CityHeart Moments

A CityHeart Moment–Can I talk to the Pastor?

Trisa came to the church office well after CityHeart had closed one afternoon. There was no one in the front office at the time, the staff were on a conference call and Trisa had wandered into the building and was in the front hallway looking for someone to talk to . . . I had come up from the CityHeart office to get documents from the printer and found her there. She signed in and then sat down to wait for some attention. Simultaneously a member from Eternal Joy passed through the front hall and asked if she needed help. I overheard the brief exchange as Trisa was asking to talk to “the pastor,” and I went over to see how I could assist.

Most visitors to the church office asking for “the pastor” usually end up at CityHeart, at this ministry we established long ago to connect with just such visitors, it’s why we’re here and it’s our mission to help!

Trisa spoke very quickly and was telling a story about her 91 year old aunt who had just died, and her cousin who was coming up from Florida for the funeral. She made it very clear that she was NOT asking for money. Then she started talking about Hurricane Michael, which had just ripped through Florida, and about the victims down there, and about taking up a collection of items for the victims. Again, she repeated she was not asking for cash, but more times than not, these stories usually end up in a need for a cash donation.

Trisa was really rambling on, not very clearly, she was emotional but seemed VERY sincere. I patiently listened and it was more than a few minutes before I was finally able to piece her story together. Aunt Wanda died in Florida and was being brought back to Dayton. Cousin Candi, who lives in Florida, will be in town for the funeral, and then will go back to Florida. Candi had come up with a memorial idea, in lieu of flowers, to collect feminine products and personal toiletry items for hurricane victims. She asked that they be placed into a women’s purse and brought to the funeral home, to be taken back for victims in her area.

Trisa says that it’s all in the obituary for Aunt Wanda, and we can check in the newspaper if we doubt her story. It was not really clear if she was asking the church for help because she couldn’t afford to put a donation together herself, or if she was just trying to get more donations for the collection . . . but she kept saying to check the obit, and even in this unlikely circumstance, I truly believed her story.

It really DID seem like a great idea, so I went down to the CityHeart office where we keep such things, and put together a bag full of toiletry items for her to take. When I came back up and handed her the bag, she was very happy with the donation! She was sure to have me include a business card for CityHeart and my own name, for the purpose of an acknowledgement. Very thoughtful.

But as is usually the case at CityHeart, we really don’t need or expect any acknowledgment other than the smile on her face, the hug we shared, and the understanding that God sees all, and rewards are in heaven!

Final note – a few days later I did remember to check the newspaper, and “bring a purse filled with items for hurricane victims” was noted just as she had said. God Bless Trisa, God Bless Candi, and their desire to honor Wanda’s life in this way, their reward is already in Heaven!

By Kris Sexton, Executive Director

October 2018

A CityHeart Moment – September 2018

A CityHeart Moment | Helping Children at Risk

Late on a Thursday afternoon the Intake person for CityHeart received a call from an elementary school counselor who was calling to see if we could help a family whose water had been turned OFF!

The school official explained that they had just become aware of the situation, and if not resolved right away, the school would be forced to report the situation to the Montgomery County Children’s Services. This action would put the children at risk of being removed from the home, and potentially cause the parent to lose her support for the housing.

CityHeart‘s growth has necessitated our normal response time to be within 24-48 hours, but our keen Intake volunteer recognized that this was an extreme case and immediately brought it to the attention of the Executive Director. With school dismissed and most organizations closed for the day, we promised to give the situation our full attention on Friday morning. The case was assigned to the Resource Specialist of the day who first spoke with the mother, then made a few phone calls, and quickly negotiated the payment of $142.00 to restore the water service to this household with six children before the end of day!

We learned that the financial problems started because an abusive relationship had existed there and the woman quit her job to stay home and protect her children from an ex-husband. We were very happy to know that someone in the school was aware of CityHeart services and that they reached out to call us just in time to avoid getting things caught up in a larger, more problematic scenario.

Once we had the immediate crisis under control, we realized that attention should also be given to the root cause of the emergency. CityHeart, working in collaboration, has ensured that the family will receive continued care from Catholic Social Services who specializes in this type of situation. Their “Neighbors helping Neighbors” program will work with the mother and children to secure the best possible resources for their emotional healing and long term stability.

