By Pastor Jim Szakacs*
It’s common for the dormitories at The Nehemiah Mission in Cleveland to be a revolving door for short-term mission teams coming and going to and from neighborhoods around the mission site. But that wasn’t the case most of last year – and probably most of this year – due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Through the month of January and the first few days of February 2021, the dorms have remained empty and silent.
So that a good resource doesn’t go unused, the Nehemiah Mission, a Health & Welfare agency of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, has partnered with the Metanoia Project to become a temporary sheltering facility for people in need.
The Metanoia Project is a 501(c)3 that is focused on forming authentic relationships with men and women who are un-sheltered by responding personally and creatively to fill a gap in the social service structure. The organization provides multiple programs to help the most vulnerable, who often find themselves underserved and living under bridges, and in alleys and parks. The team at Metanoia Project has formed creative ways to provide hot meals, showers, clothing, and hygiene products as well as overnight sheltering.
We have worked with Metanoia at various levels in the past and have desired to help with emergency sheltering. In past years however, with our dorms in use for short-term teams, we were unable to offer them. If there can be serendipity in COVID, this would be it. We are pleased to welcome up to 15 guests each evening through the cold weather months, providing overnight shelter and co-hosting with Metanoia.
Metanoia Project Executive Director Heidi Goblirsch is pleased that our organizations are partnering to assist residents of our neighborhoods.
“Allowing us to serve our most vulnerable community members at The Nehemiah Mission has been a blessing for us this season. It has allowed us a safe place for people to seek shelter out of the cold, get a meal, connect with others, and seek help. We are able to have conversations and seek out their goals. Many would be left on the streets unable to find the help they so desperately need. When you add into the mix of COVID it becomes even harder for everyone to find a place to stay safe and without the help from Nehemiah Mission many of the connections would be lost,” she said.
The Conference Communications team would like to share other stories that highlight ways that each of us is answering the call of Bishop Tracy S. Malone to reach out to our communities in creative ways. Please e-mail your ministry story to EOC Director of Communications Rick Wolcott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Pastor Jim Szakacs is a full-time licensed local pastor in the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church currently serving in extension ministry as the director of the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland.