Shelters at Cathedral and St. Andrew's seek volunteers

From Craig Updegrove
St. Andrew's, Allentown/Bethlehem
Jan. 20, 2012

For the fourth straight year, Bethlehem area places of worship including a couple Episcopal churches (Cathedral Church of the Nativity and St. Andrew's) are sheltering the area homeless at night. This winter season, the mission started in the beginning of December and runs until the end of March.This week we have seen a large increase of new guests. Last night we housed 34 people! If previous years were any indication, as the winter progresses, these numbers will continue to grow. Through the New Hope campaign funding, we have been able to hire 2 part time coordinators to help coordinate each site. However, many of these sites could use additional help.

Each site, at a minimum, require the following for each night they house the homeless:
Cooks and or servers- Each site will feed dinner to about 15-30 people (this includes volunteers). Usually a site will have at least two people cook and serve. Also, each site/volunteers will supply the dinner, drinks, dessert, and paper products for each meal.
Overnight volunteers- 2-3 volunteers at each site spend the night at the place of worship  to oversee everything. Additional cooks/ servers- Each site serves breakfast. Some just serve cold cereal, while others provide a hot breakfast. Again this usually takes about two people.

Many of these  places of worship  have additional volunteers that will come and socialize with the guests. Also, some sites have volunteers to come in and clean-up in the morning. In addition to volunteers at the churches, we also transport to some sites. A handful of the places of worship  that shelter are not within walking distance to the Southside (where the homeless are during the day). We try to have 2-3 drivers in the evenings and 2-3 drivers in the mornings to transport the homeless to and fro the places of worship .

I encourage you to help at least once during this season. This is a transformational mission that has affected me more than you can imagine. It will do the same for you. Please take this opportunity to help the homeless. Please discern this email while you are eating a hearty soup or snuggled up in your warm bed and imagine not having it. At the very least, as a Christian, isn't this what we are called to do? Help the people that can't help themselves.

If you would like to volunteer, I've attached a flyer with schedule and contact information. Also the following link will allow you to sign-up to drive the homeless:

Sign up genius for transportation volunteers

Please feel to contact Brian Gordon from Nativity @ cell 610-463-5988 if you would like to drive.

If you have any additional questions about the mission, please feel free to call me at 484-892-1589.

Craig Updegrove

Bakery mailing list
[email protected]

Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering System needs volunteers

[From Craig Updegrove]

This winter's ecumenical emergency homeless shelter effort in Bethlehem will start tonight and will run until April 1.  About half of the churches who are shelter sites are outside of walking distance for the homeless to get to, so volunteers are needed to help transport the homeless guests to (in the evening) and from (in the morning) the shelter sites.  This need has created over 500 volunteer opportunities to drive over the 17 weeks the shelters are open.  The following website link has been built to help organize the driving volunteers and to explain the volunteer opportunity in more detail.

Any questions, please contact Brian Gordon at 610-463-5988 or [email protected]
We also have volunteer opportunities available at all of the churches. If you have a night or two that you would like to help, we have many opportunities available. Each night/morning we need volunteers to cook dinner, serve dinner, stay overnight, cook breakfast, and clean-up. I’ve attached a list of all the churches that are participating. The list has the contact numbers so that you can reach the churches directly.

Download the list in a .pdf here.
Download 111208 Client Emergency Shelter Contact _list 12-1-11
Craig J Updegrove

Six chronically homeless persons will live next to Grace Episcopal Church in Allentown

By Libby House and Bill Lewellis

Grace House2 On April 20, Grace House at 112 North Fifth Street, Allentown, a newly renovated three-story brick and stucco property next to Grace Episcopal Church, will welcome its first homeless residents.

The creation and development of a group home to provide permanent housing in apartments for six chronically homeless persons began a few years ago with a conversation between Robert Wilkins, president of the board of New Bethany Ministries from 1998 to 2010, and Elizabeth House, senior warden of Grace Church.

It was the brain child of Wilkins, House, William Kuntze, former executive director of New Bethany and Patrick Malloy,  former rector of Grace Episcopal Church. Their initiative received enthusiastic moral support as well as financial commitment from Bethlehem Diocese Bishop Paul V. Marshall.

Grace House Funding for Grace House came from a wide variety of sources. Grace Church donated to New Bethany Ministries half the value of the property which for nearly 15 years had served as the church's headquarters for its former AiDS Outreach Ministry that closed in December 2007 when federal and state funding dried up. The $500,000 costs for renovating the facility were paid for by a $250,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank, Pittsburgh, through KNBT grants from Lehigh County and the City of Allentown, and additional money generously provided by Episcopal Ministries of the Diocese of Bethlehem, the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Senator Pat Brown, Representative Jennifer Mann, The Century Fund, and individual donors.

