Compelled by Love: Lori Ober, Church Ambassador & Volunteer Services Assistant

From volunteering as a mentor to local youth, Lori learned she has a passion for seeing how God works in the life of just one person. She loved getting to sit down and chat with students about their lives—even saying to a friend, “If only I could get paid to sit across from people and hear what God is doing in their life, and have coffee with them—that would be the best job ever.”

Now, as Church Ambassador, she has the chance to sit with local pastors and church leaders, and do just that. Listen to their stories, and see how Water Street can serve or work alongside them.

“I get to sit across from Pastors, and hear about what Gods doing in their congregations, and celebrate that with them, and have cup of coffee,” she explains.

How We Serve

Part of her passion for the work of local churches comes from her strong desire to see and share the power of restoration—stemming from her own personal experience with restoration in her own life. For years, Lori found herself thinking about and talking about the theme of restoration, until finally someone said, “You know, you love restoration so much, you should work at Water Street.”

And as an ambassador of Water Street, Lori gets to share her passion for restoration every day.

It overflows naturally as she describes that here, restoration often comes not only from what we serve, but how we serve. “We are not just a place to sleep, and we are not just a place to get food as fantastic as those things are, we are a place to be able to pour hope and honor and dignity into people.”

”We are not just a place to sleep, and we are not just a place to get food as fantastic as those things are, we are a place to be able to pour hope and honor and dignity into people.”

Compelled by Love

In serving local churches, Lori sits down with pastors and helps them feel completely at home, to have an hour to pause, open up, and reflect on the blessings and challenges we are facing as a community. A few weeks ago, she met up with a local pastor even though she had been feeling completely drained.

Lori chose to be authentic about where she was—worn-out by hardships hitting her family. But in her exhaustion, God still moved.

After listening to this pastors heart for his congregation, Lori actually got to be part of planning out his next sermon. She was left astounded at how, even when we feel at our weakest, God can use us to advance His Kingdom and care for others.

And in our community, there are so many ways churches are seeking to spread the love of Jesus. In partnership with the local congregation, Lori helps us see how as a community we can keep love and Jesus at the top. “And so I often go back to I feel like Jesus told us to love and to love others, and we as Water Street, this is how we have been compelled by love.”

If you are a church leader or pastor and want to find out more about Water Street through a tour, or just meet up to share what God is doing in your congregation, contact Lori at (717) 538-5815 or lober@wsm.org! 

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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