Susan Newman discovering needs of a homeless gentleman.
From the Chesapeake Curents
posted on March 23, 2017
Susan Newman, a member of the Living Word church in Glen Burnie, Md., sought a new way for her congregation to help the homeless population in the community, and as a result, founded EMBRACE Street Smart Ministry. She spent a year volunteering with a group who takes hot soup to homeless populated areas in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, then took her newfound knowledge and experience and applied it in an area south of Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Glen Burnie during the summer of 2016.
Fellow church members Denzel Warren (a Baltimore City police officer), Kimberly Pierson, Mariana White, Melanie Herrera (a social worker), and Odwayne Dillon have joined in the effort as key leaders. The group assesses the needs of homeless individuals they encounter—there are some 100 homeless persons living in tents in a wooded area of Brooklyn—and provides items donated by the congregation such as new underwear, deodorant, and ramen noodle cups.
In December 2016, Newman and Herrera helped Danielle, a homeless woman who was living in the woods by Wal-Mart, find permanent housing. Danielle was panhandling outside a grocery store where Newman shops and Newman engaged her in conversation. Newman took her out to breakfast and learned her story. It seemed like Danielle had a lot of things in place, says Newman, but just couldn’t seem to make them all come together. So Newman enlisted the help of Herrera who used her contacts as a social worker to find Danielle a place to live.
The ministry has engaged new church members (one who was baptized as a result of the evangelistic meetings held in the fall of 2016) and given longtime members an exciting new purpose. On Sabbath, March 18, 12 volunteers met and organized teams and coordinated outings and drivers. A young Brooklyn man who has been taking Bible studies with a church member offered the use of his truck and helping in finding a shed to house additional supplies.
“I feel like this ministry is so much bigger than helping the homeless,” says Newman, a high school special education teacher. She says a family of one of her public school students has become involved in helping, too. “[The ministry] is a witness to other people, and we can see the ripple.”