Natalie's been a friend on Twitter since the Church put out an urgent call for funds to buy laundry soap so the clients could wash their clothes. My husband felt that was a real need and responded. After that he kept in touch so we ended up having a tour of the place and a Tweet up lunch with Nat.
One area she showed us really struck me because of its practicality and my own attachment to "stuff". First United turned part of their parking garage into storage space for homeless people. Everyone gets a bin; a few store shopping carts.
She told us that in the weeks after this storage was put into use that property crimes and littering in the area dropped dramatically according to the police. I can imagine nothing more useful than this idea, with the exception of course of food and shelter. It is a practical and concrete way to ease the lives of those who are trying to overcome problems.
Now the Church has an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds (campaign closed successfully) to replace the bins. I'd like to suggest that some of you with much donate in this season of abundance, so that people with very little at least have a place to keep it safe.
They have a really heartwarming video at the Indiegogo site. The people using the bins describe what it means to them much better than I ever could.
Another area they have at First United is a chapel which provides a place of peace, as well as a space for healing ceremonies and meetings.
Lunch with Nat was great. Here's a picture of it, though the company was more of a feature than the food.