I've volunteered for almost three years as a member of Samaritan Ministry's Parish Council. In that capacity I attend meetings every other month to find out more Samaritan Ministry's work and how my fellow parishioners at the Episcopal parish I represent can support the organization. Our parish participates every year in a fall Mini Walk, which raises money for Samaritan Ministry's work and helps it qualify for bonus funds from Fannie Mae's Help-the-Homeless Program. In November, we put up a Christmas Giving Tree in the church lobby and collect toys, clothes, gift cards and other presents for the children and adults Samaritan Ministry serves so well. My parish has also hosted two Next Step experiences as part of our ongoing education program. Next Step brings to our church Samaritan Ministry staff, a volunteer and, most important, one of the people whose life has been turned around because of Samaritan ministry. The stories of these folks are remarkable and inspiring. I've heard several over the years and am always moved. I make sure that every article I write for our monthly parish newsletter contains at least one of these stories. I know that other parishioners find them as powerful as I do. They're an important reason we register for the Mini Walk, buy gifts for the people Samaritan Ministry serves and come to the Next Step (Fund Raising) Breakfast every spring. Samaritan Ministry works with people who have nothing. Some of them were born that way. Others lost what they had to addiction, crime, illness or plain old bad luck. Samaritan Ministry is there to help them all. Its program of setting goals and giving people the tools they need to achieve them works. The organization and the people it helps deserve every bit of support we can offer.
SMGW is a great organization because not only does it provide assistance with social services, there's an emphasis on treating the participants with dignity and respect. I have really enjoyed seeing small changes in participants' attitudes from them feeling like they cant do anything to feeling a greater sense of worth and power over their lives.
I have worked as a volunteer caseworker at Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington for approx. 3 months. What I have come to love most about the organization is its warm & friendly atmosphere. Participants feel welcome every time they come in, a feeling they don't often get when visiting other non-profit or government agencies. I have enjoyed witnessing how participants have opened up over time as they see and feel the continued hopsitality.
Like so many other volunteers for this organization, I was moved to contact SMGW by the enthusiastic example of people I admired at my church. There was an appeal for a volunteer on Fridays who would greet participants, help them feel at ease, and direct them to case-workers who could come to understand their situations of need . I began the following week (this was over ten years ago), and started an association with persons whose life circumstances differed sharply from my own. It was an association I’d long knew I needed, and one, after my wife’s illness, I knew was crucial to revive. When I did return I asked if I could volunteer as a case worker, having received solid training in pastoral counseling. For four years now I meet twice a week with participants, and try to respond to them through an approach that is basic to our whole program: helping participants fulfill their challenges and goals by taking clear and feasible “next steps.” Often their needs involve both food and shelter. We can help in a limited way with food, but also can direct participants to other places and programs where food is available. Shelter is a common need, for so many of our participants are homeless or close to it. Each person has his/her own preferences and fears, and finding a shelter where a participant can feel adequately safe and reasonably comfortable is challenging. Our job is to encourage and support a participant in taking the next step of actually getting to the food bank or the shelter. Sooner or later volunteers face the question of whether their hours a week spent assisting a non-profit organization is enough, or whether financial support is also imperative. I’ve had some success in interesting others to volunteer at SMGW. And becoming a donor seemed to me as natural and necessary as pledging to my church, and on roughly the same scale. Those of us who can, put our resources where our heart leads us. Mine, most wonderfully, has led me to Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington.
I have been working with this organization for 6 months in Southeast Washington, DC a very poor section of town. It has been rewarding to see the numbers of participants who come in so eager to get help, learn skills, gain employment and improve their lives. This organization doesn't give people a fish, it teaches them to fish! Samaritan also provides much needed interview clothing which is so important to self image when trying to market oneself. It is also able to provide some limited food assistance to folks who are working hard but still occasionally need some additional assistance. It has also helped me by allowing me to use my skills in providing resume writing help and providing basic computer skills instruction. A wonderful, wonderful organization offering practical, real help!
My son worked with Samaritan Ministry as an intern one summer twenty years ago, and I was so impressed with the organization that I joined in on their Christmas parties and other intermittent volunteer efforts over the years. Our church, St. Francis of Great Falls, has been a strong supporter with a member on the board for most of the years. When I retired, I joined as the Friday Front Office Coordinator at the Northern Virginia office. This is a great organization that gives individuals a chance to improve their lives with a trained social worker one on one as a participant in the "next step" program. We all need to take the next step, an I recommend you take the next step in your goal of ending homelessness supporting this organization with your time, talents, and treasure.