The new group home will become part of the City of Allentown's First Lady's Commission to End Chronic Homelessness in 10 years. The six individuals who will gain the safety and stability of a permanent residence through this project represent 10 percent of those described as chronically homeless in Allentown in 2010.

Grace House will be a joint project of New Bethany Ministries of Bethlehem, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem and community operated, and Grace Allentown, a parish of the Diocese of Bethlehem. The facility's location in downtown Allentown will allow New Bethany Ministries, which has been working to address the needs of homeless people and others on the margins of our society, primarily in Bethlehem, for 25 years, to expand its outreach. it will also allow the Grace Church community to continue to develop and increase its mission and ministry to the people of the inner city neighborhoods of Allentown, where it already provides strategic services to the poor.

in addition to New Bethany and Grace Church, the Lehigh County Conference of Churches will play a crucial role in supporting and supervising the residents who will live in the facility by providing rent subsidies and social services. The organization will select the individuals who are to live in the group home and will assign a caseworker to help see that those living in Grace House will have the assistance they need to help them become independently functioning and contributing members of the community. They will assist with access to public benefit funding, subsidized meals, clothing services, referrals for medical and mental health treatment, and job skills training.
Grace Episcopal Church houses several ministries that will also provide additional support for the group home residents, such as supplemental groceries through its food pantry, Grace Community Foundation which provides supplemental food in a respectful manner to some 6,000 ethnically, religiously and racially diverse persons in need every year; access to a job placement counselor through the City's Weed and Seed Program; a GED program for those who dropped out of school who wish to work to earn their diplomas; the iMPACT juvenile offender program; services from paralegals from North Penn Legal Services; and blood pressure screenings. The church hopes that the tenants may wish to become part of the Grace Church community and will benefit from the possibilities that can be derived from relationships offered there.

Once described at a national conference because of its outreach ministries as the largest small church in the United States, Grace Church also owns Grace Montessori School, which provides scholarships to one-third of its diverse student body of more than 100 in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility.
Episcopal Ministries of the Diocese of Bethlehem, Inc., dba New Bethany Ministries, is an agency of the Diocese of Bethlehem and as such is a church-sponsored, non-profit corporation whose purpose is to organize and operate housing and social ministries with related services in the geographic area of the Diocese of Bethlehem for the care and relief of the needy, poor, displaced and other distressed persons.
With its long history and experience in battling homelessness, New Bethany Ministries brings compassion and expertise to the Grace House initiative at a level that cannot be overstated. This ministry of The Episcopal Church summons the talents of approximately 20 employees and 600 volunteers to serve the needs of the homeless, the hungry, the mentally ill, and the poor. In addition to managing its many shelters, homes, and apartments and providing much needed social services, the agency also serves breakfast and lunch daily in its hospitality center in South Bethlehem and offers emergency food pantry services. it is hoped that the unique combination of experience, expertise, services, proximity, and common mission of these three social justice power houses, New Bethany Ministries, Grace Church, and LCCC, will serve as a model for faith-based groups wishing to work together to address the problems of the most desperate of individuals living in our society, making a permanent difference in their lives that will restore them to dignity and independence.

New Bethany's 25-year history has included one deep valley. It was buried in debt in 1998. Low morale had spread through the staff as its executive director and two executive board members resigned. The staff had to be cut from 16 to 10. The organization was close to going out of business. That’s when Wilkins, retired senior vice president of finance for Bethlehem Steel and former Bethlehem city administrator took a leave of absence from his business to serve as interim executive director during New Bethany’s crisis when the ministry was having a hard time finding the $1,000 a day in donations (half the budget) it takes to operate its shelters, subsidized housing and meal programs. That's when the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, New Bethany’s 1983 founder, stepped in.

The Diocese of Bethlehem provided New Bethany the security for a loan and lent the charity $200,000 without interest. Bishop Paul Marshall convened a “Blue Ribbon” panel of leaders in business, social service, church and philanthropic fields to explore the problems and challenges facing New Bethany. The panel met during the last quarter of 1998 and offered a series of recommendations to the New Bethany board. By 2001, the charity cut its annual spending plan by $100,000. It got back up to a full staff of 16. It began offering just as many services as before its financial fall.

[Mrs. Elizabeth "Libby" House is senior warden of Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, and director of the Grace Montessori School. Canon Bill Lewellis, now retired, served for nearly 25 years as communication minister for the Diocese of Bethlehem.]

