Saturday, November 14, 2015

Celebrate!!!

Whenever a friend gets back into a place of their own, it's time to celebrate!

This day has been in the works for 1 1/2 yrs.

That's right, Sylvia has been on the streets for that long!

I asked her if I could take a picture of her in her new apartment.


She is so excited.

The church came together yesterday to deliver her some furniture that was donated.

It was great seeing lots of people coming together to help a friend in need.

The apartment got filled up fast.


I am thrilled that Sylvia will no longer be on the streets fearing for her life.

The apartment complex looks very nice and safe.

The streets are no place for anyone to live, but especially for women who get abused and attacked more than you would like to know.

This is not the end to the story, but a highlight of what's to come.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible and especially Caritas for their tireless effort.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

This has been a dream of mine for a while.

Anybody have some lockers to donate?



We have the space for them.



The need is out there.



Need lockers and the manpower to install them.



In Chicago, Lockers Help Homeless Youth Find Some Stability - CityLab

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My heart aches!

Some times the reality of this world we live in really hurts.

Last week a good friend of mine went off the wagon and has been missing ever since.

This morning I ran into another friend who is homeless. She came to me in tears as she explained that she was in a bad relationship. 

I looked into her face and saw what might have been bruising?

She inquired about the need for housing.

She wouldn't go into with me on the street as she suddenly left and said goodbye.

I sensed that she was afraid! 

Not even a minute later her man came riding down the street on a bicycle. He said it was time to go to work.

I can only imagine what the real circumstances might be.

I hate to think the worse, but sometimes the reality of the situation is not a pretty picture.

Then a few minutes later I ran into a teenage girl I know who is trying to make it in this world under VERY difficult circumstances.

It breaks my heart to see a child suffer because of circumstances out of her control.

My prayer walks are not always happy ones, but ones that break my heart.

I believe it is intentional so that I will stay motivated to continue to do the work at hand.

I think God was speaking to me when I ran across this piece of trash in the street.

It was the first time in close to four years that I have ever picked up one of these in the streets.



Run over and beaten up, but still motivated!

Pray for the people in this community!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Some times I LOVE technology!



Some one sent me the link to this website.


I LOVE it!

Watch the video!





A very creative way to reunite families!


Saturday, October 24, 2015


Here is a great video of the work that Caritas does.

Last week we hosted 43 women from Caritas.


Friday, October 23, 2015

A BIG Thank YOU!

Hey Awesome volunteers,

I wanted to write and thank you all for making this past week a success. 

I hope that you had a wonderful experience helping the most vulnerable members of our community.

Believe me when I say that lives were changed this past week.

Two ladies committed their lives to Christ.

Three women came back to Church this past Sunday after they left. We sent a bus out to pick them up.

Numerous relationships were either formed or in some cases rekindled.

I wanted to pass on this video from Caritas that shows the power of many volunteers, supporters and staff coming together to make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lMPaLhQJok

While we only see the women for a week, you can be assured that your love and service had an impact on many lives.

Thank you again for your loving service.

Nelson Parker

Thursday, October 22, 2015

One slight change

Some times something so simple can make life just a little bit easier.

I thought I learned this lesson last year when we hosted Caritas (Homeless Shelter), but I needed to be reminded again this year as we hosted 43 women.

Last year is was Saturday evening and I had invited the women to attend church on Sunday.

Someone came up to me to ask for an iron.


I thought it was a strange request because I thought to myself "why would I have an iron at work?"

She then informed me that she wanted to press her clothes for Church.

The light bulb came on in my head!

I said no we didn't, but I will run home and get one.

My house is only two blocks away.

I thought to myself if this is what it will take to get someone to church, no problem!

Now let me bring you up to date to last week when the women were here.

I planned ahead and got the iron ready for Saturday night.

Sure enough the iron got plenty of use that night.

Then when I left Saturday night I packed up the iron to take it back home.

My wife and daughter were looking for it, when it went missing.

On Sunday afternoon one of the ladies asked for the iron.

What?

I was dumb founded again!

I never stopped to think that maybe they would want to iron their clothes every day!

The next day an iron and board were donated to Caritas!

Sometimes we just need to put ourselves in someone else's shoes to better understand the needs.

Another example came a couple of days latter, when it was explained to a volunteer, don't put the lunches in paper bags.

Why?

I thought to myself lunch bags make perfect sense.

NOT when it's raining!

Simple, yet we don't always look from someone else's perspective!

Iron
Plastic bags


Friday, October 16, 2015

My heart hurts



I went to the grocery store and saw this woman sitting on the corner.

