By Fred Bremerman, EG WINS co-coordinator
The sixth year of Elk Grove HART Winter Sanctuary (EG WINS) has just wrapped up. After 12 weeks caring for our homeless friends, I ask myself: does EG WINS really make a difference?
I see part of the answer in comments from EG WINS guests:
“I’m very appreciative. It keeps me warm, gives me a nice, little place to sleep instead of inside my car, food, occasional socks, free haircuts and gift cards. It also allows me to use the restroom without feeling like an animal.” – William
“Thank you so much. Words cannot express my level of appreciation & I look forward to giving back. These are the things that make it possible for people like me to move forward and have the growth necessary to accomplish stability again.” – Mecca
EG WINS also makes a difference in the lives of our volunteers:
“We get to help people that in your normal course of your day, you might be able to donate some cash, but you can’t really help somebody out and meet them and talk to them. So, it offers that for me that I can actually visit with the people that come in and hear their stories and help as I can. It’s fabulous.” – Phyllis
“I think everybody needs a break every once in a while. It’s our responsibility as people that have a little bit of the upper hand to reach back, to help our brothers and ladies to get back on their feet, so they can feel good about themselves.” - David
I also see the difference EG WINS makes in the unique individuals we serve. This season 64 different guests participated in EG WINS. 46 were men and 18 were women. The youngest was 21 and the oldest 70. Among our guests, we counted a CRC student, a few grandmas, a college professor, a Marine veteran, a cruise ship chef, and an Apple employee. I find myself amazed at each life story and the will power of guests to succeed.
Finally, I see the difference EG WINS makes for the churches which join together to make EG WINS possible. Occasionally things don’t go as planned, as evidenced by the sewer issue this year at Living Water Church. The sewer back-up flooded the church (and surrounding businesses like Mel Dog’s Diner), requiring a new space to host our guests on less than 24 hours of notice. What began as a full-stress-moment turned into a blessing as leaders at Harvest Church, LifePointe Church, and Soaring Oaks Presbyterian Church opened their doors, and hearts, to welcome EG WINS guests on short notice.
I’m smiling as I think back on this season of EG WINS. The guests and volunteers, the laughter and tears, the victories and setbacks. At times it was three steps forward and two steps back. Other times it felt like being stuck in neutral. Through it all, I saw the Elk Grove community fabric being strengthened as we learned to love our neighbors – especially those without a place to call home. It reminds me why I want to do this again next year.