Honesdale shelter beckons the homeless
While he admits that many church members and community members pitch in to help make the shelter program happen, “It’s not really so hard to do this,” he adds. “The building has to be heated, the electricity is on, why not use this space for people who need it?” he asks. This was exactly the conversation he and his wife, Susan, were having three years ago when the idea for the shelter came up. They knew about similar shelters in the Lehigh Valley, and to them, it just seemed like the right thing to do. They started with a few fold-out cots and some sleeping bags. Since then, they’ve accumulated a nice supply of other materials.
Everyone who comes gets a small pre-packed plastic bag with a bar of soap, a tooth brush and paste. There’s a tall storage shelf with pillows and towels and other necessary supplies.
In the big open room, there’s place for men on one side and women on the other, with a row of chairs and tables down the middle. Lights are turned out at 10 p.m., but Fr. Erb remarks how people who spend their days wandering the streets or going from one warm place to another to sit and get warm, are usually tired and ready for sleep.
Fr. Erb works with other agencies and organizations in town to help the homeless. Partners in this community-wide safety net also include the county’s emergency services department, the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services, the Area Agency on Aging, Victims’ Intervention Program, the borough’s police department, Wayne Memorial Hospital’s emergency room and security staff, Trehab and other social service organizations. Anyone who needs shelter, or anyone who knows someone who needs shelter can call any of these agencies or organizations. Fr. Erb also freely gives out his phone number, 570/241-2685.
By week’s end, just two homeless people had come to Grace Church to spend the night, which concerns Fr. Erb because he knows there are other people out there who need shelter.
Caring for others, he says, “is what we’re called to do.” And then he adds, “You know it’s not so hard for someone to lose a job, or lose their house,” he observed. “It’s the idea that there but for the grace of God, go I.”