My heart sank and I got very frustrated.

The reason is that I knew her and she was staying with me at the church.

You see this past week the church has been hosting 43 homeless women(Caritas).

I see women on the streets all the time, but this day it meant so much more.

She was sleeping at our church during the night, but during the day she is taken back to the streets to sit all day and wait for the evening to come.

This woman has some physical limitations that would keep her from a lot of mobility.

I believe we can do so much better for those less fortunate.

What would this picture look like if it were 20 degrees outside or it was cold and raining?

There needs to be a day space that enables people to be constructive and build self worth and dignity.

I use the term "day space" as opposed to shelter because it has negative connotations.

Not to mention "homeless" is much worse!

The day space could be the central point for services as well.

This church has the space, but not the labor capacity to pull this off.

I pray that more foot soldiers will come on board to help make this possible.

We can partner together to make this city a much kinder and loving place to be.

THE Church (as a whole) has the ability and capacity to make this happen!

P.S.

By the way I did go speak to Anne (not her real name) and made sure she was OK.

She claimed she was waiting on someone and that she would see me that night.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Intruder is crushed by 3,000lb safe!

A man's look back on his family life after 44 years.

This past week Atlee Church has been hosting 43 homeless women.

It is always a joy getting to know the ladies.

This one particular lady came up to me last night to say she had a story to tell me.

It was a story about a man who broke into a church to steal the safe in the office.

She got the story from her husband.

She had spoken to her husband, Rickey Massenberg about where she was staying for the week.

He asked her for more details and it was at that point, he told her that his father had died at that church trying to steal a safe.

As soon as she told me I was in a state of shock.

Back in July one of my fellow pastors had sent me the following article from the Free Lance Star paper that dated back 44 years!

Read article below.

News Article

Last night I told Rickey's wife that the murder weapon was still in the office.

I took her to see it.

Then this morning Rickey left me a voice mail asking if we could get together.

I went downtown to pick him up.

I brought him to the church.

He shared with me stories about his father and how strong of a man he was.

His father stood some 6' 5"+ tall and as Rickey described him, "he didn't have a six-pack, but a twelve pack".

Rickey was describing his dad's abs. 

At one point his father could lift 1,100 pounds above his head three times in a row.

I got to hear a lot about his family life.

When we got to the safe he was taken back by the flood of memories he had of his father.

He never thought he would see the day that he would see the safe that killed his dad.


His Dad died two days before his birthday.

Rickey and his wife both said to me that his dad "never should have tried to steal from the house of the Lord".



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This is inspirational. Dope Church?

I get it!


I hate serving people!

Last year we hosted Caritas - Richmond's homeless shelter.

I learned a whole lot about service.

It's not just about serving a meal and providing a place to stay.

I used to pat myself on the back every time I served a homeless person with a bag of clothes.

It's not about me!

Instead of coming here to serve the homeless I encourage everyone to get to know each other.

Service alone will not change a life.

Building a relationship WILL!

I know because I have seen several lives changed.

As a matter of fact last year (when we hosted Caritas) we met a woman who was homeless and through an initial conversation her life changed.

I witnessed this woman, who got off the streets that Saturday and within a few days she got a job.

This happened because someone chose to be her friend and not just serve her a meal.

She then was presented with the Gospel by her new friend.

She began a relationship with Jesus Christ and I baptized her a few months later.

That's the definition of Life Change!

It started with a conversation and then someone invested their time and became her friend.

If you would like to be a part of life change then join us as we host Caritas Oct 10-17.


Just follow this link to sign up and get involved.


Help us change lives one person at a time!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Whose your neighbor?

During the week of Oct 10th - 17th Atlee Church - Northminster Campus will be hosting 42 homeless women.



We did this last year and had a blast.

The women will be having dinner and staying the nights with us.

There are a variety of activities that we did together last year.

There was an awesome talent night. This is when the women showed off their gifts. We had singers, comedians and even modern dancers.

We all gathered together and cooked the meals at night.

One volunteer came in and asked who the homeless were? 

She couldn't tell who was who.

Bingo!

We are all human beings and some of us have more serious challenges than others.

We need to treat each other with dignity and respect and NOT use labels.

Come join us and help take care of our neighbors.

See the link below if you would like to get involved.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

TEDxYYC - Mark Horvath - Making Everyone Known

This video says a lot about homelessness.

Mark Horvath knows what he is talking about.



Monday, September 7, 2015

The journey is more important than the destination.

When we pursue God with the same passion we have for the things of this world, it changes lives.

(click on link below)

http://atleechurch.org/topten/do-not-covet/

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

There's LIFE in a business card.

