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About IHN

Trinity's Involvement

IHN Website

 

 

 

 

Inter-Faith Hospitality Network of Ambler (IHN)

(From the IHN Website)
IHN started in 1989 and serves homeless families in Central Montgomery County, providing extended shelter, food, and other help in one of the compassionate local churches and synagogues, which act as Host congregations. Buddy congregations provide supplementary services. If necessary, a family in need can remain for up to three months in the Network, although they are moved from one congregation to another during that time. Each congregation in the Network accommodates three families at a time, with special facilities at Hope Gardens set aside for them to use during the day. Host and Buddy congregations, relying on their volunteers, provide the families with overnight shelter, meals, transportation when necessary, and child care during meetings. Each guest family also receives assistance from a volunteer family advocate and budget counselor. The advocate and budget counselor, as a team, help the family to set appropriate goals, find employment if needed, locate and apply for affordable housing, locate subsidized child care, and develop a workable budget. 
 

 

 

 

 

Trinity's Involvement 

Most people in our neighborhood go through their daily lives not seeing homeless people living on their sidewalks. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” certainly comes into play, and many of us are not usually aware of just how many homeless people live right here in our hometowns.

According to statistics from the Interfaith Hospitality Network, (IHN) there are three times more homeless families than shelter beds available in Montgomery County. And the amount of shelter requests have doubled since 1989, (when IHN began serving the homeless in the Ambler area).

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that right here at Trinity, we are doing something about it. For those of you who don’t know, Trinity has been involved with IHN for the past 5 years, providing food, housing, transportation and childcare to three homeless families each year in the month of April. Our church is part of a “network” (a network consists of 12 churches who are each assigned one month a year to provide service). Sometimes, churches “buddy-up” together, as we have done with several local churches to help share the effort.

The bigger picture? IHN has helped more than 150 families get back on their feet. These are families who are unable to receive enough support from their own friends and family.

Can you imagine actually being without a home? Can you imagine if you were, how invaluable someone’s help would be to you? Especially if that person were a stranger to you? So what do our volunteers do to make such a difference?

First of all, it’s patience. The families that IHN helps are typically going through the most stressful times in their lives, and may deal with things very differently. Some are ashamed and embarrassed, and at times unwilling to reach out for the help they actually need. Others seek contact and are afraid of being alone. There is a lot of emotion here- and first and foremost, our volunteers work with that. Taken directly from the IHN volunteer handbook, “Volunteers… provide an experience for families that may be the most loving experience of their lives”.

Secondly, each volunteer takes on a specific role. There are several to choose from: Supper Volunteers (preparing and delivering meals), Transportation Volunteers, Linen Laundering, Child Care, Shopping and Overnight Volunteers (two people each night to oversee the families’ well-being during the night). In addition to individual volunteer tasks, there are teams of volunteers to help with aspects of the various assistance IHN offers, such as the Advocate Teams, the Parenting Program, Counseling and the Weekly Meeting sessions.

Altogether, to staff a month of service requires 50 – 75 volunteers. Recruiting this many people for a single effort is not an easy task. And most people are not sure what type of help or how much they are able to offer. The IHN coordinators are here to help you find the effort that best suits you, with boundaries that you are comfortable with. And there are few rewards greater than helping someone regain their independence. With Interfaith Hospitality, we are not just “giving the fish”, but we are also re-teaching the homeless families “how to fish”. And as Christians, this is literally and figuratively just the service we were called to do.