A Symphony of Hope: Orchestrating Recovery at 611 Reily St.
Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD (Psalm 150:1-6).
Praise God—we have been consistently near or at the 100-guest capacity in our Men’s Mission for the past few months, increasing from around 50 during the coronavirus outbreaks in 2020 and 2021. We hope 2023 will be a stable year, made possible by lessons learned and the availability of testing and treatments. To manage and grow so many guests, the Men’s Mission coordinates the efforts of many distinct people and positions in a beautiful symphony of recovery.
A symphony renders a beautiful melody, harmony, and rhythm orchestrated by a conductor. The definition of symphony uses the words harmonious complexity, which capture the significant challenge for Bill Christian, Men’s Mission Director, in working with and encouraging each person to play their crucial role. Bill would quickly say that the conductor is the Lord, with whom each of us walks, following His lead.
Here are the staff—the servants, offering the love of Jesus in tangible ways:
Upon arrival and check-in, men are welcomed and given a bed and locker to store their possessions. The initial days are crucial in getting the guest acclimated to experiencing the love of Jesus through having a safe place, receiving nourishing food, and being able to rest from a chaotic, wearisome life.
“Every man is treated as one who is in recovery. [Our guests] determine if it is going to be long term with a transformative result. Some leave within a few days or weeks—many decide to stay, and their lives are changed,” said Cecil McCray, Manager of Mission Services.
New guests are evaluated by both our assistant director and Medical Clinic staff to determine if they have mental health issues, substance abuse issues, physical health problems, or poor life skills. Then, they are directed to the appropriate programs and services. “When men enter, I get to meet them one-on-one and am able to share the gospel with every one of them,” explained Assistant Director Don Koch. “We help the whole person so these issues won’t again lead to homelessness and defeat.”
Medical Clinic Manager Carol Steele said, “Our initial assessment helps determine a guest’s ability to participate in classes and activities at the Shelter. If medical issues are identified and not addressed, it is often hard for a guest to fully participate and benefit from a recovery program.” Additionally, our Medical Clinic staff provides health check-ups and general care as needed.
Our Dental Clinic also provides a variety of health-care services, from cleanings to more significant procedures, through the participation of volunteer dentists from the area. In particular, Dr. David Russell has been the visionary for the care that we provide today. Dental Clinic Manager Sharie Fisher works diligently to ensure our guests receive the care they need.
Guests who are accepted into the recovery program are assigned a life coach, with whom they work for the duration of the program. Life coaches oversee the holistic progress of each guest physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and occupationally. The relationships that life coaches and guests build with one another are an integral part of our program. Life Coach Kevin Murphy shared, “I see broken, shamed men who don’t want to be in a homeless shelter end up being healed because of Christ’s love.”
House Supervisors keep our guests safe and help them follow their action plans. One or two supervisors are constantly stationed at the main door, checking visitors and guests and securing the building. The supervisors also distribute prescribed medications.
Volunteers assist us in many different ways, depending on their gifts and availability. Stan Smith, a member of our board, leads a monthly Bible study. Stan remarked, “When I walk into the chapel to teach the Bible, there is an eagerness and attentiveness from the guys that encourages me and makes me a better teacher. Each time [my wife and I] leave, we note how we have been encouraged by their desire to break out of destructive life patterns and to fully experience God’s plan for their [lives] through Jesus Christ. I thank God for Bethesda and the opportunity to be a small part of the larger ‘symphony of care and ministry.’”
Would you like to support this symphony of hope? Please consider giving your time or donating through our website at bethesdamission.org or over the phone at (717) 257-4442 x240. Your gift makes a world of difference for the men, women, and children that we serve every day.
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