Monday, October 05, 2009

NYC Trip Reflection: Sunset Park Ministry

During our mission trip to New York City we worked in a wide variety of different ministries. We spent one morning in the basement of a church in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn that ministers to the homeless. We did not meet any homeless people there, but we did meet Pastor Larry (a different Pastor Larry) and his wife Pastor Margie. They are an amazing and dedicated couple of great faith who do a tremendous amount of good with very limited resources. They offer very practical assistance to the homeless. Ten months of the year (not in July and August) they offer bathrooms, showers and clean clothes to anyone needing them. They also serve hot meals and bag lunches to anyone who asks. They accept donations of used clothing and used almost anything else to support their ministry.

We spent the morning helping Margie sort two entire rooms of donations to prepare for the September opening. We organized boxes of men’s pants, sweatshirts, blankets, plastic tablecloths to put on the sidewalk, bags of all kinds and a couple of folding carts suitable for carrying one’s possessions. We are talking basic survival here. A church volunteer spent that entire morning filling hundreds of small bottles with soap and shampoo for the showers. There will be many customers. There is a washer and dryer in the basement as well as the bathrooms and showers. Clients can leave their dirty clothes and replace them with clean ones.

If the discards are salvageable they are washed and offered to someone else the next week. Donated household goods not usable by those without houses are sold on an ongoing “garage sale” table just outside the church door. The proceeds help support the ministry. We worked hard all morning and felt we accomplished something. But it was only one day.

Larry and Margie are there every day, living the Gospel. At the end of our work time we prayed together. They had never had any Episcopalians volunteer before. I hope we won’t be the last.

-CSM New York Trip Participant

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