower trailer operation would initially serve participants in the I-HELP program but would eventually serve nearby communities with a homeless population, including those in homeless camps near and around riverbeds and under bridges. Volunteers will transport the trailer to various locations on a predetermined schedule and conduct necessary maintenance and upkeep. The City of Surprise has been very supportive of this ministry.

FAITH Program: Financial Assistance Into Transitional Housing. This proposed program, which is still under construction and yet to be reviewed by the church council, would partner with Lutheran Social Services and include a source of funds to qualifying graduates of the Northwest I-HELP Program. I-HELP graduates need between $3,500 – $4,500 to cover first and last month’s rent, damage deposit, and utility deposits. This program would explore ways we could assist them with this need. This proposed FAITH program would be managed by church leadership. Our church council will need to review it all and vote on it before anything happens. Individuals wishing to support any of these programs through a donation of time, talent, and/or treasure are encouraged to contact one of the following: chair of the Board of Mission and Outreach (Suzanne Boisclair), chair of the I-HELP Team (Max Klinkenborg), or chair of the Social Justice Action Team (John Durbin).

I-HELP: Church of the Palms Provides Relief to the Homeless

Over a year ago our Social Justice Action Team was exploring ways to address the growing homeless population in our corner of Maricopa County. We learned of a program that was being used in Avondale and four of our members went to see the program in action at the First Baptist Church.

The program was I-HELP run by Lutheran Social Services and it was having success, twelve homeless people at a time. LSS provided the staff and resources for the program; churches provided housing and food for the guests for up to 90 days until they were settled in their own housing. It was not a short term solution, like a soup kitchen or a shelter, but an intentional effort, focused on adults who had lost their housing through some bad fortune and needed temporary help to get back on their feet.

With the blessing of the COTP staff and the church council, members of the Social Justice Action Team began conversations with LSS and the city of Surprise, offering to be a host church should an I-HELP program be developed in the North West Valley. LSS acquired the grant money needed to staff the program, other churches were recruited to host and the program was launched on Sunday, October 27, 2019.

A twenty member I-HELP Committee at COTP has been working for several months planning and preparing to host I-HELP every Monday evening beginning 10/28/’19. Many volunteers have already committed to drive the bus, provide food and stay overnight in addition to financial support.

Church of the Palms will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors who ‘need a hand up, not a hand out’. It will also be a blessing to our volunteers who show generosity and hospitality to our guests, a win-win endeavor.

The Palms is ready for the launch of I-HELP Northwest Valley

A 20-member I-HELP committee at Church of the Palms has been working hard for the last two months to get ready for the October launch of I-HELP Northwest Valley. I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program), a program of Lutheran Social Services, is designed to help the growing numbers of working people who have lost access to affordable housing.

The 90-day program helps the men and women in the program develop a life plan that restores them to permanent housing. They are assisted by a full-time caseworker from LSS, to locate the resources needed and keep them on task for the 90 days or less.

As a supporting church, COTP will be providing housing, food, showers, and laundry every Monday night to the 12 women and men in the program. The program is for adults over the age of 18, not for families with children. Five other churches in the Surprise, El Mirage and Sun City communities are also hosting churches.

The COTP committee, led by Max Klinkenborg, has Laurie Cathey as food coordinator, Vickie Ashenbrenner coordinating nighttime monitors and John Durbin as transportation coordinator. Sharon Astle is our secretary and Mike Astle is the treasurer. The Service Committee has purchased sheets and prepared them to fit our mats. The program runs with volunteers and there will be signup sheets in the narthex.

There is a cost to being a host church and we are trusting members and friends of COTP to help with in-kind gifts of food, toiletries, and laundry soap and cash gifts designated for I-HELP.

Letter of gratitude from HART Pantry

I wish to express my gratitude to your committee and your church for the 36 graduation gift cards you provided. They have been delivered to the schools and will be presented to the respective students at the time of their graduations.

Church of the Palms continues to step up and support our at-risk and homeless teens on a continuing basis, and I know from the school administrators that it is appreciated. As you know, we never know the names of our recipients, but they are made aware of who is helping them and they are grateful. Your desire to help HART Pantry is very important to us. We value your support of our mission to help homeless and at-risk teens in our local west valley high schools. Your donation is a major addition to our ability to keep providing extra student support to our kiddos.

We are aware that there are many good and responsible nonprofits in our community and we are humbled and blessed that you chose HART Pantry. Your continuing support of our youth is so important as they face the adult world; an education is necessary for them to prosper.

Thank you again; we are well aware that without the support of the Church of the Palms, our nonprofit would not function at the level we desire and need.

Sincerely,
Ruth H. Langford, Executive Director

HART Pantry

Homeless Ministry in Sun City and the West Valley

Most of us take a lot for granted, including a permanent address, a place to lay our head at night, a place we call home. But an increasing number of people are homeless across the United States, in Arizona, in Maricopa County and in our own communities. A recent newspaper article reported the number of homeless in Glendale doubled over the previous year and Surprise, that counted no homeless as recent as 2014, is identifying a homeless population, albeit small, but very visible and of concern to many residents.

What is the face of the homeless? From data gathered in January of 2017, single adults account for 72% of the homeless population; men make up 64% of that number. Families represent 27% of the population. In Maricopa County 35% of the homeless were over 45 years of age; 6% were over 62, up from 4% in 2015.

The Social Justice Action Team is seeking ways for our church to be a leader in addressing this growing concern in Sun City and the West Valley. Members of the committee have been in conversation with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, the sponsors of IHELP (Interfaith Housing Emergency Lodging Program). Team members have visited an active IHELP church and have shared information and a timeline with the Church Council.

IHELP is a working program that provides case management, life planning, finance counseling, job search and preparation, employment services, health care referrals, vital documentation assistance and enrollment in public benefits through LSS staff supervision and guidance. Individuals in the program have 90 days of shelter and meals at no charge. The goal of the program is to move persons from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Multiple churches provide places of shelter and a meal; a Lutheran Social Services case worker implements the IHELP program and provides the services.

At this point the SJAT has more questions than answers. As we continue to develop a plan of action and work in cooperation with other churches to address the needs of the homeless, be in prayer for the homeless and those who provide shelter/food to meet their daily needs. For more information on this project please contact: Max Klinkenborg maxklink@yahoo.com.