Tag Archives: homelessness

Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: August 30, 2015

Several times a year we distribute 350-500 personal hygiene kits to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. Since starting our hygiene kits ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 kits a year.

Our next distribution will be at 9am Sunday, August 30, 2015 in place of our regular Church Without Walls service. As with the regular service, we will meet in picnic Pavilion 2 in Candler Park.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on Sunday, May 31, 2015 we assembled 500 more hygiene kits for distribution to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. We were joined by members of the Decatur Rotary Club, which also generously supported our hygiene kits ministry by helping us secure supplies for them.

Continue reading Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: August 30, 2015

Summer School in the Streets of Atlanta

Time for an (almost) summer-school pop quiz: Of the following, which would you say is the most important to the average person on Atlanta’s streets right now?

  1. Substantial deodorant, for both men and women.
  2. Socks, preferably black.
  3. Plastic bags, as many as you can spare.
  4. Basic human dignity.

Answer key: #4, Basic human dignity.

In this exercise, #4 is the “all of the above” answer, because the other three answers are contained in it.

When we hit Atlanta’s streets once a quarter to distribute hygiene kits to the people we encounter there, the expressed needs change, but they’re just spokes on a wheel, the hub of which is basic human dignity. And that hub is the “all of the above” answer every time.

Two Sundays ago we were back out there, with a goal of distributing 500 freshly made hygiene kits. As with every time we’ve done this since 2010, we were exposed to slightly different spokes than the time before. Items 1-3 above are what we heard this time; next time it’ll be slightly different.

But #4 never changes — yet it’s the one need that never really gets expressed out loud. Because exactly how does one ask for basic dignity? For some, it’s by asking for items 1-3 above. So meeting those needs becomes a means for chipping away at the real need, for restoring dignity. Hearing the evolving spoken needs, we obsess over creating the Platonic ideal of The Perfect Hygiene Kit, when in fact the ideal isn’t a kit at all — it’s restoring that dignity.

So we do what we can and let God do the rest. We listen while we’re distributing, and the Gospel tells us that when we do this, we are also listening to Jesus.

But the trick is to really hear. And what I hope we’re all hearing in the midst of this listening is that every single one of our brothers and sisters on this Earth deserves the same basic dignity we’d want for ourselves. Because if that level of listening were actually a global daily human practice, can you imagine the sort of world we might actually live in?

I dare say that world would be one step closer to heaven.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

500 More Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: May 31, 2015

Several times a year we distribute up to 500 personal hygiene kits to the people on the streets of Atlanta, with an annual impact of up to 2,000 kits a year. Since starting this ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits in Atlanta.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on May 31, 2015 we assembled 500 more kits thanks to the generous support of First Christian Church of Decatur, Rotary Club of Decatur, Unity Fellowship Church of Atlanta, our volunteers and individual donors.

Continue reading 500 More Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: May 31, 2015

What the Homeless Will Teach Us This Sunday

This Sunday we will turn our church inside out, head toward downtown Atlanta, and let the people who live on its streets teach us the Gospel. We do it once a quarter, and we call it something along the lines of “hygiene kits ministry” or “homeless ministry”.

But the real ministry is happening in reverse. Every time we’ve done this for the last five years, we get schooled. Some examples:

  1. Peanut butter sandwiches aren’t as big a hit as you might expect
  2. In sandwich-making, keep condiments separate
  3. Soft fruits are friendlier for folks who have dental challenges
  4. Food insecurity isn’t as big a challenge as you might think
  5. The Word isn’t that hard to locate, but an actual bible is a bit clunky to lug around
  6. Personal hygiene, a basic dignity we take for granted, is a real challenge on the streets
  7. Clean washcloths or socks are rare luxuries
  8. Female hygiene is expensive and overlooked
  9. Dark clothing is better at concealing the grime of the streets

In other words: Open your eyes and ears, close your mouth, check your ego, and listen to the real needs. Often they’re connected to basic personal dignity and a kind of pragmatism we almost can’t relate to anymore.

The Gospel tells us that when we do that, we’re in the presence of none other than Jesus. It’s a real blessing, and it certainly feels that way, every time. So, what if the pure gratitude that gets expressed toward us is bigger than just giver-and-receiver? What if it’s God’s gratitude that we’re back and listening again for the real ways we can be our brother’s keeper? And what if the things the homeless tell us this Sunday are, for us, the spiritual equivalent of whatever the father whispers into the prodigal son’s ear when they’re first reunited?

In other words: Even though we are commanded to do it more often, at least once a quarter we truly get out of our own heads, change our focus, and come back home.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: May 31, 2015

Several times a year we distribute 350-500 personal hygiene kits to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. Since starting our hygiene kits ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 kits a year.

Our next distribution will be at 9am Sunday, May 31, 2015 in place of our regular Church Without Walls service. As with the regular service, we will meet in picnic Pavilion 2 in Candler Park.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on Sunday, February 8, 2015 we assembled 500 more hygiene kits for distribution to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. We were joined by members of the Decatur Rotary Club, which also generously supported our hygiene kits ministry by helping us secure supplies for them.

Continue reading Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: May 31, 2015

500 More Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: February 8, 2015

Several times a year we distribute 350-500 personal hygiene kits to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. Since starting our hygiene kits ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 kits a year.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on Sunday, February 8, 2015 we assembled 500 more kits for distribution to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta.

We were joined by members of the Decatur Rotary Club, which also generously supported our hygiene kits ministry by helping us secure supplies for them.

Continue reading 500 More Hygiene Kits for the Homeless: February 8, 2015

Meeting a Need: The Homeless Don’t Need Bibles

I’ll never forget the man who poured water all over my carefully orchestrated homeless ministry in Little Five Points. We had collected bibles and made sack lunches and were distributing them in Findley Plaza. Not that we were evangelizing — we just knew that there are people on the streets who take comfort in the bible.

But that doesn’t mean homeless people like to haul around books — even the good book. Because like any book, a bible will eventually get wet, it’s extra weight, etc. As much as someone may want to read the bible, the homeless don’t need extra ballast in their day.

So we stopped collecting bibles and started listening. And what we heard was that there are needs that go largely unmet by people like us who show up with bibles and food: A way to wash hands. Feminine hygiene. Socks. Not that food isn’t important, but it’s not the only need.

Two weekends from now we’ll be back in the streets with hundreds of hygiene kits, still listening. Four years after starting this, we’re still learning. It’s all about meeting a need.

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

Hygiene Kits Ministry: February 8, 2015

Several times a year we distribute 350-500 personal hygiene kits to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. Since starting our hygiene kits ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 kits a year.

Our next distribution will be at 9am Sunday, February 8, 2015 in place of our regular Church Without Walls service. As with the regular service, we will meet in picnic Pavilion 2 in Candler Park.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on Sunday, November 2, 2014 we assembled 500 more hygiene kits for distribution to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. We were joined by members of the Decatur Rotary Club, which also generously supported our hygiene kits ministry by helping us secure supplies for them.

Continue reading Hygiene Kits Ministry: February 8, 2015

Hygiene Kits Ministry: 500 More Kits for Atlanta’s Homeless

Several times a year we distribute 350-500 personal hygiene kits to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta. Since starting our hygiene kits ministry in 2010, we have distributed thousands of kits. Our goal is to distribute 2,000 kits a year.

During our last hygiene kits ministry on Sunday, November 2, 2014 we assembled 500 more kits for distribution to the homeless on the streets of Atlanta.

We were joined by members of the Decatur Rotary Club, which also generously supported our hygiene kits ministry by helping us secure supplies for them.

Continue reading Hygiene Kits Ministry: 500 More Kits for Atlanta’s Homeless