After New Life Christian Fellowship in Supply opened its weekly meal and clothing program for Brunswick County homeless called Showers of Blessing on Monday nights earlier this month, they expected to be busy.
Donated clothes are carefully stacked by size from infant to adult in the upstairs of the church's activity center. A special bathroom has been outfitted with various toiletries for anyone who needs to take a shower. Silk flowers sit in glass vases atop the refrigerator ready to add some cheer to the Monday night dinner tables.
But the program isn't being used, said Theresa Tese, director of the program. She's also the founder of four-year-old Comfort Socks, a local nonprofit that has distributed more than 43,000 socks to agencies and nonprofits that serve the homeless in the state.
In the three weeks since Showers of Blessing has been active, only a handfull of people have come on Monday nights. Showers of Blessing is open 5-7 p.m. each Monday night at New Life, 2162 Stone Chimney Road SW in Supply.
“The obstacle is getting people to understand it's a safe place and how to find the church because it's a hard church to find,” Tese said of the church on Stone Chimney Road in Supply. “I can't stand the thought of a child or someone going hungry today. It just shouldn't be. We're not in a Third World country.”
Tese said after New Life was a host site for Brunswick County Streetreach in November, they wanted to start a weekly dinner program to help the homeless or low-income population have a meal and a place to shower. She added that they didn't want to compete with Streetreach but to add to the help in the county for the homeless. Churches in the Brunswick County Streetreach program host homeless people nightly until 7 a.m. each morning for one week, and the program moves on to another church the next week. The program was the first of its kind in the county. Though Brunswick does not have a publicly funded homeless shelter, the county's commissioners recently recognized the growing role the nonprofit sector is playing in caring for the poor.
In November 2012, at the urging of the Brunswick County Homeless Coalition, the Brunswick County Commissioners adopted a proclamation of a week in November called the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in Brunswick County.
The Streetreach host site this week is First Baptist Church of Shallotte. Pastor Bob Weathers at First Baptist said about 15 homeless people stayed at his church on Monday night (Jan. 28).
Showers of Blessing hopes to add one more tool to the fight against hunger and homelessness, Tese said. One of the donors to the program bought 105 pairs of underwear in all different sizes and large bath towels.
“She said to me, 'When a person comes out of the shower, I want them to know that it's Jesus that's covering them,” she said. “The heart of giving whatever you can give is beautiful.”
According to Streetreach statistics, the organization helped 196 individuals, kept five families from being evicted and paid power bills for eight families in 2012, its first full year of seasonal operation.
At Showers of Blessing, the volunteers sit down to eat and fellowship with the guests.
“We just want to comfort them and give them a good hot meal. If that helps them be able to tie ends together then so be it,” she added. “We're ready. Everything's all set. We just need the people.”
Details: Call the church for a ride to Showers of Blessing each Monday night, 910-269-8577 or 910-842-3201.