 

Kris Sexton, September 2018

Meet CityHeart’s Resolution Specialist

Meet CityHeart’s Resolution Specialist – Anthony & friend

 

Denise was referred to CityHeart by volunteers at the Dayton Episcopal Food and Clothing Pantries. She lived in the neighborhood and had also visited St. Andrew’s for worship services. Denise came to Dayton to live in a home with her son and daughter-in-law but unfortunately the living situation was not working out. Denise is a senior citizen living on a fixed income and she wanted to search for other housing but was uncertain that she could afford to live alone. A major hurdle to the search process was Denise’s two cats. She is an animal lover and was concerned that she couldn’t have them in an apartment. She was adamant that she keep her cats.

Anthony was new to his position as Resolution Specialist at CityHeart. A position that was created to designate a volunteer who could take extra time in building trusted relationships with our clients presenting difficult circumstances and requiring follow up care. He was determined to find the best resolution for Denise.

Anthony met with Denise and began regular contact with her in the search for appropriate permanent housing. Our best referral was a nearby subsidized location for seniors that allowed the tenants to have one pet. Initially Denise found this option less than desirable, but reluctantly put her name on the waiting list. She didn’t know how she could choose between her two cats. Anthony persisted in his efforts and made contact with a local animal shelter that would take one of her cats, assuring her that it was a no-kill facility. This was a realistic solution that would meet her budget for housing. It was a stressful time for Denise and she struggled to make a decision when her name came to the top of the list for the next available apartment. With the care and compassion shown by Anthony, Denise was convinced that this apartment was the best choice for her to be independent. In the end, unable to choose, she made the decision to give up both cats, confident they would be placed into loving homes.

After moving to her new place, Denise became a neighbor to CityHeart and was very happy in her new home and surroundings. She was grateful for the attention and support she received from our ministry.

Kris Sexton    June 2018

Great things are happening at CityHeart in 2018!

New Funding! New Leadership! New Opportunities!

 

New Funding – $20,500 Grant from 100+ Women

CityHeart was VERY PLEASED to be the January 2018 recipient of a $20,500 Grant from the organization 100+ Women Who Care. CityHeart was well represented by Christ Church parishioners, a CityHeart board member, and other friends who are members of the Dayton chapter of this generous group of philanthropic women. The grant awarded will help to meet our increased demand for emergency assistance, engage in consultation for organizational strategic planning, purchase equipment, and begin Phase II office renovations. CityHeart has also partnered with “Party With A Purpose,” to hold our first happy hour fundraiser at the Dayton Beer Company on June 26, from 6-8 pm. Mark your calendars and bring a friend as we try to reach new people and bring awareness to the important work of CityHeart in our community. Follow this link for more information!

New Leadership 

At our Annual Meeting in March, the board elected Jane McGee-Rafal as our new board chair to replace The Rev. John Paddock. Jane has served on the CityHeart board since 2015, she is retired from a career in education, once serving as Superintendent of Dayton Public Schools. Jane is a resident of downtown Dayton, has served as a leader on many area boards, and is a long-time Episcopalian who worships at St. George’s Episcopal Church, one of CityHeart’s partner churches. Jane and Kris will work closely together, along with the full board to strategically plan for CityHeart’s future.

New Volunteer Position & Upcoming New Staff Position

CityHeart continues to grow in the number of client services we provide. Year-to-year statistics indicate we are experiencing 30-40% annual growth rate, resulting in a strain on CityHeart’s human resources.

Our Hospitality and Resource Specialists are at capacity each day working to meet immediate and emergency needs. The result has been less time available to address the comprehensive needs of our clients, many of which are the root causes of their emergencies. To ensure that we are fulfilling our mission to assist in connecting people to long-term solutions, we have added a new volunteer position, Resolution Specialist, filled by Christ Church parishioner Anthony Ehresmann. One full day each week Anthony does follow-up work with clients who have already received emergency assistance – working closely with them to identify next steps, making appropriate referrals to other organizations, and encouraging greater participation toward self-sufficiency in resolving their ongoing problems.

Later this summer, CityHeart will hire a part-time staff position for a Program Services Assistant. We have operated with just one staff person for many years, but as the organization has grown, the administrative demands of the Executive Director have gone beyond capacity. Although we have a tremendous volunteer staff, we require more continuity in front office operations. The added staff position will provide greater efficiency in the flow of daily program services as we strive towards our vision of being a primary center of hospitality in downtown Dayton.

New things and new times involve CHANGE! Please keep CityHeart in your prayers as we enter into a new phase of our organizational life and ministry in service to our neighbors in need.

Thanks for your support!  Kris Sexton, Executive Director                                                              (June 2018)

A CityHeart Moment, December 2017 by Kris Sexton

When were you there? You are HERE now, touching lives, and we thank you!

