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Faith In Action: Direct Service at a Shelter or Other Program

Activity time: 0 minutes

Preparation for Activity

  • Identify a nearby shelter for homeless families or survivors of domestic violence, or a program that serves meals to people in need.
  • Speak with a staff person for that program and ask permission to bring your group to visit. Offer to help cook and serve a meal, to play games with participants or other project that would be of use.
  • Arrange permission slips and transportation. Obtain any materials you might need.

Description of Activity

Tuckerman served the poor of Boston by building relationships with people who were in need. The best way for participants to experience Tuckerman's style of social service will be to engage in similar relationships themselves. Perhaps your congregation houses a shelter for the homeless or has an ongoing relationship with an organization which provides similar services. Make arrangements for participants in your group to spend time with the residents of a shelter or group home or clients of a program which provides meals.

In discussion with staff of the program you will be visiting, plan to be of service in a way appropriate to that program-cooking or serving a meal, reading to young residents, playing games, etc. Strive to participate in a form of service which involves direct conversation with residents/clients. For instance, distributing food at a food pantry will illustrate the theme of this session much more clearly than, say, stocking shelves at the same food pantry.

Before you go, ask participants what they expect to see and what they think the people they meet will be like. You might help the group think about asking residents or clients what they need in the context of the service you are planning. For example, children helping to serve a meal may have the opportunity to offer clients a choice of a side dish, rather than silently placing food on people's plates.

Take time after you return to process. Discuss:

  • What was surprising?
  • What was as you expected?
  • How did you feel while we were helping?
  • What interactions or conversations did you have with the people we were there to help? How did that feel?

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