Bitterly cold temperatures impacted Minnesota the week of January 28, with the worst occuring Tuesday, January 29 into Wednesday, January 30. On Wednesday, all of the congregations hosting families through Beacon's Families Moving Forward program eagerly decided to keep their congregations open to families during the day (normally they're only in congregations overnight) so people wouldn't have to venture out into the cold. Three congregations - The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, the Hope House congregations in New Prague, and Trinity Lutheran in Long Lake - rallied to ensure all the logistics were covered and families felt comfortable.
Andrea Henneman is a host coordinator at Trinity Lutheran, and shared a bit about their experience and why they are so grateful to host through Families Moving Forward.
Trinity just began our sixth year of hosting families through Beacon's Families Moving Forward Program, and this was the second time we were able to keep families with us due to cold or snow. My initial reaction when I heard about the cold conditions was, “Oh I wish the families could just stay with us all day!” It was so great that this could happen! For me personally, it was nice to watch the families be able to sleep in and not have to rush off into the cold. Something as simple as “What do you feel like having for lunch tomorrow?” was very well received. It was also great seeing how the kids responded; they said "Wow, this is a great day! No school AND we get to stay here all day!” The whole “it takes a village” philosophy was in full swing at Trinity when people called me to ask how they could help. Everybody stepped in, which made things easier on the families and on us as host coordinators.
When I was living in Chicago, there was a man experiencing homelessness who hung out by a corner store I would go to. Because he was homeless, he wasn't allowed inside the store unless I escorted him in to buy something to eat. It broke my heart, and made me upset. When I moved to Minnesota, my pastor asked me how I'd like to get involved, and I knew it had to be with Families Moving Forward. It brought me closer to the idea that, in some indirect way, I was helping that man on the corner. I'm so grateful we got involved with Families Moving Forward - I've grown so much through these experiences!
The Families Moving Forward program has been an important part of out outreach ministry program at Trinity. We serve both globally and locally, and it is a great way to get people involved that would not be comfortable volunteering too far away from home. It is nice to focus on our own community of people in need right here in our own area. I believe this to be an important program for us, as it is a multigenerational volunteering opportunity that gets our middle school and high school youth working together with retirees and people of all ages. It has been a great way for our youth to see how fortunate they are and instill in them that any small gesture of kindness can really make a difference in the lives of all the kids that are serviced by the FMF program.