When did I?  Welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, clothe the naked, give rest to the weary, visit a prisoner, or sooth the suffering?

YOU have served “the least of these” if you have said a prayer, brought a gift, had a good thought, been a volunteer, or given to the financial support of CityHeart, directly or indirectly through your support of Christ Church.

YOU welcome the stranger and the “other” every day as we open our doors to our neighbors in the community.

YOU quench the thirst of many lonely souls like John and Robert, with a simple cup of coffee or water served with a smile.

YOU feed the hungry like David and Tina with fresh fruit and a granola bar, a sack lunch, or a bus token to get to the nearest hot meal site or food pantry.

YOU clothe the naked like Anthony and Clayton who received coats in early October during a cold snap, or the many who will be thankful for hats, gloves and socks this holiday season and winter.

YOU give rest to the weary when folks on the fringe like Dorothy and Leland need a place to seek respite from the streets – to use the restroom & phone, to receive some referrals, or just to engage in conversation.

YOU visit with the prisoner when we assist the homebound and disabled over the phone, or speak with the mentally ill, imprisoned in their own bodies.

YOU soothe the suffering each time we listen with a caring heart and  compassionate response with emergency help for those in crisis, like Robyn, Keith and the Johnson family.

CityHeart is YOUR ministry! In this season of giving, those of us who serve day to day as your hands and feet and HEART in this world, are especially thankful for all that YOU give.

TOGETHER we touch the lives of hundreds of people each month who might not otherwise know or experience the Love of God. THANK YOU!

Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

May the spirit of the season – Peace, Love, Joy and HOPE be with you always!

Getting Off the Streets    September 2017  by Kris Sexton

Alan first came to CityHeart during the cold winter months. Like many others, he most likely came in just to get out of the cold for a little while. A hot cup of coffee, a friendly greeting and a healthy snack certainly go a long way toward making lasting friends here at CityHeart.

At first we weren’t sure if he was housed or unsheltered. Many people living on the streets don’t really like to talk about their situations, and so we often wait for the right timing to open up that conversation. Alan initially indicated that he was not homeless, but after days turned into weeks and the frequency of his visits increased, he acknowledged that he was sleeping in an abandoned garage.

We talked about using the St. Vincent Gateway shelter for men. He was clear about the fact that he did not want to go there. Many men don’t like the shelter but will go when it gets really cold outside. So we also talked about other options that could hopefully get him out of a garage, a place unfit for habitation. The PATH program of Miami Valley Housing Opportunities was probably his best option. They work with street homeless, usually suffering from mental illness and/or substance abuse. Alan was very hesitant of what would be required of him if he were to meet with one of their outreach workers.

Alan was a shy and gentle young man, soft spoken and very respectful of all of our volunteers and other visitors. Someone had raised him right and taught him some manners. But you could sense there was something just under the surface, causing him great inner struggle. A condition that eventually, many months later, he named as schizophrenia. It is quite sad to see young people like this who don’t understand what is happening to their own bodies and minds. Undiagnosed and untreated. Unable to function in a shelter, in a job or in other stressful environments.

With CityHeart’s help and encouragement he began working with the folks at PATH. As they built a trusted relationship, he was compliant with their requests and in agreement with the goals of his plan of treatment and action.

The chill of winter gave way to the warmer months of spring and then summer, and finally after a long time on the wait list, Alan came in and proudly told us he was getting off the streets. He would be signing the lease for his new apartment and moving to a supportive housing program. He wanted to report his “new” address and thank us for all we had done to help him along this journey. How happy we were to hear Alan’s good news and know he will be off the street for the upcoming winter.

We are now entering the time of year when CityHeart gives special attention to some of our new friends that may be unsheltered. We will attempt to begin the difficult conversations around housing and mental health. Please be mindful of these neighbors – for courage to explore their options, for strength to overcome their obstacles, and for patience to those who will care for them.

Why so many “street homeless?” A story of making connections for one young man

We recently received a desperate call from a father “Bob,” who was calling on behalf of his son, “Jake.” He asked how to find the CityHeart office. They were downtown and had just been referred to us by Goodwill Easter Seals. They arrived shortly thereafter.

Jake is a homeless young man in his mid-twenties, who has been living on the streets for years. His dad, Bob, is trying to help Jake find housing resources today. The situation between father and son seemed very tense. In talking with them, I learned that Jake has been out of the family home for years and was permanently banned from the Gateway Men’s Homeless Shelter. This was due to an incident that occurred back in 2015. He has been homeless “on the street” ever since.

