HELPING SHOW THE TANGIBLE LOVE OF JESUS THROUGH THE HOMELESS MINISTRY OF THE BOWERY MISSION IN NEW YORK CITY
Friday October 24th- Sunday October 27th 2013
A team from CCLC traveled to NYC to serve the needs of the homeless through the Bowery Rescue Mission. They had the opportunity to experience daily life in the Mission, working shoulder-to-shoulder with both staff and resident students, as they served the vast community of homeless and hungry people in New York City together.
The Bowery Mission has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879, when its neighborhood came to define the term “skid row.” Their children’s programs, called Kids With A Promise, serves at-risk youth and began in 1894 by giving the children of recent immigrants the chance to escape the tenements in the summer.
At The Bowery Mission, they seek to meet the specific needs of each man, woman, and child who walks through our doors. First, they help the homeless by meeting immediate needs: food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. In their residential recovery programs, they address deeper needs for spiritual wholeness, life and job skills training, and addiction recovery. They measure their progress against five criteria, which indicates that a life has been transformed from homelessness to hope: connection to faith, connection to family, commitment to sobriety, a job and a place to live, and a plan for the future.
HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HELPING THE HOMELESS
Homelessness is a shared experience in New York City:
– In 2012, New York City’s homeless shelter population reached its highest levels ever since the Great Depression. An average of 10,048 homeless men and women slept in shelters each night during the month, the highest since 1989 when the average was 9,342.
– Single adults account for less than a quarter of home- less people in the New York City shelter system. In April 2012, there were more than 43,000 homeless people in NYC shelters. This included 15,787 families and a record 17,247 children.
– During 2011, 112,689 different New Yorkers – men, women and children – spent at least one night in New York City’s shelters. This number included 40,238 different children.
– In April 2012, an average of 17,247 homeless children slept each night in municipal shelters, and this year the number of homeless New York City children reached the highest level ever recorded.
– At least 3,262 more homeless individuals were counted living on the streets or in subways on January 20, 2012. The majority are in Manhattan. This count is 614 higher than the previous year Citywide.
– The large majority of street homeless New Yorkers are living with mental illness or other severe health problems.
– In a city of 8.4 million people, more than 36,000 homeless men, women and children sleep in homeless shelters and at least 3,200 more sleep on the streets and subways in the dead of winter. This means that 1 in every 215 New Yorkers is currently homeless.
Homelessness is a broad term that looks different for each person experiencing it. Homelessness is both the problem and the symptom of other problems that can range from chronic substance abuse, financial instability caused by unemployment or underemployment, mental illness, domestic violence, sexual victimization and more. Often, it is a complex set of circumstances, choices, and traumas that lead a person to homelessness. Recovery from homelessness, then, is what our President, Ed Morgan, calls “an affair of the heart.”
In other words, recovery must address the holistic needs of each individual – spiritual, emotional and physical.