The REST Program Meets and Exceeds New Challenges
This year has felt very different to those of us who have participated as volunteers in the REST program during past seasons. The convoluted transportation issues caused by local politics (San Rafael) have necessarily resulted in a changed “culture” of the guest/participants in the program. Suffice to say that registering to be a REST Guest (!), has required a different type of schedule this year. That may have been hardest on those who are trying to hold down at least a part-time job.
Having said that, things are constantly evolving, and we are just now beginning to see some stabilization within the homeless population we serve. While transportation to and from participating congregational shelters was in a state of flux, at the same time, the (more typical) weather this year also increased the sense of urgency among homeless folk who formerly may have chosen to remain outdoors. Too cold and/or wet most nights to stay away from REST shelters this year!
Thankfully, beyond the scope of our guests, our little piece of the REST Program has continued to expand the diversity of its volunteer cadre. We have welcomed more new volunteers in the first 10-11 weeks of this program than in the entire season last year! 12 brand-spanking new volunteers from within – as well as from “outside” – our congregation. And, those 12 newbies are the offshoots of 6 households – which, naturally, means that they represent a wide range of age and relationship status!
Additionally heartening is that fact that SFTS (encouraged and led by Dan Schilling and Scott Clark) will once again sponsor a night of their own service to the Shelter at the end of January. And March is shaping up to become “The Month of The Groups”. It is already featuring not only a return of ”Youth-Group-Age-Types” (<- my words … but definitely not restricted to members; details available from Rev. Diana Bell); a newly participating 4-H group under the tutelage of Martha Olsen-Joyce; AND a welcome to returning service by the PEO Sisterhood. So, if you’re in a group, and you think they might like to participate, consider making your reservations now! It’s a hot (and rewarding) ticket!
If you are unfamiliar with the Shelter program, we always say, ”Just ask around at Coffee Hour; it is easy to find a happily experienced volunteer to answer your questions.” Or for those of you who prefer email, feel free to contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (put “REST Inquiry” on the subject line).