Our first option when talking with the “street homeless” is to explore the potential reasons for why they are not staying at the shelter. There are a few main reasons; they are banned, they are convicted sex offender, they are mentally ill or they simply do not want to abide by shelter policies. The first two of these reasons are imposed by the shelter system and therefore these individuals are not eligible to stay or receive services. The most common reasons people do not choose to access the homeless shelters and the services they provide are those who suffer from mental illness who either cannot function in this large institutional environment, or struggle to abide by shelter policies because they are not receiving proper treatment for their illness.

The alternative is to work with the PATH program of Miami Valley Housing Opportunities whose mission it is to work with the population of “street homeless.” They work to get people with drug, alcohol, and mental illness into treatment, under case management and back into permanent housing

I cautiously talked Bob and Jake about the MVHO program PATH, and explained a little about this street outreach program.  I indicated the type of homeless folks they specialize in working with, such as people struggling with mental health and substance abuse, particularly chronically homeless individuals.

Bob acknowledged that the program is probably just what his son Jake needs, although Jake emphatically stated he is not abusing drugs. Unfortunately Jake has worn out his welcome at home and is not allowed to stay there. I explained that CityHeart helps to connect the street homeless with the PATH representatives, and they could meet with him here, possibly still that day. When I offered to make the call Jake hesitated but his dad Bob was very interested in trying to make an immediate connection.  We agreed that if Jake is WILLING to talk with them, it might be VERY helpful to do that while his dad is here, and the people from PATH will know that there is some level of family support. Jake agreed that he was willing to have the conversation.

I made the call to PATH and they sent a representative to CityHeart to meet with father and son. While we waited, Jake stepped outside and Bob shared that his son has been non-compliant with medication for a long time. He says he doesn’t go back on the psyche meds.  I tried to ease the situation by telling a story of another young man who had lived in a garage most of this past winter. He met with PATH here at CityHeart a couple of months ago. After much deliberation that young man finally made the decision to work with the organization to change his situation and his life. I’m not sure if the story made Jake feel any better in the moment, but I do know that Bob certainly appreciated there IS HOPE for his son.

When the outreach worker from PATH arrived I left them in our private office, where they talked for about 30 minutes. Upon their departure I shook Jake’s hand, let him know he is welcome here and invited him to come back anytime for coffee and snacks, to get information or referrals, or simply to talk. I gave Bob a CityHeart brochure and my business card. Bob called back the next day to say how much he appreciated the care and concern that we showed for their situation, and he is very hopeful things will work out!

A CityHeart Moment . . . Daryl’s Story

by Kris Sexton

One of our volunteers, Nancy Diggs, recently interviewed some of the people who have received help from CityHeart to get their feedback on our program and services.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I would like to share their stories. The first one comes from Daryl, a kind and gentle soul, who visits us frequently and has a smile that brightens every day. He agreed to share his story which starts following a rough period in his life, just after he spent time in a behavioral health facility . . .

How did you learn about CityHeart?

“Through my case manager.”

Why did you come to CityHeart….?

“I had just been released from Cincinnati’s summit program. My case manager was with me, and I didn’t have any funds.  I didn’t have anything, I was homeless and he called Kris and they said they would give me money [a check to purchase] my birth certificate.”

Were you greeted with kindness…..?

“Yes, I was . . . and then I asked Kris did they have a meeting? I had walked past this church for quite some time and she said ‘Yes, they have AA meetings next door.’ And she told me what time they start and what time to get there, and I’ve been coming ever since.”

So CityHeart was able to help you with what you needed…..Did that work out OK for you then?

Yes, ma’am. I was taken care of very well. I’m very appreciative—to make a long story short, it kind of like saved me from being homeless again. When I got the birth certificate I went on and got my I.D. and I’ve been coming back for coffee every morning. There’s always somebody here to greet you and ask you what you need. And I come back two times for the meeting—I call it working my program. Without (CityHeart) telling me about the AA, I would probably be homeless by now, yes I would, yes I would ‘cause I’m an alcoholic. I’ve got four years in and I’ve been coming to CityHeart and I haven’t had no problems since then . . . and anything I needed like some gloves or a hat to keep me warm, they supplied me with that.

We try to reflect the spirit of Jesus… Do you think we did that?

Yes, I do. I get here earlier in the morning, and there’s always somebody here, and as a matter of fact, I asked them to pray for my health, and I went to the doctor yesterday. I see two different doctors about my arthritis and I was also diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic, and the good Lord – and I asked Kris if she would pray for me, and I had no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, and I’m going to try to stop smoking. I keep coming back!