On February 6th 2015 I wrote an article about giving out my business cards with my cell phone number on them to complete strangers. 

http://homelesshookup.blogspot.com/2015/02/afraid-to-give-out-your-number.html

This is an awesome follow up to that post.

The lady mentioned in the post actually found some housing very close to the church a few months ago.

She had gone from being homeless to having a place to live.

Two weeks ago she came to church for the first time.

I hadn't seen her in months.

It was so exciting to see her.

Then this past Sunday she filled out a card saying that she had accepted Christ into her life!

A business card that led to life change!

That's what I am talking about!

Monday, July 27, 2015

One at a time.

This past week a young lady moved out of the apartment the church had provided for her.

She had been there for several weeks.

She moved into her own place.

She was excited to get back on her feet again.

She started out in a very bad situation of abuse with no place to go.

A friend got her out of that situation and brought her to Richmond.

She got connected with the church and it wasn't long there after that I was honored to baptize her.

No sooner had she moved out, then another person moved in.

After church on Sunday I was introduced to man who had just fallen on hard times.

He had been on the streets for a couple of weeks.

A mutual friend from church brought him to see me.

The love for another is what sparked the coversation.

This man from church cared deeply for the welfare of his neighbor.

You've heard it said "Love your neighbor!"

It was obvious as to what to do.

THE Church can make a difference  in people's lives.

One person at a time!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Grace vs Conditions

Today I was reminded of God's grace. It was not in a way that you might expect.

I didn't do something to someone that I needed forgiveness, but in the long run I did.

I met with a pastor for the first time in Williamsburg. He pastor's a church there.

He has years of experience in working with the poor and homeless.

I was looking to learn what I could.

I got a lot more than I expected!

For month's now, I have put conditions on people coming to the church for benevolence.

People in need of help with utilities and or rent. They have no water or they are about to be evicted. They may even be homeless.

The expectations were, if you come to church we will help you.

What was revealed to me today in my meeting were these questions.

Did God put on me any expectations for His love?

We're there any conditions I needed to meet before he would love me.

Did I have to jump through hoops to receive his Grace?

The answer to these questions is absolute.

NO!

So when I meet someone in need, I need to love them where they are at.

I don't need to fix them.

I need to love them.

I need to extend God's grace.

If I am to help financially, then it needs to come with no expectations just God's love.

I need to ask forgiveness for the expectations I have put on people and as a result turned them away from God's face.

They did not see Jesus!

They saw hoops that they were more than willing to jump through to get what they needed.

I need to show them the Love and Grace of Jesus.

NOT Conditions!

Wet housing vs Dry and they are not talking about the weather.

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7714804?utm_hp_ref=tw

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

In the blink of an eye!

The other night I hosted a membership class for the church.

Four to five people had signed up for the class.

Only two showed up and one of those was unexpected.

Halfway through the class I realized something.

I was in awe.

Within a year, both persons had gone from homelessness to being part of a church family and finding a home.

God is amazing!

Monday, June 15, 2015

High Housing Costs Hurt Effort to Aid Homeless in Hawaii - ABC News

Throwing the homeless in jail is not the solution. Our focus should be on prevention and housing first.



The money they are spending on clean up alone could go a long way to solving the problems.



The high cost of living only accentuates the problem.



The climate being what it is in Hawaii will always attract folks to living outside when there is no affordable housing.



Clean up will not solve the issue.



Prevention and housing first cost about 1/3 of the cost of enforcement, medical and incarceration.



High Housing Costs Hurt Effort to Aid Homeless in Hawaii - ABC News

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fallen through the cracks!

There are gaps in the homeless services, that people fall into every day.

Most recently this has do do with a homeless woman.

I will call her Susan. (not her real name)

Susan is homeless and has been beaten up by her so called boyfriend.

Susan also has some mental issues that prevent her from any type of stability.

The problem comes when a social worker expects things from Susan that she can not perform on her own.

There needs to be an advocate for those who are not independent.

Too many times assumptions are made that don't make sense.

There are very few resources for Susan. 

There are very limited resources available period!

Especially when it comes to housing.

She doesn't qualify for housing because her symptoms are not severe enough.

On days when she is around she is allowed to crash at the church in order to catch up on her sleep.

Susan is a great person. She has a sweet spirit about her.

She is lost.

She has fallen through the cracks and has been stuck there for YEARS!

I have tried to help as best I can.

I would love to hear from anyone who has housing for the mentally ill who are homeless.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

A New Home.

Today I got the news from a friend.

"We got a place!"

