If you walked into the Lincoln Park Community Shelter in Chicago, IL on July 31, you would have seen 15 people from Menomonie's First Congregational United Church of Christ. Kids and adults alike would be found playing games, preparing a supper, and laughing with the guests in the homeless shelter.
The group of 6 adults and 9 youth left on Friday, July 29, for a long, long drive down to the Windy City. Upon arriving, the group stayed at St. Pauls United Church of Christ in the Lincoln Park area. Three teams prepared tow breakfasts, two dinners, and three bunches of sack lunches over the course of three days. The preparation entailed planning, shoppiung for, cooking, and plating and serving each meal.
This was the first mission trip for many of the youth, and it really showed them that not everybody has a place to come home to every night. The Lincoln Park Community Shelter is a facility in the Lincoln Park neighborhood that provides housing and meals for 35 homeless people. Because it's privately funded, the guests, as they are called, can stay as long as they need to. Some of the men and women staying at the shelter have jobs or are going to school and are making the transition into permanent housing, which is the goal of the program. When they leave, a spot opens up and a new person comes into the shelter. Alumni of LPCS (Graduates) often volunteer once they have left, creating a cycle of good-deed doing.
The experience was a new one for the youth. "It really made me realize that people on the street sometimes have good skills and just need some help to get into a shelter and have a better life," saus Sean Williams who went on the trip with his father Todd and his younger brother Max. Rachel Ropella says, "Going to Chicago truly opened my eyes about how I see poverty and how much of a difference serving them with a smile makes."
Fifteen adults and youth returned Tuesday, August 2, with a new way pf perceiving the world. Everyone had a great time, as is evidenced by their blog: uccchicagomissiontrip.blogspot.com. For more information about the trip, contact First Congregational UCC at 715-235-5838.
--Emily Billingsley, First Congregational UCC