Helping our Unsheltered Neighbors

June 28, 2021

I wanted to let you know about an exciting opportunity to help our unsheltered neighbors, which is in the works in our city. In May, The Voluntary Action Center announced they are taking the lead in working to build a facility that will provide emergency shelter, meals, dental care, and other wrap around services for those who are homeless in our community. For many years, First Baptist has been involved in Room at the Inn and often served as one of the locations for the winter shelter in Columbia. Through our work with Room at the Inn, we learned firsthand about the undeniable need for a permanent shelter. This year alone, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Room at the Inn provided almost 4,000 cots over a 12-week period in Columbia. The need is great and this announcement by VAC is a significant step in making the dream of a permanent shelter a reality. As a slight aside, I want to mention First Baptist member Mark Thomas serves on the VAC board and was a significant contributor in VAC’s decision to take on this project. Thank you, Mark!

Before I tell you more, I also want to give a shout out to Columbia Faith Voices for their leadership. As you may know, Columbia Faith Voices is a multi-faith grassroots organizing movement that works at the intersection of faith and non-partisan political engagement to address the root causes of pain in our community. First Baptist has been involved in Faith Voices for many years and Julie Walker currently represents our church at the meetings. Faith Voices was the organizing catalysts that worked behind the scenes to help make this initiative with VAC possible. They brought together leaders from Room at the Inn, Turning Point and Loaves & Fishes to talk about the need for a facility, which would combine services to our unsheltered neighbors under one roof.

To date, Voluntary Action Center has put together an Advisory Board to guide the project. I have been asked to serve on the Board and readily accepted. The facility will be a multi-million-dollar project; some of the funds for the project will come from President Biden’s next stimulus package and other funding will come from fundraising efforts. We know as individuals and as a church, we will want to take part in the fundraising and organizing efforts to help make this much needed facility a reality. I am excited to be a part of the Board and look forward to bringing First Baptist along in the work!

With Gratitude,

 Pastor Carol McEntyre

Tags: shelter, helping, vac, voluntary action center, columbia faith voices

Back to Pastor Carol's Blog