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Posted: November 14, 2010 12:00 a.m.

Hard times call for joint efforts

Yes, it’s bad out there. People are hurting. Families are in crisis. No job, no home, no food. On a recent Monday, the clients’ waiting room at the Community Food Pantry was standing-room only. FaithWorks just next door has cut its days of operation back due to the lack of financial resources to help more folks with rent and utilities.

In our area, the homeless have only one option: The Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter off Turner Lake Road, which houses about 70 men, women and children. It accepts homeless from five counties who arrive regularly either by their own transportation or in the back of a police car. I’ve seen the hollowed look on the faces of the newly-homeless and it is haunting.

But the homeless shelter is in a terrible financial mess. It is tens-of-thousands of dollars in arrears in rent and utilities. The donations are just not enough to support this ministry. That money is owed, in part, to the Covington Housing Authority which owns the buildings that house the shelter. Can we expect the Housing Authority to continue to, in essence, subsidize the shelter with government funds?

So, what to do? Let me suggest a remedy that would take a united effort by the churches in the five counties that send their homeless here.

Some years ago when FaithWorks was in its infancy, Gil Gainer and others at Covington First Methodist Church organized a dinner and auction at Eastside High School to raise funds for FaithWorks. That event raised more than $30,000.

Imagine this: FaithWorks in Newton County, Faith In Serving Humanity (a ministry like FaithWorks) in Walton County, St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rockdale County (which has a very active ministry to the poor) and the large churches in Morgan and Butts counties organize a dinner and auction on the same night in each of the five counties, with all funds raised going to the Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter.

To me, that’s the right response, the appropriate action and the obvious responders to the need.

One night, focused on one mission in five counties joined together by Christian churches doing what must be done, caring for the least among us.

 

Bob Furnad is a Covington resident and former president of CNN Healine News.

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