A group of local churches, organizations and volunteers has joined forces to establish a temporary wintertime shelter for the homeless in Gloucester County. Some of the group’s organizers—St. James Anglican Church vicar Kevin Sweeney, Newington pastor Mike Gray, local Salvation Army director Darlene Lee, Susanna Wesley United Methodist pastor Garry Livermon and volunteer coordinator Debra Jo Jenkins—are shown standing in front of one of the host churches, Newington Baptist in Gloucester. Photo by Quinton Sheppard
A group of local churches, community organizations and volunteers is in the process of setting up temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months in Gloucester.
The community effort has organized under the name, “GUEST,” which stands for “Gloucester United Emergency Shelter Team,” and hopes to have shelter available for the county’s homeless men, women and families by sometime in January.
According to GUEST spokesperson Kevin Sweeney, the idea for the shelter came through the Gloucester-Mathews office of the Salvation Army and its director, Darlene Lee.
Sweeney, who is the vicar of St. James Anglican Church in Gloucester, said Lee’s office has been inundated over the years with requests by those needing temporary or emergency shelter. With no shelter available, the Salvation Army has been putting these families up in local hotels. However, they are only able to stay for a very short period of time because of the cost.
Local churches became involved as a result of homelessness being brought up among a group of local pastors that meets regularly for fellowship and prayer.
Seeing that all of the efforts so far for the homeless in the county have been stop-gap measures, the group decided it was time to come up with a solution to a problem they have seen grow and grow.