Published: February 19, 2014
One simple question uttered in the lobby of the Hotel Eleganté explained Interfaith Hospitality Network: "What do you need?"
Kathryn Lilley had told the 300 people attending the IHN Hearts for the Homeless Feb. 9 luncheon how she and her six children had lost everything and were rebuilding their lives with IHN help.
The newly single mom had dealt with one of the children's emergency medical condition, the family lost their home and Kathryn lost her business. Then they were homeless, until they found IHN. They had help finding a home and Kathryn got a job as a supervisor, they told attendees.
Stopping for a photo in the hotel lobby, the single mother mentioned she was having sinus surgery the following week. A deacon from one of the 22 IHN church congregations providing temporary housing and mentoring for homeless families overheard her and asked what Lilley and her children would need. That's all it took to set up a schedule to provide meals while Lilley was recuperating.
Last year IHN volunteers spent almost 16,000 hours to help 26 families with 100 children, said the nonprofit's executive director, Michael Royal. There is also volunteer and financial support from more than a dozen other congregations.
Royal turned to the unedited words of a child to explain why IHN volunteers do what they do, sharing a note appealing for divine help:
"Dear God, I am hear at the church helping thous who don't have homes or food. You don't relly know what your doing for someone until you know the person. My heart was cracked when someone from my own school was their with her brothers and sissters. I would like it if you would help them to get throu this. Amen."