I-HELP Needs Overnight Volunteer Monitors

Are you a night owl or a morning dove? Here is an Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP) late-night or early-morning volunteer opportunity for you: I-HELP needs overnight monitors.

Volunteer time-slots are 10:00 p.m.-3:00 a.m. or 3:00-7:00 am. The I-HELP guests are usually weary and sleep soundly during these hours. Usually, there are 12 guests. There are 2 monitors for each shift.

Worried about COVID? We are limited to 7 guests during this time. All I-HELP participants have tested negative for COVID to enter the 90-day program, are retested when needed, and they are temperature screened when they enter COTP. There is almost no interaction with the guests between 10:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

You must obtain a State of Arizona Level One Fingerprint Clearance card, which requires a bit of paperwork. Registration is easy, and the $65 cost will be paid by COTP. I-HELP has just celebrated its first year. Over 25 people have found housing. You can help make a difference in the lives of others in Year 2.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Nancy Mueller or Vickie Ashenbrenner.

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.

Thanksgiving: Not Just a Meal

As was announced earlier, it has been decided for safety reasons that The Church of the Palms will not serve a meal this year for Thanksgiving. However, we do feel that some of the goals of the activity can still be met.

The goals of The Annual Joyce Spaulding Memorial Thanksgiving Feast:
• Opportunity for ministry
• Provide extravagant welcome
• Remember Joyce and Roy Spaulding
• Have fun

As an opportunity for ministry, we are asking those who are able to consider donating what they would have spent on their Thanksgiving dinner food donation to the church. In turn, the church will give that money to church ministries that feed people. This would include feeding the homeless in our part of the I-Help program and to the HART Pantry which, among other things, feeds at-risk teens.

To make it fun, we will track the donations on a board that represents King Hall. We have calculated that our normal dinner costs about four dollars per person. For each four dollars we receive, we will put a token on the board to represent a diner. Our goal is to fill our imaginary King Hall with imaginary diners. The wonderful part comes later when actual people are fed with these donations.

Though this is not the same as gathering together and enjoying a meal of Thanksgiving, those of us who are able can have the opportunity to give thanks for our blessings by sharing with others. I cannot think of anything that would please the Spauldings more than knowing that hungry people are being fed. Bless you all as we enter the holiday season.

–Wendy Whitlock

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.

Social Justice Action Team: October update

Creation Justice

Mission statement:  

To embody our faith in our relationships with God’s creation

Goals:

  • To educate and encourage congregational members to take concrete actions that express their stewardship of creation
  • To strive for significant reductions in the church’s energy and water consumption and waste in order to offset our carbon footprint
  • To advocate for policy change that will slow climate change and mitigate its impacts

Homeless

I-HELP AT COTP

One Year Anniversary.  We first hosted I-HELP guest on October 28-29, 2019 on a Monday night.  Within a few months we committed to a second night each week to provide the full 7 nights of coverage for our guests that we wanted.  Since then we have held forth on Monday and Friday nights, asking our volunteers to step up their involvement. We have over 55 volunteers working with the program, including bus drivers, cooks, shoppers, monitors and laundry.  Each time we host, our volunteers give 45-55 hours of time for 100 hours each week.  What a tremendous gift in service to others. The ultimate measure of success is the number of guests that have found permanent housing.  This is the work of the LSS staff and we celebrate the 24 guests that are now housed.  This represents about half of the people that have been enrolled in the program.  Despite the Covid 19 virus and the fact that our churches were closed we were able to provide full coverage for our guests, 7 nights each and every week.  Testing each guest before enrolled, with disinfecting protocol in place, practicing social distancing and taking the temperature of volunteers and guests each time, we have been able to minimize the risk of infection. We have made our program more green by using plates, bowls and glasses that we run through the dishwasher and cloth napkins and rags that we wash with bedding in our washer/dryer.

I-HELP Guests First to use Shower Trailer.  The new shower trailer of COTP will be here by mid-October, and once ready we will invite our I-HELP guest to be the first to use it.  In time we plan to use the shower trailer around the NW Valley, offering showers to the homeless on regular schedules.

Palestinian-Israeli Issue

Beth Moore provided an update on what is happening with the Nassar’s farm. The last month has been very difficult with vandals damaging the property, a neighboring group calling for re-registration of the land and the ongoing court case related to land ownership. Ongoing prayers and support are needed.

