Homeless Issue #119

Homeless Issue #119                                                       12/22/17
Nomadic Shelter Review
Don Vanderkar
Hangtown Haven, aka Community Haven
and the Nomadic Shelter

The Nomadic Shelter is in its 7th year of operation.  The Shelter program is the product of the efforts of local church pastors and lay people who take religious teachings very seriously.  The Nomadic Shelter volunteers work hard to find churches that will open their doors to people with no housing.  They operate a program of care and love within the church facilities.  Those of us volunteering to make the Nomadic Shelter happen may have differences in some aspects of theology, but we come together, work hard and focus on our shared belief that we are made in the image of God and called to follow Christ.  Christ tells us that we are to love others, and are called to shelter people without houses, feed people without food, clothe people without clothes, and talk with people who are lonely or in despair.   It is wonderful and inspiring to work with fellow Christians in harmony and with common goals, all focused on love and care of those less fortunate. 

The Nomadic Shelter needs help.  We can provide shelter currently only four nights of the seven day week. We need three more churches to open their doors and welcome people who otherwise are on the streets suffering from cold weather, unhealthy conditions, and loneliness.  An option to a church facility could be a rented facility where volunteers could conduct a shelter.

Core in our tasks of sheltering is the opportunity to show love and respect to our fellow human beings.  This can be in the form of bringing food to shelters, helping to transport our guests in shelter vans, being supportive and loving in other ways, including listening to personal stories, or contributing funds that pay for sleeping mats, blankets, vehicles and fuel and other costs of operation.

Parallel with our religious focus is a secular reality.  Our Country’s Declaration of Independence includes these words:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Every human being is deserving of basic needs for life.   Being without a house, clean clothes, a recent bath or a haircut does not alter basic humanness.  We all have the same genetic structure.  We all have “inalienable rights.”  We all have need for safety, food, shelter and people who care.  We all need community.

We human beings have stories that are special.  These stories may include joy, friendship and warmth but all too often include trauma of loss, loneliness, despair, fear or assault.    These stories may be hard to deal with.  We may try to forget but the traumatic experiences often stay locked inside and we may relive them.  Some of us end up without many resources and may be desperately trying to find a place where we can survive the night without freezing or being robbed or physically harmed.  In a situation like this we may turn to alcohol and or drugs to help ease the fear and pain.
When we share stories with others and are listened to, we become more human.  We are touched by another person and fine that we are valued enough to be heard.   It is usually a relief of loneliness and grief, at least for a moment

The Nomadic Shelter provides not only shelter and food but an opportunity to share life stories and be truly human with others.  It is an opportunity to gain insight in humanity. During the nights that the Nomadic Shelter operates, there is time each evening to sit with another human being, be present with that person, and share a few moments.   Often the listener will be in awe as to how this person survived the experiences he or she has had.

Some homeless people may put up a stern presence, as many have been conditioned to expect scorn or distain.  The “scorners” may not have had the opportunity to understand the history of another person, to recognize the “inalienable rights” that the homeless person has or to understand the impact of respect. 

Those of us coming from a Christian perspective may not have taken the opportunity to look for the face of Jesus in the face of the person with whom we are present.
If you are moved to help, the Nomadic Shelter may be an opportunity for you to be of service.  You may experience some amazing things that will change your life.

May God bless each and everyone with what we have to offer and what God has to offer.Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Ron Sachs/JSS