By Deb Purcell
Our partnership with Joppa to help the homeless in the local metro area is coming together! Within the last two weeks, 35 St. Boniface parishioners made a Camp Experience Tour. We visited the Joppa Center, listened to the founder of Joppa explain the ways they reach out to the homeless and what their plans are for the future, and learned who we would be visiting out in the camps that night.
First, we toured the Joppa Center, saw how they store blankets, sleeping bags, tents, socks, and food. We saw the carts designated for the Sunday delivery routes to the camps and to those recently placed in housing. (Volunteers arrive on Sunday, find the cart for their route, load up their vehicles, then bring the items, a hot meal, and a caring heart to those in need.)
We then drove to a homeless camp site. After parking our cars, we walked into the woods through a narrow path. We were introduced to some of the campers who not only welcomed us but shared their stories with us. We saw how they rig their tents, tarps, and whatever else they can find to provide shelter from the weather, how they cook their food, and heard the challenges they face from day to day. When darkness set in, we said our good-byes and used our flashlights to light our path back through the woods and up the wobbly, makeshift steps wedged against the soil.
Despite the rough conditions and the hardships they face, these campers have a relationship with Joppa and are so very grateful for the care and compassion they receive from them. Joppa knows them by name. This reminds me of a verse from a Carey Landry church song “…By name I have called you, by name I have saved you, by name you are mine, you are precious to me…”
View the photos taken by Chuck and Sheila Rayburn. There are two albums to view. With respect for the campers, photos were only taken when we had their permission.
Our core leadership team is forming now. Soon we will be identifying the specific areas of Joppa to which the St. Boniface community can best intersect and team up with them.
If you are interested in being involved in our partnership with Joppa but haven’t expressed your interest yet, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the parish office at 515-987-4597 and ask for Deb Purcell. Once on this list you will receive email updates, meeting notices, and information on opportunities.
“Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha. She was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.” –Acts 9:36