Antiracism

The Social Justice Action Team adopted the action items recently approved by the Southwest Conference:

Church of the Palms Awakening to Racial Injustice Action Steps
Learning with White friends and family about White privilege, White fragility, and White supremacy,
Regularly reading books, watching performing arts events, and drawing on theological resources featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to deepen understanding and appreciation of the history, contributions, and culture of these groups of people.
Learning with our children through children’s stories about racism in age-appropriate ways,
Centering the stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and their rich and diverse heritage in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas,
Forming partnerships with congregations of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,
Learning about and supporting organizations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas that make it a mission to be Interrupters, [1]
Speaking up whenever you hear a comment or joke that marginalizes Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,
Writing op-eds or letters to the editor about issues of bigotry, White supremacy, or racism in your communities,
Making a public witness like putting a Black Lives Matter sign at your church or on your lawn and prepare yourselves to welcome Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who may come to our churches, and for conversations with people who demonstrate White fragility because you take this step.
Inviting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color into leadership roles and explore governance structures that reflect their experience.
Asking Black, Indigenous, and People of Color what their needs are.
Assessing your congregation’s racial diversity, equity and inclusion. Participate in the UCC’s racial diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment of the National setting of the United Church of Christ.
Including elements in worship services that reflect the needs and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color present in your congregation and in your community
Using your money to support businesses and ministries of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color,
Inviting a Sacred Conversations to End Racism facilitator of the Southwest Conference to present a program in your congregation. The program could include many options from a selected movie with reflection to a programmed discussion or guest sermon.  

Criminal Justice Reform

Prosecutors have a significant role in Criminal Justice Reform.  They can decide whether or not to prosecute minor offenses or possibly send the accused to a diversion program, especially for people with substance abuse issues.  We have an opportunity to watch interviews with the candidates for Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the third largest such office in the US!  You can view the interviews at:

Julie Gunnigle at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_UaG0jmfE

 Allister Adel at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2Kt4n5Jux0

Criminal Justice Reform Presentation from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

Each year the cathedral chooses a theme for inspiration. In 2020 our theme is bridges. We are challenging ourselves to explore and reflect upon reconciliation in this very divisive time in our country.  Join us to hear from San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young, will talk about his work building bridges that promote justice and safety in our community.  About the guest  Chesa Boudin is the recently elected District Attorney of San Francisco. Personally, impacted by parental incarceration and the failings of the criminal justice system, DA Boudin was inspired to become a public defender, and now, decarceral prosecutor. He is focused on reforming the criminal justice system and making our communities safer by developing data-driven policies to expand alternatives to incarceration and treat the root causes of crime. In his first few months in office, DA Boudin ended the office’s practice of asking for cash bail, eliminated status enhancements, implemented California’s first diversion program for primary caregivers, and ended the prosecution of charges resulting from racist pre-textual traffic stops. He has also implemented numerous police reforms, started an innovative Economic Crimes Against Workers Unit to protect workers from exploitation, and has succeeded in reducing the jail population in San Francisco even as crime rates declined. He remains committed to additional reforms that promote justice and protect public safety.  Check out DA Boudin’s podcast, Chasing Justice: https://www.chasingjusticepodcast.com/


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.

I-HELP Needs Your Help This Summer

The Church of the Palms has been hosting I-HELP for more than six months, and we have seen 12 of our guests acquire housing. Since the lockdown, we have had seven guests in the program. Each new guest is tested for COVID-19, and we have an extensive protocol of taking temperatures, social distancing, wearing masks, hand washing and wiping down all surfaces before and after we host. This will be our first summer (June, July, August) hosting the program, and we need your help in the following areas:

  • Meals: We need evening meals prepared — as well as breakfast and lunch the following day — by three different volunteers. Laurie Cathey (623-238-3826) is our coordinator for food. You can bring the food to the church after 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays that we host. You are always welcome to serve and eat with the guests, but it’s not required.
  • Monitors: We also need monitors to stay with our guests. We have two shifts:10 p.m. to 3 a.m. and 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. We need two monitors for each shift; new monitors will be paired with an experienced monitor. Vickie Ashenbrenner (831-233-2548) is our monitor coordinator.
  • Laundry: After each night of hosting, we have sheets and pillowcases that need to be laundered before the next time we host. If you are interested in helping with laundry, you can do it at the church with our washer and dryer or take it home to do. Laundry is available on Tuesday and Saturday mornings after we host. Contact Max Klinkenborg (816-377-4618) if interested in helping.

I-HELP continues to meet the needs of the homeless in the Northwest Valley. Through the generosity of four other churches, we are providing seven nights of lodging and a place to be during the day to keep our guests safe. During these challenging times, the program is needed more than ever. Thanks for your prayers and support.

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).