The story starts several months ago when I received a phone call.

Pastor King called me to say that a family was being evicted in three hours with no place to go.

Can I help?

I didn't know what to do, but I called some other folks to help.

The church stepped in and guided this family through the extremely complicated web of services available to those in need.

The family had no resources and didn't know where to turn.

The church put them up in a hotel for a time while we could pool together all the other resources.

Connections were made and the family ended up at Home Again.

In a matter of a couple of months Home Again helped the family find a home.

Today the family came up to me after the service.

"We got a place!"

They were so excited! 

They fully understood how God had blessed them.

They now want to share their story and encourage others of how God has moved through the people of the church.

They truly want to help and serve others as well.

This is the way the church can make a difference in the life of a family!

Everybody needs to get involved in some way and watch God show up.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Call to ACTION!

Last week was a tough week of learning.

I learned more about the lack of resources in our great city of Richmond, Va.

I have been working with a homeless couple for the past few months.

They were referred to me by another friend.

They have been homeless for several years.

The other day I received a text from Sally (not her real name) stating that Bill (not his real name) had hit her in the face, broken her nose and fractured another bone.

Bill was taken to jail and Sally had no place to go.

The streets are NOT a safe place especially if you are a woman all alone!

Being attacked and/or raped are the norm for a woman on the streets.

One of the reasons you don't see many women alone on the streets is because they sell themselves to stay off the streets.

Sally is in a relationship with Bill for protection.

She still sees Bill in a positive light because that is all she knows.

She has no one else.

When I called the battered women shelters they said they could not take her because she was not in immanent danger.

The other shelters are full as well.

Bill was in jail thus no immediate danger.

I don't blame the shelters because they have limited resources.

The needs far out way the resources that are currently available.

This is where I believe the CHURCH needs to step in and provide the necessary resources.

The CHURCH can fill in the gaps that exist.

The CHURCH can work with other non profits to help those in need.

The CHURCH can be the GOOD NEWS!

If we all work together we can make a huge impact.

Let's open up our hearts and take action to make a difference.

Step out in faith and watch God show up!

Friday, April 24, 2015

What are those things hanging from the trees?


Look closely! 

You can't miss them this time of year. You will find them under oak trees.

They are what we call "Inch Worms."

When I go on my walks this time of year I usually catch a couple hanging on to my clothes.

On Tuesday during a house meeting, one of the guys was so appreciative of being in a home again.

He said he couldn't stand the number of inch worms there were in the woods where he was living.

He said everything he had would get covered with the inch worms and caterpillars.

What would that look like?

I know I wouldn't like it.

I take for granted all that I have been given.

Even the smallest of details.

I hope to better understand all the struggles that the homeless go through even when it's an inch worm.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What's in a Name?

Everything!

My wife and I were discussing what to call the house we just bought.

The house will be for discipleship for men who are homeless.

We both came up with the same conclusion.

It needed to be dedicated to a friend of ours who was homeless and who changed our lives forever.

His name was David.

Below is a small snapshot about David.



The name that my wife came up with is "The House of David!"

We want to always push forward to make a difference in the lives of the homeless in honor of David.

He inspired us and we will always be grateful for his influence on our lives.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another Miracle!

In August 2014 I wrote a post about what a house key can mean to someone homeless.

Post from August

This week I get the privilege of giving out three keys to three men who are homeless.

They will be moving into a house down the street from where I live.

House for the Homeless

This has been a dream of mine for some time.

God has laid it on the heart of my wife and I to care for those who are homeless.

Now three men don't have to spend their nights in the woods or on the streets.

Pray that all the details will fall into place smoothly.

Pray for Edward, Shelton, and Michael as we walk together through this next chapter of our lives.

What a fun ride it has been to watch God show up in amazing ways!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

House for the Homeless



In the next couple of weeks I will be starting something new and exciting.

I am purchasing a nice home a block away from where I live and less from where I work.

This home will become a discipleship house for three men who were living on the streets of Richmond.

When I was 20 something I too lived in a discipleship house. 

It was a time in my life where my relationship with Christ really blossomed.

I have met three men who have interviewed for a spot in the house.

I like to say the house is open to anyone, but not everyone will want to live there.

It is important to have boundaries, but not everyone is ready for that.

You don't have to love Jesus, but you have to be willing to hear about Him.

This is something new and I am experimenting with the idea of creating a really nice environment for them to live in.

This will not be a flop house or some hole in the wall.

What impact could a nice environment have on an individual who has spent the last few years on the streets?

What impact could Jesus have on an individual? 

EVERYTHING!

