Interfaith Hospitality Network Ministry
The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Coastal Georgia was developed to alleviate homelessness among families with children by providing emergency shelter, meals and comprehensive support. Host congregations of all faiths participate. First Presbyterian Church hosts families who stay in the church building for one-week periods. Volunteers provide evening meals, tutoring with children and stay in the building overnight. See www.ihnsav.org for information.
Kim Tate coordinates the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) Ministry for First Presbyterian Church. Members sign up for a day of the week and an activity. See below for a description of how volunteers can assist with this ministry. Call Kim Tate if you would like to help First Presbyterian Church hosts homeless guest families about 3-4 times during the year for a week at a time.
The maximum number of guests at a time is approximately 3 families or 14 people. The host week begins on Sunday. A church volunteer meets the bed delivery truck at 7:30 a.m. at the church to help unload the beds and store them in the church. After the Sunday church service, members move the beds into the various upstairs Sunday School classrooms where they set up temporary bedrooms. The guest families arrive at 5:30 p.m. that Sunday evening. During the day the family members are typically at work and school. Younger children and parents spend time at the Day Center where childcare is usually available along with assistance in finding jobs. The families congregate daily at the Day Center at 5 p.m. and the IHN van driver delivers them to the Host Church at 5:30 p.m.
The Evening Host & guests families typically go upstairs after the meal to the “den” to play games, watch TV or to do homework. Children also play on the church playground until dark. At 8:30 p.m. the Overnight Host arrives and the Evening Host departs. The Overnight Host meets the guests, makes sure they are comfortable and then sleeps in his/her own bedroom. Each guest family has a separate bedroom. The family members typically rise early for breakfast. They make their own breakfast in the kitchen and some pack a lunch for the day. They depart on the IHN van around 7:00 a.m. The Overnight Hosts leave also. The families return that evening at 5:30 p.m. and the routine continues until the following Sunday morning when the families depart and move on to the next Host Church. The Volunteer IHN Coordinator remains in the position for about a year. The Coordinator oversees the breakfast and lunch groceries that are placed in the church kitchen, checks on the volunteers and families throughout the week and assists with needed toiletries. The Coordinator recruits the volunteers about 2-3 weeks prior to the host week and sends emails/makes phone calls to organize the week.
The IHN ministry falls under the Social Concerns Committee, currently chaired by Jane McKenzie. Members include Pearl Spaulding, Rich & Linda Wittish, Steven Smith and Pam Daly.
FPC hosted a reception to meet Lavanda Brown, the Director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network and to learn more about the program. See the picture of the event below.