For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. ~Matthew 25:35.
This past week, the Maine work campers traveled approximately 5 hours north to Orland, Maine. This is the 3rd year that members of our congregation have volunteered for this organization.
This nonprofit organization is called H.O.M.E. or Homeworkers Organized for More Employment. Their mission is to serve first those who suffer most. H.O.M.E. was founded in 1970 by Sister Lucy Poulin and is dedicated to keeping and enhancing the quality of life for low income and homeless families. HOME works hard to ensure life’s basic necessities of food, shelter, work and education. Their beliefs are that individuals deserve a chance to improve their lives and can become empowered, hopeful, and a valuable part of their community. They give a hand rather than a hand out.
In 1985, HOME joined forces with the Emmaus movement, an international solidarity movement dedicated to tackling the causes of exclusion and to combat poverty.
At the time Sr. Lucy founded H.O.M.E., it began as a way for community crafters to supplement their income through a crafters co-op. It has evolved based on the existing need and skills. Some of the programs today that are up and running include, a bargain barn, a craft store, a daycare, a soup kitchen and food bank, a garage for auto and small engine repair, gardens and a greenhouse, housing, a learning center, a saw mill, shelter, a thrift store, the Wayside Chapel of St. Francis, a pottery studio, a cobbler, and a bakery.
Our focus this past week was to renovate the entrance and kitchen for the Learning Center space. This Learning Center provides programs for disadvantaged individuals and families. It fosters opportunities for access to education and community involvement. It is one’s first glimpse into H.O.M.E.
As volunteers, we work with the skill level of the group at the time. What began this year as a two year desire to clean this entryway and kitchen up became so much more. On one hand, in order for H.O.M.E. to help others, they too need help and support, so as to not run on empty. However, what unfolded for us were the small stories that left a huge impact.
H.O.M.E. asked us what Bible verses drives or motivates us. Thanks to Ginny here are some powerful verses.
I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my strength come? My strength comes from The Lord,
who made Heaven and Earth. – psalm 121
For we are laborers together…We are building for God. – 1 Corinthians 3:9
Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.
Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.
1 Peter 4:11
The conditions of this work space before and after are remarkable and can be viewed in the Fellowship Hall. There is also a bulletin board displaying statistics from H.O.M.E.’s business report from 2016 showing their impact on the community.
For a brief moment we became part of their community and have an understanding of their struggles and challenges.
Some of our own concerns as this project concluded include:
~Will this area be kept clean and functioning? The door to this space is left open to the outside as it is a shelter.
~Theft is a way of life. Will the kitchen and entry way items still be there in a day, a week, a month?
As concerned as we were about the challenges, I feel we may have made a small impact. For instance, when we were going to borrow a pot from the renovated kitchen to cook pasta in for our own dinner, the cabinet where the new pots and pans were now located was locked. A small change for us, but a valuable change for H.O.M.E.
On behalf of the Maine camp workers, I would like to thank you all for your support during our fundraising efforts throughout the course of the year as well as the Pembroke Firehouse Food Pantry for their tremendous donations. We could not have done this without you. We welcome you to come join us next year, June 24-30 2018 as we head back H.O.M.E.