To be a presence of our church to the homeless and impoverished in the heart of Chicago
The homeless ministry at the First United Methodist Church provides many services to the indigent people of Chicago including serving meals, the distribution of clothing, and other social services such as legal aid and medical care. Along with helping with these immediate needs we provide a spiritual ministry each Saturday morning.
At the heart of this vibrant ministry are hundreds of hours of voluntary service each week and the generous contributions of money, food, clothing. Our volunteers are persons that attend the Chicago Temple and other area churches, as well as student groups and people in the community who are not affiliated with any specific group. We are always looking for new volunteers to help our ministry during the week and on Saturday mornings. See the “Volunteering” section below for information on how to get involved.
Every Saturday morning we serve a meal to 140-170 men and women at Grace Place located at 637 S. Dearborn in the Printer’s Row neighborhood. See the “Volunteering” section below for information on how to get involved.
Each Saturday we need approximately 15-20 volunteers at Grace Place to help with registering guests, preparing and serving meals, set-up, clothing distribution, and clean up. Our ministry is a great community of volunteers and guests. We are always striving to grow our volunteer group and welcome others into this amazing organization.
We also need volunteers to help during the week with cooking, donation pick-ups, clothing organization and driving on Saturdays.
Prior to Saturdays, volunteers with cars pickup food donations from area establishments (including Trader Joes, Au Bon Pain, and Panera) and bring it all to the church. Volunteer cooks prepare part of the meal during the week at the Chicago Temple.
On Saturdays, volunteer drivers transport the food, certain supplies and clothing donations from the Chicago Temple to Grace Place to set everything up for the breakfast which welcomes guests between 8:30 until 11 a.m.
Speakers, Special Guests and Social Services
A group of volunteers start each morning with a quick and special time of worship and reflections on encouraging hope and a sense of purpose for our guests. Time is spent with guests with special needs to help them put their lives together by establishing an address, getting Social Security cards, etc. and help in directing them to Government agencies or specific organizations for available assistance.
One goal of the ministry is to educate and provide cultural enrichment for our guests. We have had guest speakers to the ministry to educate our guests about their legal rights when arrested, as well as special entertainment, such as singing groups. Any person or group who is interested in the problems of homelessness or would like to entertain our guests is welcome.
We also have a deep interest in developing partnerships with other agencies who can provide special services to our guests or can expand our capabilities in areas for which we already provide services. We are presently working on a partnership with DePaul University Law School to provide limited legal services, and Heartland Alliance.
If you have information about a speaker, entertainment, or a group to work with our ministry, please contact our volunteer coordinator.
At current rates of expenditure, our total costs of $43,150 for 2012. With the exception of the Grace Place rent, these costs are met entirely by the generous donations of Temple members and friends. Over $10,000 of these funds are spent on providing clothing to our guests. This is in addition to the many clothing donations we receive. We are serving an average of about 185 guests per week, with several weeks approaching 200. We have well over 100 volunteers helping in different capacities, in addition to a committee of nine who make the executive decisions. The DePaul Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project, which partners with us by providing legal services to our guests, sees between 9 and 14 people every other week, and Heartland Alliance volunteers provide basic medical care to our guests.
MAKE A DONATION
Donations of clothing and personal items
Donations of clothing and personal items are always needed and welcome. We prefer if you drop them by Grace Place on Saturday mornings, but you can also leave small donations in the church office throughout the week.
Most needed clothing items: Gently used jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, gym shoes, boots, and backpacks. In winter we need long-johns, coats, and gloves. Socks and underwear are purchased new. We are always in need of larger sizes. You may donate these items in a package or, possibly better, donate the money for their purchase.
Most needed personal items: New toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, hand towels, moisturizer/lotion, baby powder, and razors for shaving. Hotel and travel sizes are great.
Donation of food items
Each week a volunteer delivers 12-15 dozen eggs to the Temple to be hard-boiled for the Saturday morning meal. Eggs are an important source of protein for our guests. If you are interested in joining the Egg Donation Rotation, see the “Volunteering” section below for information on how to get involved.
One-time donations are also welcome such as turkeys at the holidays and other healthy, nutritious options. Donations of food staples (such as canned goods, vegetables, meats, fruits, pasta, and soups) are welcome and then distributed to needy guests who have cooking facilities but insufficient funds for needed food.
Donations of money
The Homeless Ministry costs around $35,000 per year in cash to run. A little less than a third of the amount is spent on rent for the premises at Grace Place. Most of the rest of this money goes to purchase food and clothing for our guests. This works out to about $4.58 per guest per week, which is pretty economical considering that they receive a hot and cold breakfast and brunch as well as eggs, fruit, and pastries. In addition this covers the cost of providing our guests with clean underwear and socks, as well as shoes from Soles 4 Souls, for which we pay only the shipping costs.
The vast majority of these moneys are donated by Chicago Temple members and friends. Approximately $10,000 comes from the Temple operating budget. We also receive occasional donations from outside sources, but these represent a small portion of our total. This amount does not include the value of donation or the value of the time put in by volunteers and committee members, both of which would multiply that figure many times.
Our Ministry is run by a group of very dedicated volunteers. If you have any general questions or concerns, or questions specific to volunteering, please contact ourvolunteer coordinator.
You can also reach out to the church office (312-236-4548) for any immediate questions.
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Select Photography by John H. White