Stay tune as I keep you informed as to how it is going.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Great suggestions.

I like to make a point of introducing myself and asking their names first thing, when meeting someone on the streets.

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/12/3-ways-respond-to-panhandling/

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Creative coat!

I love the fact that the product is for the homeless and is being made by those who were homeless.

It's also found many other buyers as well.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/detroit-nonprofit-hires-homeless-make-coatssleeping-bags-29686451

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Family Breakfast



February 18, 2015
We will be hosting our THIRD breakfast for our Food Pantry clientele this Saturday, February 21st and could use your help!

We need volunteers to help cook, serve and clean up. We also need folks willing to share a breakfast and offer rides home.

If you can't volunteer, you can still help by donating food for the breakfast.

We are in need of:  potatoes, shredded cheddar cheese,  dozen eggs, large boxes of hot chocolate mix,  large tubs of margarine,  loaves of bread and onions and waffle mix....

Please sign up HERE.

We will start serving around 8 am.

The church is located at 3121 Moss Side Ave Richmond, Va 23222

Enter from the back parking lot.

I would love to see you there!

Nelson Parker

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

That's what I call a labor of love.

I have read a lot about the organization Mobile Loaves and Fishes.



They are doing some amazing work.



It's great to see how the two came together.



Santa Cruz woman builds tiny house, donates to homeless

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Definitions can kill!

The definition of "homeless" has always been a struggle.

In 2013 my friend was NOT considered homeless because he had not been on the streets for 12 consecutive months (the definition).

He had been living in the woods for 10 months and the last two months of the total 12 he was living with me because he was dieing.

He was therefor not eligible for services because he was two months shy of a year!

If he had been left on the streets those two months he would have died.

How do I know this?

The doctor at the time, saw that he had terminal cancer and told him that he was going to die in two months.

The wrong definition can kill!


http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-02-10/bipartisan-bill-to-help-homeless-could-hurt-them

Friday, February 6, 2015

Afraid to give out your number?

A few months ago I started giving out change and my business cards to people on the streets flying their signs.

The cards had my cell phone number on it.

Many people think I might be crazy giving out my number to complete strangers.

I like to think that I might just be able to save a life.

Every time I give away change or a backpack full of goodies I give out my card and say "Give me a call if you are serious about getting off the streets."

Months went by and no calls.

So much for the theory that I would be flooded with calls.

Then about a week ago I received two calls.

Both calls came indirectly from another person who received my card.

The first was a homeless man who wanted some help. His name was Elijah.

Elijah called me as a result of talking with another man on a bus. Elijah mentioned he needed some help and this man pulled out my card and gave him my name and number.

We got together and I made some suggestions for steps he could take.

I haven't seen him since.

A lot of folks don't want to do what they need to do.

The next call came from a mother who was on the streets with two little boys, two and three years old.

She was walking along and asked a lady for help. The lady pulled out my card and told her to call me. She even let the mother use her cell phone.

I answered the phone when it was my day off.

At first I didn't want to respond because it was inconvenient.

It is amazing how selfish I can be at times, even when a family is on the streets freezing.

I called some friends from church and we pulled together to make something happen.

We moved the family into a house that day for a temporary stay. We are looking for more permanent housing currently.

Not sure if the mom is ready, but we are at least trying.

Non of this is easy or does it go smoothly, but I do know this is what God was talking about when he said "Love your neighbor".

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A small act of kindness can change lives

When you hand out a gift, a connection can be made and a life can be transformed.

Great story.

Simple and not very complicated, but life changing.

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/giving-spirit-bag-changes-homeless-vets-life/

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I didn't even know!

I didn't even know that our own governor of Va and mayor of Richmond had pledged to end veteran homelessness in 2015.

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/veteran_information/mayors_challenge/mayors_and_staff

It is possible! See the story from New Orleans below.

http://m.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0109/In-a-US-first-New-Orleans-finds-homes-for-all-its-homeless-veterans

This a great start to ending homelessness. Let's hope the same resources and knowledge will be applied to ALL some day.

I found out the other week that if you have anything other than an "honorable discharge" you will not qualify to receive help through the Veterans Administration.

A friend I met had a "less than honorable discharge" and did not qualify. It was not "dishonorable" but "less than".

We still have a ways to go, but if we apply some of the same practices as we are with the veterans we will move in the right direction.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tiny Homes for the Homeless an Occupy Madison Project

It would be great to see something like this in Richmond.

Create a community of second chances and dignity.

Where there is Hope then the possibilities are limitless.


Tiny Homes for the Homeless an Occupy Madison Project