Each January I begin to gear up for the two weeks in which Christ the King hosts the Winter Nights Shelter. This year Christ the King will be hosting Winter Nights from Monday March 27th – Sunday April 9th. This winter has been particularly cold and rainy and I have been thinking about the homeless a lot these past weeks. I am comforted in knowing that our community can make a bit of difference for homeless families and assure that fewer children are faced with sleeping in cars during these frigid nights by participating in this rotating family shelter.
Let me share a little information for those unfamiliar with Winter Nights. The Winter Nights Program in Contra Costa County provides a clean, safe, and warm facility at night and a daytime services center during winter for homeless families with children. Congregations throughout Central and East Contra Costa provide space, meals, and volunteers on a two-week rotating basis. Winter Nights Shelter last year provided:
Winter Nights is an emergency shelter so it is understood that families can only participate in the program once. As a host, Christ the King transforms our parish gym into a shelter space. The shelter opens at 5 p.m. each weeknight and clients are off site by 7 a.m. The shelter is open all day Saturday and Sunday. During the 2 week stay we provide food for breakfast, brown bagged lunches, as well as a hot, home cooked meal every night. Part of the obligation of every host community is to make sure that there is a representative from the parish on site at all times. To fulfill that obligation, we even have volunteers who arrive at 8 p.m. and sleep on air mattresses in the parish hall until breakfast servers come in at 6 a.m. On a typical weeknight, clients arrive at 5 p.m. and we have available for them an after school snack. At this time kids play, volunteer tutors help with homework and families settle in after a long day. At 6:30 volunteers, clients, and staff circle up to have announcements and say grace and then dinner is served. After dinner we sometimes have a fun activity, a therapy dog, or a service someone has volunteered such as hair cutting available and by 8:00 p.m. lights are out. Weekends are the hardest times to serve because though we need volunteers on site, clients are free to go to the park or movies or sign out to see their families so we never know how many folks will be around. Over the years many ministries and individuals have helped by providing meals, volunteering, or donating food. This year we will be changing the way we sign up ministries and individuals to volunteer. We will be asking ministries or groups to “adopt a night”. Along with bringing dinner they will be responsible for helping to run the shelter from 5 p.m.- 8 p.m. This takes from 5-8 volunteers so even a small group can volunteer. Individuals who would like to help will be asked to come to a training the week before the shelter starts that will prepare them for serving and at that training will have the chance to volunteer for various jobs. If your ministry or group is interested in adopting a night, or you are an individual willing to plan an activity, bring a therapy dog, or provide another service please contact Kate Doherty (246-1128) to get on the schedule.
8:00am, 5:00pm (vigil)
7:00am, 8:00am, 9:15am, 10:45am, 12:15pm, 6:00pm (youth mass)
8:00 am, 6:00 pm;
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 12 noon-7:00 p.m. (except summer)