Download: (1) An outline of the origin of New Bethany Ministries, by Bill Lewellis, (2) New Bethany's Two-Year Recovery, by Bill Lewellis, Diocesan Life, Dec. 2001, (3) Remarks by Beth Reed at Grace House open house, 4/7/11.

Download NBM.Outline of Origins

Download NBM’s Two-Year Recovery.Lewellis

Download NBM.GraceHouse.Holy Ground


Temporary shelter for the homeless in Bethlehem churches

To: Lehigh Valley Episcopal Churches
From: Craig Updegrove, St. Andrew's

As you may be aware, several years ago, Bethlehem Area Churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This letter is to make you aware that this system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31.

Every night, a host site or two will provide this mission service to the homeless. We not only provide shelter, but we also give them a warm dinner, companionship, play games with them, and watch movies with them. This mission has transformed each congregation and person involved.

To help continue this mission, I ask for your help. On average, a church needs around eight volunteers each night to execute this mission effectively. This puts a lot of volunteer strain on each congregation. I would like to ask if anyone from your congregation would like to assist any of these churches. Volunteer hours are readily available.

Volunteer opportunities vary. We have people that will just cook the meal, serve the meal, stay overnight, serve breakfast, cleanup in the morning, or just sit and talk to our guests. This is truly a transformational mission and is needed by you to help in Bethlehem.

If you would like to help in other ways, you could donate personal care items, clothing, food, or cash donations to help these congregations to defray some of these costs.

If you or anyone in your congregation are interested in volunteering, please contact Craig Updegrove at 484-892-1589 for more details.

On a related matter, see Community must respond to deaths of homeless, an op-ed in The Morning Call, December 17, by Gary Millspaugh, executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.

Background on the ministry of Bethlehem churches to the homeless:
Jan. 13-19: Still no room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 19: Lehigh Valley Episcopal churches help homeless during cold snap
Feb. 5: Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem

Jan. 13: Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold
March 9: Express-Times editorial

The newSpin blog has a search box that many might find useful. Scroll down on the left.

Emergency Shelter Coordinator sought

[From Scott Allen]

I just received this notice from The Bethlehem Hospitality Network which houses the homeless during the cold winter months Dec.-March in parish halls and is an ecumenical response to homeless in the Lehigh Valley.  7+ congregations open their doors each week to house the homeless in the parish halls of their churches. Ecumenical  in nature,  the Network represents Episcopal, Moravian, Lutheran, UCC, Unitarian and Independant congregations.   A coordinator is needed to help facilitate this effort.  Through generous grants from the Bethlehem Area Moravians and The New Hope Campaign we have the funds to hire a part time coordinator for this sheltering season. The Ministry Description is posted below with application procedures.  Please let anyone in your congregations know of this part-time employment opportunity.
Scott Allen
St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem
General Job Description: Under the direction of the Steering Committee for the Emergency Shelter, the Emergency Shelter Coordinator is responsible for facilitating the overall daily functioning and communication of the program. 

Major Job Duties:
•Coordinate resources across sites, i.e., sleeping bags, etc.
•Create a list of facilities, locations, times facilities open and close doors
•Help Site Coordinators manage volunteers
•Become a familiar presence at each site
•Facilitate communications between sites
    •All information pertaining to the Emergency Shelter program   •Issues regarding shelter guests   •Communicate issues of program suitability with shelter guests   •Enforce decisions made by steering committee   •Keep a log of issues from each site   •Coordinate facilities during snow emergencies   •Attend monthly mandatory shelter staff meetings and communicate with the Steering Committee about the activities and needs of the shelters
•Oversee working committees
•Create list of emergency contacts
•If necessary, coordinate transportation of clients to sites

•Knowledge of issues relating to homelessness
•Prefer 2 years experience in social services, with preference given to volunteer management experience
•Excellent written & oral communication skills
•Ability to make quick, difficult decisions
•Ability to multi-task
•Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
•Positive attitude, compassionate
•Ability to both take direction and to work autonomously when necessary
•The ability to respond to requests for information via phone, mail, and e-mail
•Ability and willingness to work as a team member and support the mission and goals of the Emergency Shelter Steering Committee
•Must be at least 21 years of age

Other: Work out of home.  Cell phone and travel expenses included in salary.  This position requires the candidate to file a 1099 and pay your own taxes.

Hours: 20-30 hours per week, beginning December 1, 2010 and lasting through April 7, 2011. Hours will be flexible based on needs of volunteers.

Compensation: Contracted Hourly Rate $25/hour

If this job is of interest to you, please email your resume to Terri Boyd @ [email protected]