The weather has changed, and so now have the flagpoles at some of Miracle Hill Ministries’ shelters. If you look closely, you will notice a white flag hanging just below the American flag at our Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee County Rescue Missions and our Shepherd’s Gate shelter for women and children in Greenville. There are no symbols and no words on these flags. They are, in fact, quite boring. So, who’s surrendering? What in the world do they mean?
The homeless know the very welcomed meaning of those flags. They wait for the wonderful sight of them as the weather gets colder. Whenever they, or you, see one of these flags, you can be sure that the temperature is going to fall below 40 degrees sometime during that evening and/or the early morning hours. Those needing a place to stay can make their way to a Miracle Hill Ministries shelter and be welcomed inside. At approximately 9:00 p.m. the cold weather shelters will open, and qualifications are minimal. Those seeking refuge must be willing to stay on their mats and be peaceable while staying with us. Guests are welcome to stay for a good breakfast the following morning but will leave the building after breakfast. They will be welcomed back again when the weather is below 40 degrees and the time is 9:00 p.m.
Cold Weather Shelter Q & A
Q: Why don’t the men and women walking on the streets just stay in a shelter instead of checking out?
A: The people you see on the streets each day have many reasons for not living in a shelter. One of the most common reasons is that they need to be taking their mental health medications but choose not to take them. This reason could cause them, or others, harm if they tried to live in a shelter environment. Others choose not to stay in shelters because there are too many people there or too many rules.
Q: Why do they have to wait until 9:00pm to check in?
A: Our missions are full of people who can, and do, live in our shelters every day. These are the men and women for whom we are responsible to feed, shelter, counsel, case manage and know their stories. They have chosen to get the help that is available to them as they live within our walls. Before 9:00 p.m., our shelter guests are getting their medications, talking to the staff member on duty and getting their needs met before going to their rooms for the evening. The cold weather shelters bring a whole new group into our building who need our attention as well. We cannot attend to both at the same time and do what needs to be done.
Q: How can I help them?
A: The best recommendation we can give is that you acknowledge them. Don’t just walk past as if they are invisible. They, like you and me, have a story. They are amazing people with much to offer the world. God has a plan for them just as He has one for us. Buy them a meal, a cup of coffee, a pair of gloves or socks. These are practical ways to help them, and, more importantly, your kindness tells them that you actually see them and recognize their worth!
This post written by Minda Shelton, Director of Shepherd’s Gate, Miracle Hill’s shelter for women and children. Minda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.