I think if they didn’t have a spiritual (component to the) program that it would defeat the whole purpose. A guy came into the meeting—he had to be about 79 or 80 years old and didn’t nobody catch on, but I did, and he said the whole point of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it leads you back to God. I seen people come in here that they (CityHeart) helped and they didn’t have no place left to go. One guy I know was a little bit out of it—and I asked prayers for him, and I seen a spiritual improvement with him.”

What impressed you most…?  “The hospitality.”

Would you feel welcome to return…?   “Anytime, yes, ma’am.

Any other comments…?   “Keep the program going, keep it going.”

Final Note: The AA Meeting takes place across the hall from the CityHeart office each weekday at noon. CityHeart closes for lunch and leaves the area to respect the anonymity of those we don’t already know. When CityHeart staff returns to our offices after lunch each day, we often hear the final moments of the AA meeting, the recital of The Lord’s Prayer followed by the mantra, “Keep coming back, it works, if you work it!  God bless Daryl for “working it” now for four years!

You do not know what tomorrow will bring . . .

January 2017 – by Kris Sexton

As the holiday season comes to an end we are encouraged by the coming of a New Year. Beginning at Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas many of us reflect on how we have been blessed, and remember the people who give meaning to our lives. As the world moves from one tragedy to another – social media, Christmas cards and letters remind us to “hug our loved ones a little tighter” and to be present in the moments of each and every day. For both the world and the bible tell us “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” (James 4:14)

This is true for MANY of our CityHeart clients whose circumstances can often change overnight. CityHeart is much more than a place for the homeless men and street people that you immediately think of when you consider the folks who visit CityHeart. Many hard working people living relatively “normal” lives are one situation away from crisis on any given day. This is true of two families that recently found help and hope at CityHeart. Both are single working mothers in their twenties. Both have two children they are caring for and raising alone. Both faced emergency utility situations during the Arctic blast that came through the area in December.

Jodie lives on the east side of Dayton and worked at the Red Robin restaurant in Beavercreek that had a fire in November and closed down during renovation. Although they tried to place some of the employees at other locations, the hours were few and Jodie’s bills were piling up. Her family is helping as much as possible. She has never before asked for any public assistance but under these circumstances has been forced to apply for unemployment, food stamps and cash assistance. The applications were in process but help would not come before the bills were due to be paid. CityHeart was able to offer half of what was owed to Vectren to keep the heat on in her apartment. CityHeart is one of three emergency assistance organizations, but due to strict zip code requirements and availability of funds, Jodie could not get help from other organizations. She called back to CityHeart two days later and reported that after calling 19 other churches, she finally got help to pay the other half of her bill. We successfully averted her disconnection of service and kept Jodie from falling through the cracks of the system.

Unfortunately, Karen who lives and works in Trotwood was not so lucky. She struggles from paycheck to paycheck, and lives in an apartment paying market rate rent. Completely unaware of any resources for emergency assistance, her heat and electric were turned off before she considered that help might be available. She paid the rent but spent two nights in the cold with her children before calling CityHeart. Karen works at a local day care center, earning only $8.50 an hour. She has no benefits, no health insurance, no sick leave, and no paid time off of any kind. Because she was the last person hired, when the attendance is down at the center, she is the first employee sent home. When you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Karen does work hard and tries to make ends meet, but these circumstances are very common and make life difficult for low income workers. Once she decided to ask around for help, she learned of CityHeart as a resource, and with our help she was connected to both the Salvation Army and St. Vincent DePaul for help as well. It took all three organizations but we quickly had her heat back on and her electric service restored.

You do not know what tomorrow will bring . . . freezing temperatures, loss of employment, health problems, accidents, car repair, household emergency, unforeseen crisis . . . these stories could be about you, or me, or our loved ones, or our neighbors. We all have a story, and we need to be mindful and present to those around us who are struggling.

Whatever tomorrow brings – CityHeart will be here doing our best to provide hospitality, information, referral services, emergency assistance and HOPE to people in need.

We couldn’t do it without your help. Thanks to all of our supporters who enable this mission to continue day by day, week by week, and year by year.

From the staff, volunteers, board and friends of CityHeart, Have a Blessed and Happy New Year!

Happy Birthday and Simple Gifts

On a recent morning “Mary” and her daughter “Jennifer” arrived at CityHeart looking for some help. A divorced, hard working mom, Mary had the look of a parent barely holding back the emo ons of her distress. Her smiling young daughter, with pony‐tail bouncing, seemed quite happy as we walked up the hall to talk in a private space.

