S.H.A.L.O.M. A Ministry to the Homeless
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.
SHALOM came into existence to offer food and lodging to the homeless of Middletown, Ohio at a time when it was feared that the city’s only homeless shelter might have to cease operations. SHALOM is an acronym for Serving the Homeless with Alternate Lodging Of Middletown. Under the spiritual guidance of Fr. Christos B. Christakis, Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church is one of the founding members of this network.
Now entering its third year of ministry, SHALOM has become a network of local churches of various denominations that “…share their bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into their houses” (Isaiah 58:7-8). Each week on a rotating basis, a church in the network provides meals and shelter within their church facilities. Two vans have been purchased to transport those in need of shelter from a central location to the host church. Guests have the opportunity to bathe before dinner, and to relax after dinner in a warm and safe environment.
Though participating churches have different traditions, worship styles, outreach programs and ministries, they have found common ground in enthusiastically serving the less fortunate and homeless of the community through this shared ministry.
When a new person comes to SHALOM for shelter, a written list of policies is provided so that each guest knows what to expect, and what is expected of them. Each person receives a supply of personal care items and a container for their personal items. Social workers from various agencies are present to interview and advise each guest as needed to apply for assistance that might empower them to become self-sufficient. This assistance may be in the form of medical care, food stamps, clothing, employment or housing. Some guests receive assistance in all of these areas, while others may need only a little encouragement and help to overcome their situations.
The stated purpose of SHALOM is to provide meals and temporary shelter to the homeless
Getting the Word Out
Local law enforcement officials, the community hospital, news reports, and word of mouth have served to inform the public, and the homeless, of the shelter program. In addition, social service agencies work closely with SHALOM to assist the homeless in applying for benefits which they may be eligible to receive, and to obtain medical care, employment, and housing as needed.
Providing for Needs
Area churches without the facilities to house and/or serve meals may participate by donating food and personal grooming items such as shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc. Other donations have included socks, towels, blankets, air mattresses, and cots. Donations of money are used to purchase additional items as needed. Members of all churches are welcome to spend the night at the host church, volunteering as needed and to helping to serve meals. Community businesses have donated pre-cooked meals, treating the homeless to a wide variety of ethnic foods. A volunteer cooking staff prepares delicious meals from donated foods.
Members of the host church volunteer to serve meals and spend the night with their homeless guests under the guidance and spiritual direction of the church's respective ministers. Education on mental health, substance abuse, and safety/hygiene issues affecting assistance to the homeless is offered at annual SHALOM Empowerment Day seminars. Experts on each topic provide interactive presentations.
For More Information
Visit the Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church website.