When there is a need at Roseland Christian Ministries, churches within the denomination do not hesitate to lend a helping hand. This time the effort would take months, but in the end, members of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Ill., were able to present a handmade quilt for each of the 17 rooms at Roseland’s renovated women’s shelter.
For a long time Roseland partnered with the city of Chicago for its shelter—a wide-open space with beds lined up. But with little say in programming, and after an examination of their core values, the decision was made to take ownership and transform the shelter space into 17 individual dorm rooms. And what better way to warm up those rooms than to add a homemade quilt to each?
“The idea is that you get not only a room, you also get a homemade quilt,” said Joe Huizenga, pastor at Roseland Christian Reformed Church in Chicago, the worshiping body of Roseland Christian Ministries. “If you graduate from the program after 18 months, you get to take that with you as a sign of achievement. We offer more than just a cot and a bowl of soup; we offer genuine warmth, love, and compassion. The quilt—something to keep you warm at night—is a beautiful sign of Christ’s compassion and love.”
For months, a group of six quilters led by Mary Van Loh spent hours each week making the quilts, which shared a pattern but were different in color.
“When you do something like that, you get as much benefit from it as the person that you give it to,” said Van Loh.
Once completed, the quilts were displayed at Hope CRC during a church service with several people from Roseland in attendance.
While the effort of the quilters was extraordinary, they were not alone in contributing to the shelter’s renovation. Other members of Hope CRC painted the walls; members of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Tinley Park, Ill., help frame walls; members of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Ill., helped run electricity. And those are just a few of the area churches that participate in the ongoing efforts at Roseland.
“Whenever we need help with something, the response is always overwhelming,” said Huizenga. “It doesn’t matter if it’s people in the trades or folks in education or people needed to help at breakfast. We see a lot of churches in the community that are isolated, but the strength we have by being in community as part of the Christian Reformed Church is incredible. We don’t exist without that support.”