Interfaith Outreach Second Collection, Dec. 3-4, 2022
By Murray Wolf, Outreach Committee Member
Sometimes, the meaning of certain Bible verses can be difficult to grasp without the help of a theologian or a scripture scholar. But others are pretty obvious. Consider this passage from Matthew 25:
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”
But, out here in the prosperous western suburbs, this might seem a little abstract. Although we certainly all have friends and family who are sick at various times, it can be quite rare for most of us to have a direct encounter with someone who is hungry, thirsty, ill-clothed or homeless. Those are big city problems, right?
Unfortunately, just because we don’t see the poor and homeless in our community doesn’t mean they’re not there. Housing in this area is expensive – and becoming even more so with inflation. Plymouth-based Interfaith Outreach reports that its clients without housing subsidies are paying an average of 58% of their total income for housing, up from 52-54% in recent years, leaving little money left for other necessities.
Often, those housing costs become simply too much. In 2021, Interfaith reports that it worked with 145 families that were homeless at some point during the year. Of those, 35% lived in a shelter, 27% lived outside or in a car and 26% lived doubled up with family/friends.
So the sad reality is that the homeless do indeed live among us. And Jesus’ message is clear: We are supposed to care for them.
Thankfully, even if we don’t have many direct encounters with the homeless, there is an easy and effective way we can respond to the Lord’s call. Since 1979, Interfaith has worked with partners like Holy Name of Jesus to help needy individuals and families with housing, as well as food, education, employment and transportation.
When it comes to housing, Interfaith’s big annual event is the Sleep Out, which is a time to raise awareness and funds to prevent housing instability, eviction or homelessness in our community. Since the first Sleep Out in 1995, Interfaith and it’s partners like HNOJ have prevented homelessness 35,438 times.
Of course, you don’t rack up that kind of track record without the support of the community. In the past five years alone, Interfaith’s expenses for assisting families and individuals at risk of eviction and homelessness have totaled more than $4.5 million.
It’s time once again to renew our focus on caring for the “least” of our brothers and sisters, right here in our own community. Interfaith’s annual Sleep Out will take place from Nov. 14 to Dec. 11, to raise awareness and funds.
Holy Name of Jesus will take up a second collection for Interfaith Outreach on Dec. 3-4, to support their efforts. Please write checks out to HNOJ with IOCP in the memo. If you and your family have been blessed, please consider sharing those blessings with the poor and homeless among us. After all, as Jesus says in that passage from Mathew 25:40
“...whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”