Mary told me she had no power at home, her electric service was turned off the day before. A single parent now, Mary is juggling household expenses trying to stay afloat. She has never needed to ask for help before and had no idea where to start, unknowingly wai ng un l a er the service was off to consider that there may be assistance available. I gently explained that CityHeart and other organiza ons most commonly work with people prior to disconnec on. We try to avert loss of service and addi onal fees of reconnec on. I learned that with usage and fees she needed a total of $400.

Mary explained that she normally pays on me and just had too many expenses and got behind, then with the start of school she was simply overwhelmed. Mary had a por on of the amount owed and she had just been referred to CityHeart from Catholic Social Services, who offered her a sizable pledge. They take very few such cases, and she is lucky for the help. They will follow up with her to give counsel and help her stay on track. CityHeart offered to pay the balance to get the electric service turned back on right away. We also discussed various resources should she need addi onal assistance in the future. Mary was ecsta c by our response, apprecia ve for the referral informa on, and humbled by those who stepped out in faith to help her that day.

And then, in the midst of our conversa on, li le Jennifer who had been quietly playing with her mom’s phone, looked up at me and exclaimed, “Today is my birthday!” And I replied “Happy Birthday Jennifer!” With the innocence of a child, unaware of their situa on, and a mom’s deep relief, it was a happy birthday indeed.

                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few days later, another friend of CityHeart, “Be y” came asking if we could get her a bike lock. This was an unusual request for someone who lived around the corner and came mostly for coffee, snacks and a friendly gree ng. When I asked why she needed it I learned that she had been evicted from her subsidized senior apartment. Be y told me they would be “pu ng out her stuff” in two days and she didn’t want to lose her bike, she needed a lock to secure it. I contacted the on‐site social worker at her property and found out that financial assistance wouldn’t resolve the evic on situa on, there were other circumstances involved and no way to stop the ac on.

I was immediately concerned about her imminent homelessness, but apparently Be y was more concerned about the bike. I realized that her bike was probably the most valuable thing Be y owned and it was important that it not get stolen. In fact, the reality of her situa on was that Be y would most likely lose the rest of her belongings, whatever she could not carry or cart away. We discussed possibili es of places to stay and storage op ons. I asked if there was anyone who could help, and Be y was going to check in with a friend and come back tomorrow.

The next day I brought in a brand new bike lock, one with an easy to remember combina on and no key to lose. When Be y returned she said she could take some of her belongings to her friend’s place but she couldn’t stay there. I encouraged her to go to the local women’s shelter temporarily. She had been there before and didn’t like it but will try again. Because Be y has an income and is a senior ci zen, I explained that just a few days in the shelter can make her eligible for assistance from an organiza on that can likely place her into other housing soon. She will need to have a valid Ohio ID card, so I asked if her ID was expired or current. She thought it was current so but wasn’t sure, she said it would expire on her birthday either this year or next. To be certain she would have this for housing applica on, I asked if I could see the ID. Be y pulled it out of her pocket and when I checked, I saw that it was her birthday, that day – and so in that moment I reached behind me and brought out the bike lock, handed it to her, and said “Happy Birthday Be y!”

Unaware that it was her own birthday, she broke into a great big smile and was happy to receive that simple bike lock. It wasn’t what I would consider the most important thing, but it was what she really wanted. So we will con nue to follow her progress, pray for her welfare, and encourage her to move forward with a willingness to receive the help she needs.

It was a Week of Birthday Blessings from CityHeart – Amen!

A Glorious Unfolding

“Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”                                                                               Jeremiah 29:10

Sad stories abound at CityHeart. Our desire is to give help and hope in unfortunate circumstances. In fact, we serve so many hurting people, that sometimes just when we think we simply cannot bear to hear another sad story, along comes a glorious encounter that restores the soul. Such was the recent encounter with a spirit-filled man named Joe Glorioso!

Yes, that is his real name and he is a man who faces real challenges. The day Joe came to CityHeart he was inquiring about the 12-step meeting that Christ Episcopal hosts across the hall from the CityHeart offices. Joe and I began a conversation in which he shared that he came to Dayton to participate in an addiction recovery program at the Adult Rehabilitation Center of the Salvation Army. I told him that I was well aware of the program, a long-term 9-12 month, faith-based residential program that helps individuals overcome the obstacles to their recovery.

