A place to call home



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

A place to call home

Dec. 29, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011  
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0596}

NOTE: This story is a sidebar to “Minister asks congregation, ‘What in God’s name are you doing here?’ ” FUMS #0595 at: http://www.flumc2.org/FCNN/articles/000030/003000.htm

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

TAMPA — Home. For many, it’s a word that is more a feeling than a place, yet for some it’s something that was once within their grasps and then suddenly gone.

That’s how it felt to Lynndale Royal.

The single mother was wrestling with the idea of providing a better life for her two young children while also struggling with the stressful arrangement of living with her sister. The former cashier for Wal-Mart knew there was a better life waiting for her if she could just find the courage and faith within herself to discover it.

Children living in a four-unit apartment complex owned by Metropolitan Ministries and used for families in transition to self-sufficiency play on the complex's playground. Photo by Linda J. Beavers, Photo #06-496. Web photo only.

Royal did that in January of 2005 when she walked into the office of Metropolitan Ministries, a faith-based and community-supported nonprofit organization in the Tampa area that provides food, clothing, shelter and other vital services to poor and homeless families living in Tampa.

The organization’s goal is to provide faithful answers through services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency as an expression of the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ. Most importantly, the agency strives to offer compassion and hope — hope for a brighter future.

Royal visited the agency and found herself surrounded by people who encouraged her and refused to allow her to even think about failing.

She received employment guidance and began moving forward in her career choice as a certified technician with the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. She began participating with the HOMES program, a new partnership between Metropolitan Ministries and Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.

Housing Offering Mentoring Education and Support or HOMES was the foundation on which Royal began building a new life — a life that is now filled with a place she and her two children, 4 and 7, can call home.

“They have been there for me,” Royal said of HOMES. “Anything and everything you can think of. They really made a difference. They let me know that people care about me.”

That’s exactly what coordinators at Metropolitan Ministries and Hyde Park United Methodist Church wanted to accomplish when the program was launched last August.

Jamie Meyer, director of education and literacy services at Metropolitan Ministries and a member of the church, said HOMES became a reality because the two groups worked as one to make it a reality.

Meyer said she remembers the church sending out detailed questionnaires to members designed to gauge their interests on a variety of subjects. She said one question specifically related to the idea that what breaks a person’s heart also breaks the heart of God. The top two concerns of the congregation the survey identified were homelessness and children.

Meyer said she knew instantly there was an opportunity for the church and Metropolitan Ministries to work together on their joint concern. She said a four-apartment building had been donated to Metropolitan Ministries and the agency could use help working with families who would be moving into the apartment, designated for transitional housing. From that opportunity HOMES ministry was born.

Requirements for potential tenants to participate in the program and other details were established and the program was up and running. Tenants live in the complex for one year while they work with a case manager and volunteers from the church who help them learn to manage running a household and its corresponding responsibilities.

Kate and Darin Crawford try out their new mirror and bedroom set, donated to them through Hyde Park United Methodist Church's HOMES ministry. Church members donated enough household goods to renovate two apartments in Metropolitan Ministries' four-unit apartment complex for families in transition to self-sufficiency. HOMES is a partnership between the church and the agency that was launched last August. Photo by Linda J. Beavers, Photo #06-497. Web photo only.

Church members help the four families living in the apartment building with tasks like cutting grass, car maintenance, transportation, home maintenance, child care, budgeting, home organization and other needs. The families are surrounded with love and support, and church members are directly involved in hands-on ministry.

“The program has been incredible,” Meyer said. “The congregation has really answered the call. We have about 150 people who are a support system for the families. And the families and volunteers become close, lives are being touched.”

Although still in its infancy the program has been so successful Metropolitan Ministries is going to model HOMES and ask other churches and organizations to participate in a similar way or start their own program. The agency has already secured another apartment building, one with 12 units, that will also be used as transitional housing.

Meyers says the idea that work and faith can not only co-exist but thrive has been an exciting by-product and she has experienced a rebirth of her own faith as a result of the ministry.

“It is powerful,” she said. “It has renewed my faith. I see how the people of God can make a difference. I see that people will help when you ask. So many people were just sitting in the background waiting to be asked because they didn’t know where to start.”

Now that Royal has had her start with HOMES, she has a home of her own, a career and increased self-esteem.

“I know I can do something if I stay focused,” she said. “And I know God loves me.”

Metropolitan Ministries began in 1972 with the mission of reaching out and providing answers that help prevent homelessness, ease hunger, offer life-changing answers leading to self-sufficiency and support people in their transition back into the community. Hyde Park United Methodist Church began in 1899 when three families became concerned about the welfare of children in their neighborhood and started a Sunday school on the corner where the church now stands. Since then the church has been committed to caring for its community with the mission “Making God’s Love Real.”

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This article relates to Outreach.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




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