Homeless Ministry: Thanksgiving with 150 Homeless and 100 Volunteers in San Jose
Agape Fish Fund partners with local churches and volunteers to provide meals, supplies, and Christian support for the homeless in San Jose, California.
This Thanksgiving, the unhoused community in San Jose, California, didn’t have to forage for food. Instead, they were invited to a feast hosted at Forager.
Connecting the Community
The Friendsgiving event, officially called "Giving Thanks in the Valley of the Hearts Delight," was an idea concocted by Forager’s Heinz Jones and John Kim. Heinz graciously opened up the Forager lounge to different homeless populations within San Jose.
The purpose of the event was to share a meal with individuals who are currently living unhoused, with the intent of giving them back a sense of dignity and connection to the community. “Our hope was to not only send a bit of love to our homeless friends, but also to bring awareness to their struggles, and to connect them with the appropriate resources,” shared one of the event coordinators.
An event like this certainly brought the community together. It was a joint effort with Pastor Scott and Larry Johnson from CHAM, Justin Immamura with Trash Punx, Forager’s staff, and South Bay Church. South Bay Church, which is an Agape Fish Fund partner in homeless ministry, provided leaders to help coordinate, supplies to be donated, and volunteers to serve.
Sprucing Up and Dining Out
On Thursday, November 21, 2017, the day of the event, over 100 volunteers were busy from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. In the morning, teams of volunteers accompanied mobile shower trailers and went to various homeless encampments to provide showers, haircuts, and clean clothing.
Starting at noon, additional teams helped prepare hot food at Forager. They prepared for the dinner feast that day, and they also packaged individual to-go meals for distribution. This provided the guests with a second meal to enjoy later themselves or to share with their fellow unhoused.
At 2:00 pm, 150 unhoused guests were shuttled to Forager for the Thanksgiving feast, which lasted until 5:00 pm. Afterwards, the guests were transported back to their encampments and given care packages. The volunteers stayed until 9:00 pm to clean up.
Agape Fish Helps with Care Packages
Impacted by the Compassion and Grace of God
One of the South Bay event leaders shared the following:
There are countless stories from the individual volunteers who sat and had dinner conversation with our guests. The general consensus is that the guests were touched and beyond appreciative for this momentary act of coming together in love and connection. They felt like they were heard, and they felt the warmth and kindness of the volunteers. Some became emotional and thanked our volunteers profusely. Others asked for prayer or accepted our requests to pray for them.
Not only were the guests inspired, but the volunteers felt the same connection and joy of serving them. The event was not a one-way street. The unhoused community does just as much for us as we do for them. Each and every individual at this event, and even those who worked behind the scenes since day one, has been impacted by the compassion and grace of God. We came together as a community, and we hope to continue striving for that bond.
Agape Fish Fund thanks Ms. Chau Ngo from South Bay Church (NSJ Campus) for her contribution to this article, and Adam Brioza (@adambrioza) for the photos.
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