Grace UMC Continues Faithful Service to Hesed House

By Larry Hartman

The 185 faces of homelessness - black, brown, white, weathered, fresh, worried, joyful.  These are the faces of the needy that Grace Church served one night last month at the overnight emergency shelter at Hesed House, Aurora.  

Hesed House is a non-for-profit coalition of religious ministries serving the very poor in Fox Valley.  Started in the 1980s by religious leaders and concerned citizens, it is now the second largest shelter in the state.  With professional staff, alliances with outside agencies and 6,000 volunteers from 70 area churches, over 1,000 people are served each year.  In addition to the overnight shelter, they provide many other programs including case management, housing support, employment training, medical assistance, and a family shelter.

As the new Grace coordinator for Hesed House, I stepped into a “well-oiled machine” that has been serving since the inception of Hesed House.  Through the generosity of Grace, we are responsible for the second Tuesday of each month.  We provide volunteers to help with dinner preparation and serving, overnight monitoring, lunch and breakfast preparation.  In addition to the groceries we purchase, church members lovingly provide home-cooked potato or green bean casseroles, salads, and cookies. 

While guests are getting a hot meal, shower, and a bed for the night, they also receive donated personal hygiene and medical supplies from their “store,” staffed by a Grace volunteer.  A Hesed House collection box will be located outside the Activity Center to collect these items.  

Current needs are listed on their website www.hesedhouse.org, which includes the following critical items:
    
•  Cough drops            
•  Shower gel (full-sized)    
•  Alcohol-free cold medicine    
•  Alcohol-free mouthwash
•  Hair brushes, large combs, and picks
•   Men's & Women's underwear
•  Alcohol-free mouthwash
•  Laundry detergent
•  New sippy cups & bottles
•  Over-the-counter topical ointments

Many of our faithful volunteers have participated for several years, but now is the time to expand the volunteer list.  Contact Larry Hartman (lehartman@sbcglobal.net) if you are interested in volunteering on a regular basis or just being included on a substitute list.