Blackstone Valley Emergency Shelter – March Update
By Leslie Reichert
I recently told the church congregation that being a part of the Blackstone Valley Emergency Shelter feels a lot like the song by Carry Underwood, called “Jesus Take the Wheel.” But instead of me crying out for Jesus to come and take the wheel, He popped into the driver’s seat and threw me in the back to watch. So many wonderful things are happening with His shelter. Things that I never imagined could happen. I’d like to share a few of them with you.
Last Friday night our Ladies Book Club met and Laurie Sabourin shared an “ah ha” moment with us. Peace of Bread has always held Matthew 24:34 as their mission statement. But recently as she read further into the scripture, we found that God has always had this plan for us.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 24:34-40)
“For the least of this…” Those were the words I shared with you months ago. Those were the words that I heard as I drove up Hill Street while arguing with God about how I didn’t have the time or ability to start an Emergency Shelter. But, as Laurie read through the passage, we all realized that this emergency shelter was the next step God wanted us to take after Peace of Bread.
And now that we’ve taken the steps to get it ready, things are happening at an unbelievable pace. Here are just a few of the things that we have watched God do over the last few weeks:
We received a call from a gentleman asking if he needed to reserve a spot in the shelter last Saturday. We told him that there would be plenty of room. He heard about the shelter after reading about it in the Blackstone Valley Tribune. He had been living in his car for the past three weeks and was just looking for a soft warm bed for the night. He came into the shelter and was very thankful for the warm blankets (all which had been donated in the past few weeks). He asked if he had to go right to bed or could he stay up and chat. Just by coincidence, the volunteer that was working the first shift brought a chess set and when our guest saw it, his eyes lit up and he asked if they could play. The two of them played until 10 o’clock, when our guest went to bed and slept comfortably until 6:30 the next morning. When I drove up for church, he was sitting in his car in front of the church. He asked if he could join us for worship. God was totally in charge.
Another example was that I was thinking that it would be a wonderful thing to have “guest bags” where we could give people snacks and gift cards. Without speaking the idea aloud, our Deacons put together gift bags filled with snacks and a gift certificate for McDonalds. God again was in charge.
I have been trying to crochet mats from plastic grocery bags to give to people who might have to be out in the cold on a day we can’t be open. This has been a huge undertaking for someone that does not crochet. It takes over 600 bags to make one mat. I have been trying to work on ONE mat for over six weeks and to be perfectly honest – it is just ugly. Then about a week ago, I got a call from a group of crafting ladies that have been making these same mats and they were looking for a place to donate them. They dropped of two mats last week and are working on more for our shelter. There is God again.
The shelter has 25 yoga mats but a dream was to have collapsible cots for our guests so they would not have to sleep on the floor. But that was a dream that seemed too expensive for us to do right now. God has other plans. We had a business owner come to help at Peace of Bread and asked Laurie if we had opened the shelter. He also wanted to know what we were using for people to sleep on. She told him we were using yoga mats and he asked “Why?” He told us to research the cost of cots and he would take care of it. Again God….
There are more stories of people donating, helping and volunteering. Actually too many to share in this one article. But for now, it’s amazing to watch God work. He has waited over a decade for this shelter to take shape and now that it’s started – He is taking over and getting an entire community involved!
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”