This is Homeless Awareness Month

The Beacon of Hope Shelter reaches out with love to those on the fringes of society, those who have nowhere else to turn, and those whom others have forgotten. We not only care for the immediate physical needs of the homeless, we help them overcome the challenges that led to their plight so they can learn to stand on their own again, as productive and contributing members of our community.

October is homeless awareness month. At a minimum we need to increase awareness of this ever growing segment of our population. The impact of homelessness is well known at the Beacon of Hope. What we didn’t realize was the impact it has had on the people and organizations that support us. What I really would like to share with you is testimonies of our volunteers who we appreciate so much.

Susan Miller Collins

I joined Steve Roe on a trip to the homeless camps in Des Moines and I met people that didn’t want to stay at the new multimillion dollar facility because it felt sterile and unwelcoming. When we went to visit I completely understood what they meant as I found myself feeling the same way. Oddly enough when I think back on the status of the Beacon and the renovations and “mess” it didn’t feel sterile or uninviting. I felt safe and secure and that says a lot being a female volunteer in a men’s shelter. I also had the pleasure of working with Fort Dodge Senior High and Todd Constable in bringing homeless men into his class to talk with him about their stories. I watched as these young minds were asking tremendous questions and you could see that they truly wanted to affect change in the world around them.

Every moment that you spend working with someone who doesn’t know what tomorrow holds has the power to change you. The staff and the men all have stories and experiences that are amazing and unique. I found myself identifying and healing issues that I had thought better left forgotten. I realized that I am a person, I have a name, a story, I am real, I exist, and I matter.

David A. Grindberg, senior pastor, St. Olaf Lutheran Church

God sure has an odd way of doing business. I mean, who would have ever guessed that God would use a heat wave to change lives?

It was a couple of summers ago now, during one of those long, hot 100-plus degree stretches.

Beacon of Hope was not air conditioned. Meanwhile the St. Olaf fellowship hall air conditioning was stuck in the on position. We couldn’t turn it off. Our church council invited the Beacon to be our guests. What happened next was nothing short of amazing. Before those mattresses made their way up 11th street, you could feel the congregation changing.

My conversations with Steve Roe solidified a friendship. Our women fixed a meal. I fielded numerous phone calls, members who were thrilled that St. Olaf was doing this. Worship that Sunday was electric. As we gathered around the Word and shared in the sacrament, you could feel Christ’s presence.

In the midst of all of this, a couple of the guys pulled me aside, wanted to thank me. It felt so odd – them thanking me? Thanking us? We were the ones who should be doing the thanking. Simply by coming and being our guests, those men became treasures that left me speechless. (And let me tell you, leaving this preacher speechless is no small thing.)

That was two years ago and the treasures keep coming. To this all I can say is thank you, gentlemen.

Thank you for being our guests.

In that regard, I’d like to invite all of you to spend a little time at the Beacon. Go to chapel services, prepare a meal, or just hang out and get to know the guys. However be warned, if you do stop by you may leave a changed person.

A heat wave – all of this started with a heat wave. It’s an odd way of doing business, wouldn’t you say?

Sharon Perkins, Trinity United Methodist Church

I am one of six women from Trinity United Methodist Church who have dedicated one day a week to cook and serve a homemade, nutritious meal to the men at the Beacon of Hope homeless shelter.

Steve Roe’s vision and dedication to this dream inspired many to come scrub, peel, mend and paint to make this facility habitable for the homeless. We too felt the need to help, and have used our talents to prepare and serve meals to the men for over two years now. We have come to know the individuals who reside at the shelter. Some who are there for only a short period of time, and some who are there longer. Many stop back at the kitchen and thank us for the meal and express their appreciation.

I cannot tell you how blessed we are with this mission and the sense of peace and fulfillment that we feel at serving in this small measure to those who need to be shown that we care.

I recall particularly Ted, a young man who was abandoned at a young age by his mother. I cared what happened to him and we talked frequently at the meals we served. I was amazed by his courage and persistence to make his life better. I learned later that he told Steve I was like the mother he never had. I am humbled to think that taking the time to talk and encourage could make such a difference. Ted has since left the shelter, has a job and his own apartment.

The Beacon of Hope is like that. Beacon of Hope is a faith-based mission, thus ineligible for any federal or state funding. Beacon of Hope has a tremendous capacity for caring, providing shelter, food, clothing, and teaching about the love of God. The Beacon of Hope depends on donations, whether it is time, food, monetary, or simply prayer. It does not matter why these men find themselves homeless, they just need our help at this time in their lives. Compassion and caring are good things. If you need an answer to what we are called to do in this world, please read Matthew 25:34-40. It may change your life.

Steve Roe is director of the Beacon of Hope Shelter.