Our conversation ensued during which I shared a life story of my own to ease his comfort level and he was forthcoming in acknowledging his struggle with addiction. I expressed that I was genuinely glad to hear that he was taking responsibility to turn his own life around. Without going into details, I can say that we were clearly making a connection. We both knew instinctively that Joe had come to the right place at the right time and it was no accident.

Joe attended the 12-step meeting and came back to our office afterwards. He had questions about the Dayton area and how to get around. We showed him a map of the city and how the RTA routes worked. We gave him a bus token to get back to the rehab center because he had walked a long way on a bad leg. He was so surprised at the warm welcome and unconditional attention that he received at CityHeart. He ever so graciously spoke from the scripture about the idea of “entertaining angels unknowingly,” and he was referring to CityHeart as the angels. But then I countered his assessment and pronounced that he was the real angel, with such a positive attitude on his road to recovery. He was full of hope; a true inspiration to us at CityHeart, this man named Joe Glorioso, who crossed our path one Friday noon. The light in his eyes and playful smile exuded a joyfulness that was glorious!

We agreed that what we had experienced was a glorious encounter. One that was beyond the control of either of us, an encounter that for believers, was not really so surprising after all. This reminded me of a song by the Christian artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, called “The Glorious Unfolding.” The song affirms that God has plans for all people and desires to keep the promise of the glory that will be revealed to us – that for now “we see dimly in a mirror, and then we will see face to face.”

I believe that if we allow our eyes and our hearts and our minds to be open to these revelations, we can clearly see “face to face” right now and experience a glorious unfolding, just when we need it the most. When we are down or weary, hurting or afraid, let’s be mindful to look for the glory in the ordinary.

 

“Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”                                                                                                                 Isaiah 40:5

In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion . . . the storms of life at CityHeart

In early March CityHeart prepared for implementation of a new database system that had been a long-time coming. With Christ Church parishioner Tom Cruse acting as volunteer liaison, we purchased an affordable product, contracted a local developer and designed a system that is customized for use at CityHeart. As exciting as the advantages of this new system are, by mid-month we began the daunting process of learning all the nuances of using a different system after ten years. The process is slow and deliberate as we work to ensure that our client information is complete and accurate.

During this time there seemed to be a decrease in demand for CityHeart services, walk-ins and calls were fewer than normal and we wondered why? There was no explanation . . . but in hindsight, it was the calm before the storm! When activity picked up later in March we were fully in the throes of change and client intake forms have been piling up ever since. But that mound of paperwork represents the people who have been faithfully served by CityHeart. Late this week, after spending nearly two hours with one visitor, I was reminded that it is the people we are here to serve that are the priority at CityHeart. The storms of life descend particularly on the most vulnerable. As I write this article on a snowy April morning I recall this week’s  storms.

Danny has been in and out of the homeless shelter for many years. He currently lives in a run-down apartment house on the fringe of downtown that will accept any tenant who can pay the rent, no questions asked. He has suffered medical issues as long as we have known him and receives a modest Social Security income. Unfortunately he was robbed of his rent money when taking cash from a walk-up ATM after dark. We are working with another downtown church to negotiate with the landlord to see what amount will be accepted to keep him from being evicted this month.

Melinda also lives downtown. Her relationship has become abusive and she desires to move into a separate apartment from her boyfriend. The rental office of this large property has a unit available for her but even though she has lived there for eight years, she must pay a nominal deposit in addition to the rent. Although we don’t normally help with deposits, we offered a pledge under these circumstances and the rental office agreed to accept that amount.

Ken has multiple needs that flowed out over the course of our conversation. He describes himself as “stuck” and talked about being depressed since his dad died. He lost his work with a temp agency because his van is broken down – no money, no repair. There are no utilities on at the house he inherited from his dad. We will do what we can to work with him one step at a time, one goal at a time, to set his life back on track. First things first, apply for his birth certificate from Nevada. Then see if we can help him get “un-stuck” by exploring mental healthcare options, housing, and utilities.

Elaine called on behalf of her sister who is a victim of elder abuse. Her son steals and threatens and she refuses to press charges or get a restraining order. After all, this is her own son. Elaine is moving her sister to a new, secure apartment building where she works as a home health aide to many tenants. She will be able to check-in on her sister daily. Since the son stole money from her April retirement benefits, Elaine is trying to put together enough for the move. CityHeart offered to help and also referred her to another resource.

