NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 22, 2011) – Homeless and low-income residents here will soon have a nicer place to eat on Saturday nights thanks in large part to two youth groups from across the country who assisted New York Covenant Church in preparing a new dining room.
The New York church operates Isaiah’s Room, a soup kitchen and community outreach, every Saturday night that serves as many as 40 guests, but the church needed space specifically designated for the ministry.
Forty high-school students from Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato, Minnesota, traveled to help the church on July 2, and they were followed the next Saturday by 15 high-school students from Highrock Covenant Church in Arlington, Massachusetts. The groups worked alongside the New York Covenant Church’s teen Ignite program.
They transformed a “cavernous” supply room into a permanent home for the soup kitchen, which also includes space for clothing and other items to be given away, says Timothy Clark, a member of the New York congregation. They also cleaned and painted the entire church.
A teenager from the Crossview church was asked to paint a mural in the new dining area. “Her only instructions were to paint something that would make a homeless person happier if he or she were to see it while eating with us,” says Clark. “She succeeded beyond what we could have imagined.”
Just as important was the interaction the students initiated with the dinner guests, says Clark. “They had some fascinating discussions.”
Isaiah’s Room actually started as Isaiah’s Bus, a mobile outreach to the homeless in the South Bronx. It became a fix-based ministry six months ago, Clark says.
The soup kitchen is an opportunity for the church to develop relationships with the guests, says Clark. “We don’t want it to be a place where we serve some food and then send them on their way.”
As a result of those relationships, the church has been able to help their guests in other ways, which have included helping them move into new homes.