Tue, Nov 02, 2021
by Michael Lynn
On Monday, November 1st the Wesleyan Inn opened its doors to guests in the area. The Shelter initially opened around 9 years ago, the church staff formed connections with people during food giveaway/ church services but realized people were going out to sleep in the cold after the services had concluded. Pastor Lynda Keefer recalls, “That did not seem right to us. We have a big beautiful building that God has Blessed us with, why should people be sleeping outside?” They then opened their doors during a hurricane and thought “Why can’t we do this for people who are experiencing homelessness?” That vision lead them to getting all the permits and approvals through the township that were necessary to use the building for shelter. This move was motivated and lead by people in the church who have a heart for the community.
Besides providing shelter, the purpose of the Wesleyan Inn is to give people hope. Lynda continues, “To let them know that whatever they are experiencing, they are not experiencing it alone. That there are people who care, people who are gonna come alongside them, treat them with dignity, they’re gonna have fellowship, they’re gonna have friendship, and they’re gonna have hope.”
The Inn can house approximately 30 guests. Dana Antal, a fellow pastor at Wesleyan, describes it as “A space that’s like a long term stay.. Almost like coming to a home, or an extended stay at a hotel so they can feel like they have dignity.” Adding “We created a space with our showers, with our kitchen, with our washer and dryer, with our lounge area, so that when people come here they can believe that they’re in a place for a season, not a shelter but a home for a bit until they find their own home.. The intent is to make guests feel valued as a human beings, not another number in the system.” Dana concluded, “If we all did a little extra we would be able to eradicate the situation and lift up those who need to be lifted up so that they would know that they are accepted and valued in our community.”
Keeping the shelter running will require 2 volunteers to stay overnight along with a number of other volunteers who will check guests in, get them settled, find them a bed, do laundry, organize storage, bring in food, and other various jobs. All together about 35 volunteers will be needed to keep operations running smoothly between rotating shifts. The church is always welcoming new volunteers along with donations which include socks, coats, hats, toiletries, etc. along with financial donations. Donations can be accepted in person or through the Stroudsburg Wesleyan church website which will be linked below.
The next project for the church will be an indoor playground area where families can come during the winter months so kids have a safe place to play. Food and other needs will be fulfilled for families who visit during these times.
A final word from Pastor Lynda, “Big thank you to our community and to everyone who supports us. This is not something we do just as the Stroudsburg Wesleyan church, it’s a collaboration, a team effort, a community effort, I just want to say thank you to everybody who gives, supports and comes out.”