Who starts a new ministry right in the middle of a pandemic?

“Who starts a new ministry right in the middle of a pandemic?” That was Pastor Jim’s question/statement to us at the shower trailer dedication. The answer is, “We do!”
 
We are called to be about ministry despite the pandemic, right in the middle of pandemic, because of the pandemic. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, we are called. Listening to the challenge of MLK, Jr., when he advised stepping out in the future even when we can’t see the whole staircase, we have stepped out in faith.
 
I am so proud of you, church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, you have inspired me.
 
No matter how we gather in 2021 – in-person, over the Bridges platform, or on the streets helping others, I’m glad to be journeying with you.
 
Shalom, Paul

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).