by Rob Good and Jeff Strasburg
As participants in the Winter Outreach volunteer collective, Christ Church Cathedral and St. John’s, Tower Grove, serve as emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings when the temperature drops below 20° or 25° with inclement weather. Each parish provides dinner, breakfast, and a safe, warm sleeping space for people who might otherwise spend the night in deadly cold.
Through this ministry we strive to live out our baptismal covenant to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves. While most churches in the diocese are not located in places that would be convenient emergency shelters, there are many ways Episcopalians throughout the Diocese can join with St. John’s and Christ Church Cathedral in this ministry that provides lifesaving support to those in need during the brutal winter months.
One way to become involved is to volunteer at either the St. John’s or Christ Church Cathedral shelters. There are a number of volunteer roles available including set-up, greeting, providing dinner, spending the night, clean up, and laundry. Please contact the coordinators listed below if you are interested in any of those opportunities.
The Winter Outreach collective also has a need for volunteers in several other components of their operation. Shuttle drivers move people from a meeting point downtown to the emergency shelters open that evening, usually between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Street Outreach teams work between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm to assist people who haven’t made it to shelters and may be planning to spend the night in bitter weather.
Winter Outreach also can always make good use of monetary donations and/or supplies. Thick, heavy quilts and blankets that can survive the elements, as well as sturdy hats, socks, scarves, and gloves are always needed. St. John’s and the Cathedral can make use of cot-sized sheets, blankets, and pillows, and food for dinners and breakfasts for our guests and volunteers. If you like to cook, a casserole or batch of stew or chili that you keep in your freezer for Winter Outreach use would be most welcome! The organization has a list of its needs at https://www.stlwinteroutreach.org/donations
Want to learn more about this effort, and how you can contribute?
— Winter Outreach has a website (https://www.stlwinteroutreach.org/) and a Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/StLouisWinterOutreac/?ref=share) with lots of information available.
— Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the Winter Outreach coordinator at St. John’s - you can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-529-6968 (cell).
— Rob Good is the Winter Outreach coordinator at Christ Church Cathedral-you can connect with him at email@example.com or 314-920-6439 (cell).