Joining God’s Work: Kerry Brubaker, Outreach Ministries Coordinator

The Outreach center serves 1,905 individuals a month through food assistance, supporting many in the local community and neighbors of Water Street. Designed like a small grocery store, guests come and line up right before opening.

Then they walk through, picking up various food like canned fruit, cereal, vegetables, frozen meat, usually eggs and dairy, and on the way out some bread. As Outreach Ministries Coordinator, Kerry makes sure we have the right food to give out. Her challenge is to get important food items together, and get shoppers what they need.

But she also manages a huge volume of food, making sure fresh produce and bread get prioritized over food that lasts longer. While she works with staff to bring food in, on Outreach days it’s mostly volunteers who help give out the food.

With these volunteers, Kerry has created a little Outreach family, with volunteers returning year after year to support Water Street. They always pray together, and sometimes do bible studies before opening.

There is such a diverse group of people seeking food assistance each week, she always encourages volunteers to keep an open mind, smile, welcome everyone, and treat each person with respect. “Don’t make judgements…everyone has a story,” she explains.

One example that stands out is an older man who used to drive his neighbor to outreach each week. She found out later he had been injured at Pearl Harbor and went on to fight in Europe. After returning to Lancaster he owned his own business.

He starting coming to Outreach to help a friend, but getting groceries for himself helped him keep up with bills while on a fixed income. “You just never know the story behind the people who stand in line,” she says.

 

“You just never know the story behind the people who stand in line.”

 

In a lot of ways Kerry’s own story has taken twists and turns. She started off with Water Street 17 years ago as a Women’s Residential Counselor. For a time she worked at another Mission with her husband in Ohio, and then out of a church with other “little church ladies” as she calls them.

Kerry came back in a totally different role and department in 2017 when President Jack Crowley asked if she would take over the Outreach Center. Throughout so many different roles, her constant flexibility comes from her desire to just follow God in whatever He is doing, loving and serving wherever there is a need. It’s something Kerry has been motivated to think about in her own life. “Rather than venturing off, and doing your own thing, see where God is at work and join Him.”

 

“Rather than venturing off, and doing your own thing, see where God is at work and join Him.”

 

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An Update from Jack 5/4/2020

12/17/2020

Dear Friends,

Throughout this season, we have encountered a number of challenges in operating our shelter safely. Thankfully we have been blessed to see no community spread among our guests. This is due not only to the work of our team, but also the ways that upgrades to our facilities came at just the right time.

For example, Providence Shelter, which opened in November 2019, provides additional spacing and a top-tier air filtration system. We have also been able to implement the same air filtration standards in our dining hall prior to the most recent wave of COVID.

Because a high percentage of our guests have preexisting health conditions, we have had to be diligent in our safety protocols, doing our best to ensure their safety. For us that has included implanting all CDC disinfecting, masking and social distancing from the very beginning. This has led to major changes in roles and responsibilities of staff. Staff have taken over disinfecting in shifts all over campus. They have also delivered much of our support services and programs through zoom, hosting counseling sessions and classes virtually and meeting in-person with plexi-glass dividers only when necessary.

For meals, we’ve changed preparation and delivery to help minimize interaction of guests who live in different facilities. At times that has meant delivering meals to certain Residential Floors so we can keep smaller groups in the dining hall. We have also had to restrict guests’ travel on and off campus to only essential trips such as going to work, the doctors, shopping etc., in order to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Another change in this season has been how we do intakes. Currently, the intake process requires new guests to be tested for COVID-19. They await their test results in a separate temporary shelter we have set up, before entering Providence Emergency Shelter.

All of these changes have been made while severely limiting the number of volunteers on campus. At one point, all volunteering was completely put on hold. Now, we are running with a third of our normal volunteers.

And it’s been tiring, for both staff and guests. We have had times where many staff were working remotely due to their own health risks. Other times where staff or guests have been quarantined due to exposures. But even with all of the schedule changes, increased overtime, and cross-shift working, our team has done an amazing job persevering through all of the challenges.

What to Expect This Winter Typically we have over 200 total guests on campus, over 100 in our Residential Programs over and 100 in our Emergency Shelters. Although our Residential capacity remains about the same, we have had to reduce the available beds in Providence Shelter to ensure safe spacing overnight from about 75 to 55.

Winter always presents its own challenges, so we anticipate this year will be no different. Women in our Providence Shelter have moved over to the shelter at St. Mary’s across the street, run by the Lancaster Food Hub. During their stay there they have full access to all of our services, including showers, food and staff support. Not only does having women shift to St. Mary’s enable us to free up additional beds for men, it will help us keep the shelter populations separate and limit the risk of spread.

Thank You We have been so encouraged by the support we have received this year. Without a community coming around us and our guests, we would not be able to keep our guests safe and continue to guide them in their restoration journeys. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.

Jack Crowley

President