With Tribal help, tiny church warms homeless
LAKESIDE – On any given Sunday, fielding a softball team might be a stretch for Lakeside’s Community Presbyterian Church. Yet the tiny congregation (membership 12) is hitting home runs in mercy and charity.
Feed the hungry? Check.
Clothe the naked? You bet.
Shelter the homeless? They’re on it.
Lakeside Presbyterian was one of 49 community groups and agencies receiving grants in 2019 from the Coquille Tribal Community Fund. The church’s warming center for the homeless was awarded the year’s smallest grant. It asked for and received just $1,110 to stay open for another year.
“We don’t need any more money than that,” explained church Elder James Ives, who leads the project.
The warming center runs on a cheerful shoestring. When the local forecast calls for a freeze, Ives alerts a crew of church members and community volunteers. Word also goes out to nearby homeless camps.
In the evening, guests stash their personal belongings in a locked closet. Dinner is served at 8 p.m., courtesy of volunteers from another Lakeside church.
The accommodations are sparse but serviceable: eight narrow mattresses on the church floor, with blankets and clean linens. Kennel crates are available for dogs. A volunteer security detail keeps watch all night, and more volunteers serve breakfast at 7 a.m.
“The community made it happen,” Ives said. “All the church did was open our doors.”
The warming center serves a genuine need. The recent Point-In-Time Homeless Count found 35 people living rough in the Lakeside area.
“There are quite a few, but they’re hidden,” Ives said. “They’re in the woods.”
Along with cold-weather shelter, the church offers coats, clothing, backpacks, blankets and flashlights to those in need. Meal packets are another ministry of Lakeside Presbyterian.
On Super Bowl Sunday, a dozen volunteers gathered after church to load plastic zipper bags with non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods. Working in an assembly line, they stuffed 100 bags in 20 minutes, leaving plenty of time to catch the game. Ives reminded each volunteer to take a couple of packets to share with homeless people they meet on the street.
“The partnership between this church and the community is impressive,” said Jackie Chambers, who administers the Coquille Tribal fund. “They’re making a huge difference in people’s lives, and our tribe is proud to help.”
About the grants
The Coquille Tribal Community Fund is distributing $261,720 to 49 community groups and agencies during its 2019 Grant Week, Feb. 23 through March 1.
Four of the grantees, including the Lakeside warming center, were in the fund’s Public Safety category. The others were Charleston Fishing Families ($5,000), Court Appointed Special Advocates ($5,000), and the Sumner Rural Fire Protection District ($6,127).
Since its launch in 2001, the fund has distributed $6.4 million.