Thank You to Outgoing Host Congregations Windsor Heights Lutheran, St. Stephen Lutheran
Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) would be nothing without the contributions of our Host Congregations, some of which have been with us since the beginning. Windsor Heights Lutheran Church and St. Stephen Lutheran Church have worked tirelessly to support the FPGD mission since its inception in 2004.
We’ve had Host Congregations come and go over the years, as they shift their focus to other missions or struggle to secure the volunteers and resources necessary to stay involved. After 17 years of dedication to our guests and our mission, the time to move on has come for Windsor Heights and St. Stephen. These congregations and their volunteers have been incredible assets to FPGD and they deserve our wholehearted gratitude.
We asked Pastor Chris Olkiewicz at Windsor Heights Lutheran and co-coordinator Andrea Heerdt at St. Stephen Lutheran to share a little about their time working with FPGD on behalf of their respective congregations:
Q: What impact did this work have on your congregation?
A: “We’ve always felt that we are contributing in a concrete way to assist [FPGD guest] families over a rough spot in their lives,” Heerdt said, “… While they are in our care, providing meals, a safe place to sleep at night, and transportation back and forth to the day center (as needed) contributed to their well-being during these times of transition.”
“It certainly increased our awareness of the challenges faced by homeless families in the community and inspired us to respond compassionately and generously,” said Olkiewicz.
Q: What has your congregation learned from this partnership?
A: “Homes and housing are things that should never be taken for granted as they seem to be beyond the reach of many struggling with unemployment, family issues and crisis in their personal lives,” said Heerdt.
“Many volunteers from the congregation have stories about conversations they have had with families while serving as overnight hosts or sharing meals,” Olkiewicz said, “The experience really put a face on homelessness. We have liked being able to help at least some homeless folks in this way, even though the larger problem of homelessness remains daunting.”
Though the host partnership has come to an end for now, the mutual impact of these congregations’ involvement will carry on. Once again, we extend our thanks to Windsor Heights Lutheran Church and St. Stephen Lutheran Church for their years of valuable support. As for future partnerships, Olkiewicz offers his recommendation:
“You should do it,” said Olkiewicz, “Serving hands-on, face-to-face will help you see the human dimension of homelessness, that the homeless are fellow human beings and not mere numbers and statistics.”