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On the Edge…At the Center
Stories from the Manchester Homeless Services Center
By Christopher Emerson, Manager
“So, what’s up with all the cell phones?”
Visitors to the Center are sometimes perplexed by the prevalence of cell phones. I suppose people figure that either the homeless have no money for cell phones; or, if they do have some cash, why are they spending their scarce resources on a luxury item like a cell phone?
Let me offer a few thoughts on why they might value the cell phones.
1. It’s their primary link to their own community. Since social isolation is a known depressant, I can understand their need for contact. 2. Since they have no fixed abode with a landline, their best way to be contacted by providers or family is via cell phone.
3. Hearing your phone ring is a quick boost to self-esteem. Cell phones tell the world, “Someone wants me!” Any little thing which conveys a sense of self-worth is embraced.
While many people today use fancy smartphones, the homeless generally use throwaways. They’re often out of minutes, scraping a few dollars to buy a few more. Measuring life by minutes – that’s how it is for the homeless.
Serenity Place is Thinking “Hole in One”!
Serenity Place, Manchester’s addiction recovery and education center, is holding our 9th almost-annual golf tournament July 19 at Candia Woods Links. More than just a day off, this one holds the promise of fun, great prizes and maybe even the opportunity to tell the truth about your game! The Serenity Golf Gathering to Honor Dick Simard begins at 8:30 am with a shotgun start, your cart and lunch are included in the registration, and we tee off rain or shine. All proceeds from the Golf Gathering benefit programs at Serenity Place, where we are expanding transitional living to include a new program for women, and opening a new Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program this summer. Imagine, a day on the course for just $100 per golfer or $375 for your foursome. For more, visit http://www.SerenityPlace.org, where you can register online. If you can’t golf with us but want to support the event, visit us on http://www.crowdrise.com/serenityplace, THE coolest way to give. The Serenity Golf Gathering is brought to you through the generosity of Anagnost Companies, St. Mary’s Bank, CGI Benefits Group, New Hampshire Catholic Charities and Northeast Delta Dental.
The 1269 Café is now located at 123 Hanover Street. While we have a new location our mission is the same! The 1269 Café is an outreach ministry for the homeless and other vulnerable populations in Manchester. Its purpose is to remove suffering in our neighborhood by showing God’s love in action, by loving people as they are, and by leading them to a better way of living. 1269 Café meets both practical and spiritual needs in the community through food, fellowship, and some bible teachings.
Over the course of the fall and winter months the 1269 Café has been in transition. We left our old space on Elm Street but kept things running using the Queen City Motor Inn and First Baptist Church. While construction was a primary focus we still managed to conduct weekly worship services and Food for Friends and various other small groups. We also volunteered for the annual Manchester Point-in-Time Count and Project Homeless Connect, with great success. 1269 also has the privilege of participating in the Annual Christmas Dinner hosted by Fratello’s. At this year’s Christmas dinner over 400 people were served.
Now with our renovations coming to a close, we look forward to having a new space, a new look and most importantly making new friends. The 1269 Café on Hanover Street is the perfect location for us to impact the city of Manchester. The 1269 Café is a place where people can come to find answers to life’s toughest questions. It is a place that encourages people to live better through applications of Scripture. 1269 is a place where people welcomed. There is nothing traditional about the ministry at 1269 and that is why I love it!
So what happens at the 1269 Café on Hanover Street?
This is not your regular type of outreach church…
A friend who attended 1269 in its early days said “Jerry, I go to church and I have questions. I listen to the Pastor preach and my questions go unanswered. I leave more confused than when I went in.”
This man’s experience changed the way we looked at serving. What good is hearing someone teach if you do not understand the lesson? This is what makes the 1269 Café different. As the pastor I prepare all week for the message. However, I am open and ready to listen to what is happening in the lives of the people. In fact we encourage interaction and questions. We do not look at these as interruptions but rather ways to learn how to apply what is being taught. For example on one Sunday as we spoke about forgiveness a woman decided to speak. She said she could not forgive someone in her life that hurt her. Her pain and suffering was evident. At that point this woman became the most important person in the room. We focused on helping her to heal and forgive.
One of my sweetest memories at 1269 was when a man asked to make a point while I was teaching…what he said was more powerful than anything I could have put together. For me to go on would have taken away from what the Lord was doing. I simply stood up and said the Gospel has been given let us close with a song.
Indeed, the 1269 Café is not what some people would call traditional. It is a place where grace, compassion, love are not words, but actions, and that’s why I love 1269!
Thank you, 1269 Cafe, for your continued support and participation in the Manchester Continuum of Care!
As I get ready to wrap up my VISTA year in New Hampshire, I wanted to take a moment share some of my reflections about the important work that you do for so many struggling individuals and families in the City of Manchester. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to support the Manchester Continuum of Care, as you move forward in your efforts to combat homelessness in this city. The past year has been a unique experience, which has allowed me to see some of the issues of homelessness in a part of the country very different from where I came from. When I think back at all that was accomplished throughout the year, I know that it was only possible because of the commitment that you all share to ensuring that your services are the best that they can be for those you serve. It was wonderful to see so many people so invested in doing the right thing for those most vulnerable in your community. Lastly, one of the best parts of my job was having the opportunity to get to know such a wonderful array of people and to work with you all in both large and small ways. Thank you for letting me be a part of what you all do! It was an experience that has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally and is one that I will not soon forget.