A block party gathering held at a local homeless shelter helped kick off a new outreach program aimed at helping people who live nearby.
The Jesus House, 1335 W Sheridan, recently held a block party for residents of two nearby neighborhoods to help launch the shelter's Adopt-a-Block program.
Rick Denny, Jesus House executive director, said the gathering was a first for the homeless shelter. The shelter offers a multitude of services to the homeless, such as food baskets, but its main program is designed to help homeless men and women who are mentally ill and suffering from addiction.
“We have a lot of homeless who are here, but the target of this event is the neighborhoods, Orchard Park and Westlawn Gardens,” Denny said. “Those two neighborhoods were what we wanted to focus on.”
He said the block party served as a fellowship gathering to help Jesus House staff members and volunteers build relationships with some of the people living in the Orchard Park neighborhood and Westlawn Gardens residential area, formerly known as the Mulligan Flats area. Denny said Jesus House staff members and volunteers plan to visit the homes of their neighbors on Saturdays as part of the Adopt-a-Block program, to identify which individuals and families may be in need of the shelter's services and resources.
He said that aid could come in a variety of forms, like emergency food and clothing, furniture or perhaps painting over graffiti. And Denny said Jesus House representatives will always try to provide spiritual encouragement for those they encounter.
“We have to do more than just wait for people to come to us in need,” he said. “We have tremendous food and clothing donations and we ant to make sure we get that out to who needs it.”
At the recent block party, visitors were treated to entertainment by students from Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore and free hot dogs and chips. Attendees were encouraged to register and show proof that they lived in the targeted neighborhoods. Those who provided proof of address were given tickets that allowed them to participate in a vision clinic sponsored by Feed The Children and receive boxes of groceries from the nonprofit group.
A prayer room where people gathered to pray for visitor's needs was manned by members of Faith Church, also known as Faith Tabernacle. Representatives of Habitat for Humanity and Guiding Right also were on hand, with Guiding Right conducting free HIV/AIDS testing. Free children's clothing, Aeropostale jeans and Nike shoes also were distributed to residents of the targeted neighborhoods.
Denny said the vision clinic proved to be a huge draw, with people standing in a lengthy line for a free eye exam and eyeglasses in one of the shelter's warehouses.
Tom Park, Feed The Children medical missions director, said people were given eye exams then fitted for eyeglasses. He said many of them were excited to obtain a new pair of eyeglasses at no cost.