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.
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.
Ruth H. Langford, Executive Director
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 email@example.com.