Mar. 29, 2013
Community Contact Information:
- Help a family as they transitioned from homelessness to permanent housing.
- Involve members of our congregation across generations -- youth to seniors.
- Build a meaningful relationship with Heading Home, Inc, with whom we already take on many projects to address hunger and homelessness in the Greater Boston community.
Heading Home, Inc, our partner organization, identified a family from among their clients as one ready to be in permanent housing. They handled the purchasing of the apartment, and would manage it in the future. Our task was to fully furnish and decorate the home. We brought together groups within our community to take responsibility for different rooms in the home. Through donations of new and gently used furniture, we welcomed the family home on Sunday, March 4, 2012.
We have been in partnership with Heading Home, Inc for over two years. We regularly prepare meals at their shelter, and take part in other volunteer opportunities for them, as they present themselves. As we built the relationship with them, it became clear to us that we were ready for a large-scale project with them. Our Social Action committee chairs also had to develop key relationships within the congregation to be able to assure the success of this program. They served as the coordinators of this project. They understood the power of delegation, and the necessity to identify key leaders for particular rooms in the home. This work also helped us begin to think about and try out potential leaders for future projects and initiatives within the congregation. We did a broad marketing campaign, using email updates, Temple bulletin, and social media. Word of mouth was a very effective tool for us on this project.
In January, 2012 we publicized a meeting for anyone interested in helping move a family from a shelter into a permanent apartment, a home that we would fully furnish and decorate. Eight people came and we began with a description of the project then showed the Up and Out video that Heading Home had produced and posted on YouTube. At the end of the video, all eight people signed up to lead a portion of the project. In addition to these leaders, we reached out to other committees at Temple, asking them to participate.
Members sent photos of couches, beds and bureaus to donate. The Sisterhood kitchen coordinators took a trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond and registered for dishes, flatware, a coffee pot, mops , brooms, pots and pans. The other room leaders added their own touches to the registry -- from curtains to bath towels. The registry link was distributed to the congregation in weekly emails and it was a huge success. Temple Shalom's youth group held a Tzedakah dinner and collected donations to buy bedspreads, curtains and toys for the kids' room. Temple Shalom's Nursery School held a book drive and collected almost 100 new books to fill a book shelf in the kids' room.
We received the keys to the apartment a week before the move and paid for a Budget rental truck with money donated by members.. The weekend of the move was full of activity and energy. Sisterhood members cleaned out kitchen drawers and cabinets, cleaned every dish and coffee mug and set up the entire kitchen. The two food coordinators shopped at Costco, then filled the freezer, refrigerator and pantry with meat, vegetables, juice, spices, cereals, grains and staples like flour and sugar. Groups from every room committee put sheets and bedspreads on beds, installed curtain rods and hung pictures on the walls. Handy congregants assembled bookshelves and a coffee table. The small apartment was filled with people and the mood was joyous.
This was a wonderful opportunity for our community. It meant so much to Ann and her sons to move into an already furnished apartment. It brought our community together, and it strengthened our alliance with Heading Home, Inc. We are looking for other opportunities with Heading Home, Inc. similar to this one.