People who live on the streets in south Chicago know where to find a meal and a warm place to sleep. Word gets around.
Two Illinois churches—Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Oak Lawn and Immanuel CRC in Burbank—are part of a group of churches that open their buildings as shelters once each week from October to April. In this way, shelter is available every night of the week.
Calvin CRC is open every Thursday for men. Although it is an overflow site, all of the 32 mattresses are usually occupied. Sometimes in harsh weather the church serves 40 men, which means some sleep on the floor.
The men receive supper at another church and are brought to Calvin to sleep. There they also receive an evening snack and breakfast.
Immanuel CRC is in its sixth season as a site for women and children. About 15-25 people usually receive supper, an opportunity to shower, a mattress with clean linens to sleep on, breakfast, and a sack lunch.
About 20 people from the church volunteer for duties and shifts that include setting up the Sunday school room for eating and sleeping, getting meals ready and serving them, doing night duty, and putting things away in the morning.
Sandy Taeuber, a member of Immanuel CRC who volunteers at the church’s shelter, says, “Before I started volunteering, I knew inside my head how many blessings I had from God. Now I know in my heart. Every week I find something else to be thankful for. I’m so thankful to be an instrument of bringing his justice to the world.”