Are you being called to help the homeless through Joppa?
Written by Dena Forret
St. Boniface Parish has said “yes” to a new outreach ministry to the poor, Joppa. Joppa is a great compliment to our current mission in El Salvador and a wonderful opportunity to tend to the needs of the less fortunate and the homeless in our own neighborhood. Parishioners are enthusiastic and quickly jumped aboard this new endeavor, forming a committee and taking on new responsibilities to engage the parish in this special calling.
Margaret Godwin has been a member of St. Boniface for six years and heads up the Welcome and Blessing Bags Committee. When she was transferred to the Wells Fargo Office in Iowa, Margaret, her husband Ted and their two sons, Bryce and Collin relocated from their home in Charlotte. It was a difficult transition for their family. The boys were in grades eight and six and Margaret had a busy traveling work schedule. After visiting several parishes in the area, they came to St. Boniface and felt “at home”. It took awhile, but the family finally found time to get involved in parish life. Margaret became a Eucharistic Minister and joined the Angel Tree team, bringing her boys along to help. Ted and the boys began to help with set-up for the Annual Turkey Dinner.
One Sunday while Margaret was reading the parish bulletin, she saw an article asking for donations of batteries and flashlights for Joppa. She did some research and learned more about the Joppa mission to end homelessness in central Iowa. Margaret visited the center, attended a volunteer meeting and was impressed with the number of volunteers, the mission and overall passion that existed to help the homeless. She states, “I remember a video they had on their website about a homeless family. It was during the winter months and I was overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness. While I felt blessed to have a warm home to raise my boys, I truly felt God was speaking to me take those blessings out to others, not just the material things but the blessings of being surrounded by love. I truly feel that is the mission of Joppa.”
“Joppa’s approach to the homeless individual is one of dignity, love and hope. They want to provide something special to clients as they leave the homeless camps and are placed in housing. They needed people to step up and help build on the idea of sheltering the homeless, to welcome them to the neighborhood and provide fellowship through personal visits. I wanted it to be more than just a plate of cookies or homemade bread, but rather new items the clients could use in their new homes. Clients who are placed in housing have nothing more than the clothes on their back and some items from their camp site.” Margaret met with Joppa and presented a Welcome Wagon Basket which included items such as cleaning supplies, kitchen items, towels, etc but it was also expanded to include something special for the client. What does this client love that would add a personal touch to the basket? Margaret continues, “I began with my family and a few friends supporting the donations and delivery of the baskets. When St. Boniface decided to support Joppa as a parish mission, it was a perfect match! To date we have delivered approximately ten baskets. The clients are overwhelmed by our kindness and parishioners delivering the Welcome Wagon Baskets have been personally touched through this ministry.”
The Joppa team saw another need in the community to provide unconditional love and support to clients living on the streets or in homeless camps through the gifts of Blessing Bags. The bags contain needed items as well as a Joppa card to provide the client with their contact information. Without any judgment, a Blessing Bag instead of money may be given to people we might encounter begging on the streets. The Blessing Bags are a perfect match with the Welcome Wagon Baskets and give the parish another option to support the homeless in Central Iowa.
Margaret has a passion for volunteering. Since one son is in college and another is a senior in high school, she sees now as the perfect time in her life to give back not only monetarily but also with her time. Margaret concludes, “We are all at different places in our lives. The mission of Joppa gives us the ability to not only “give back” but to also interact with others as St. Boniface works to support the homeless. The Joppa mission provides the opportunity to meet you where you are in your life.”