Last week I went to a fundraising event for the Interfaith Hospitality Network (because I’ve bonded with them, we can call it IHN).
The IHN is a coalition of 90 congregations throughout Cincinnati that help homeless families stay together and escape homelessness. IHN is one of only two shelters in the area that keeps the entire family together (most organizations separate fathers and teenage boys from the women and children).
Twenty seven of the congregations open their doors during the year to feed the families, play with their children, and give them a place to spend the night.
Instead of an invocation, Rabbi Wise gave a very nice d’var Torah (only he didn’t call it that) on the theme of “The best way to give thanks is to share what we have with those in need.”
Over 350 use IHN each year and 250 of those are children. That’s 28,000 meals.
In serving others, you learn how to model yourself. –Ono
The fact is, being homeless is not a disease. It is not contagious. No one deserves to be homeless or poor and homelessness can happen to the best of us. Every person you know, every person you have ever known, every person you will ever meet has the potential to face difficult times, to find themselves unable to pay their rent, unable to buy food for their family, unable to find a job.
At UC, they work to educate students not just in academics but in being good people. “We want them—wherever they go—to serve others as a part of their lives.”
Dr. Ono believes that when we help others, we help ourselves. He’s not alone in that belief—and that is a wonderful thing.
After Dr. Ono, Beatrice, a former IHN client, spoke. Wow. Just Wow. She had been homeless but with IHN’s help within 35 days she and her son were in an apartment and she had a job. “Homelessness does not mean helplessness.”
Following Beatrice, the executive director of IHN spoke. In a morning of powerful statements, she made one of the most impactful. She said, “Children should not have to shoulder the burden of a family. They should run and play and screech with joy.” No child should know the fear of sleeping in a car.
Given what I learned at the YWCA event, I know that there are often times when children don’t have the luxury to be children. We all need work to let kids be kids.
85% of the families that use IHN services never return to homelessness. That is an amazing statistic.
Thank you, Stacey, for inviting me to the breakfast and introducing me to the Interfaith Hospitality network and all the good it does in our community.