Richard has recently been put out of the homeless shelter. This occured due to some form of non-compliance with the rules. This is not Richard’s first round of homelessness. He was a resident of the shelter when we first met. He is an alcoholic who frequents both CityHeart and the AA 12-Step meeting hosted here six days a week. He falls into the category that the Montgomery County’s Homeless Solutions board would qualify as chronically homeless. We offer him hospitality, respite, and encouragement to stay clean while he sleeps on couches and waits to re-enter the shelter.

Tammy is in need of help with her DP&L bill to keep service on for herself and her three children. She lost her job due to illness and hospitalization. She will be starting a new job this week. We pledged support for her DP&L and offered other emergency assistance resources that help to accommodate the total she needs to stop the disconnection.

These examples are a continual reminder that real people are uprooted from the calm of their routine to the storm of instability. They face real challenges that cause temporary hardships. These are the people we are called to serve with extreme hospitality. All people are welcome. All people are worthy. All people have a place at CityHeart.    

THE INVALUABLE GIFT OF TIME AND RESOURCES

BY KRIS SEXTON / NOVEMBER 2015
This story represents that as CityHeart expands our volunteer base, we also expand the combined skills, knowledge and expertise of our ministry.

We are pleased to have welcomed our parish nurse as a CityHeart volunteer a few months ago and we are keeping an open mind on how her skills might impact the ministry. We have discussed the possibility of health screenings at CityHeart, but getting to know the daily operations and the people we serve is a critical first step in the process. In the short term, individual visitors are benefiting from Nancy’s presence and skill as the following example demonstrates the invaluable gift of time and sharing of resources.

Ryan came to CityHeart on a recent Monday morning and asked if we could help with a prescription. CityHeart can and will help to purchase a prescription or offer to help with co-pay if needed. But this situation would prove to be a great learning experience for our newer volunteer who is training to be a Resource Specialist. We begin by verifying if the client can be served by an existing local program. We know of at least two possible resource options for people who are homeless and/or un-insured needing health and pharmaceutical care in Dayton.

In listening to Ryan’s story, we learned he was just released from Miami Valley Hospital and has a blood clot, and was given a written prescription for a blood thinner. He quietly stated that he is homeless and has no money to pay for the medicine. He indicated he is staying at the Gateway homeless shelter.

First we asked if he had ever used the Samaritan Homeless Clinic and Ryan replied that he can’t go there because he doesn’t have a case manager. This was an incorrect assumption, but Ryan was confused, possibly developmentally delayed, and is not fully aware of his options. It is uncanny how so many people like Ryan who are confused or mentally ill – who have difficulty knowing what to do or where to turn for help – find their way to CityHeart tucked away in the basement of Christ Church. We believe it’s a God thing!
So we explained that the Samaritan clinic provides ongoing treatment for homeless persons and can usually prepare their prescriptions on-site, with transportation from the shelter provided. We also suggested that he could possibly have the prescription filled at the Reach-Out Pharmacy that offers both a clinic and prescription assistance for low-income and un-insured persons. Ryan agreed that we could make some contacts on his behalf.

Our health-minded volunteer confidently jumped into action and began checking the resource information we have on-hand in our office. Next she verified information on the respective clinic websites in attempting to determine the best course of action for Ryan. After making some phone calls, she confirmed that his prescription was unfortunately not on the formulary at Reach-Out Pharmacy. A new and different prescription would need to be written for them to serve Ryan. Since he came from the ER this did not seem like the best option.

In speaking with the people at Samaritan Homeless Clinic, the CityHeart volunteer found they were very interested in serving Ryan and asked if he could come in that afternoon. We verified he did not need a case manager to receive services. The CityHeart volunteer then carefully explained to Ryan what she had found out and he agreed to go. She gave him directions and a bus token to get to the clinic. She explained that a transport van makes two round-trips daily between the Gateway shelter and the homeless clinic. Samaritan would be able to fill his prescription and provide follow-up care as necessary. Ryan would get a ride back to the shelter in the late afternoon. Ryan was very appreciative for our help, happy to have a plan, and grateful that someone who took the time to care.

By capably and compassionately responding to Ryan’s immediate need, this new volunteer learned first-hand some of the resources that are available in the community. This type of on-the-job “training” that a Resource Specialist volunteer receives at CityHeart occurs on a daily basis. The situations may be different but the same lesson applies. We simply learn by doing and then we share what we have learned with those who need our help.

If you have compassion for others, a willingness to learn, and the aptitude to search potential resources, you too can become a CityHeart Resource Specialist! Step out in faith and use your talents to serve others through CityHeart.

For more information on volunteering as a Resource Specialist or greeting visitors as a hospitality and Intake Specialist, please email CityHeart .directorg