Have you ever felt that need on cold nights to snuggle in your bed under the warm blankets? Have you ever been grateful to have that opportunity? Have your thoughts ever been on those less fortunate, those that don’t have a hot meal, warm blankets, or even a bed? There are volunteer opportunities for you to help others survive the cold nights.
St. Paul’s Outreach has made our Parishioners aware of a local organization that provides those meals, beds and warm blankets. Please allow me to give you a first hand view of this small volunteer organization, called NEST, because they indeed make a big difference in our community for those homeless people during freezing temperatures. The Newnan Emergency Shelter Team was started by the Newnan City Church (Methodist), which has a small church space, next door to Bridging the Gap. This church is filled with many members with huge hearts. Here is a more detailed description of volunteering for a shift at NEST.
There are single Aerobeds, sheets, mattress pads, blankets, pillows, and pillow cases that have either been donated by businesses, or collected from the Newnan community. These 20+ beds (as needed) are placed in the small sanctuary of Newnan City Church after a team of people move out all the chairs used for their services. There are teams to register guests, take temps, and issue masks, volunteers that bring in dinner, teams of men and women that split shifts spending the night, a team that serves breakfast, and breaks down the beds. Another team removes the linens to be laundered, and straightens up the church area. There is a sign up for each of the “duties”, and it is done on a daily basis when NEST is open. Organization is key, and NEST excels in that area. On some occasions, when the weather turns quickly, Newnan City Church will transport and pay for people to stay at the Red Roof Inn at the Moreland exit and issue Waffle House gift cards. This can be expensive, depending on the number of guests, however, their mission is to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”.
The opportunities to meet other community and church volunteers, to share time with those who need our time and attention, and to learn more about the vital ministries of Newnan City Church has been such a blessing in my life. We, at St. Paul’s, expressed many times a desire to help with the homelessness in the downtown area of Newnan. Here is a small Methodist church downtown (only in its structure, it has grown to 3 services on Sundays), that began a program we so dreamed of doing. All we need to do now is step up and volunteer for a team job, on a late afternoon, or evening with freezing temps, that will make a difference in lives and show our community that St. Paul’s is indeed part of the community.
Although Covid is always a concern, I have found that interaction with others at a distance with a mandatory mask rule creates a safe space. Cleanliness is a priority. Please consider volunteering and email Joshua Wieda, St. Paul’s community outreach coordinator; he will forward the sign-up opportunities when NEST is activated for freezing temperatures. If you aren’t comfortable volunteering, a cash donation is always needed and welcomed! Just send it to Newnan City Church, 17 1st Avenue, Newnan 30263, and specify NEST.
Maybe we can work as a team one cold evening. ~ Jane Murdock, St. Paul’s Parishioner and Community Volunteer