GUEST shelter experiences increase in clients

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jan 23, 2019 - 02:13 PM

With the Gloucester United Emergency Shelter Team (GUEST) program getting ready to enter its third month, the program has seen more clients than in seasons past, according to John Seltzer, the program’s executive director.

“In the first two months of operations this winter season, GUEST has been blessed to have helped over six people find their way home and bring an end to their homelessness,” Seltzer said. “We also helped King and Queen County solve a two-year missing person’s case and helped reunite that family during our first week of operation this winter season.”

According to Seltzer, GUEST has also partnered with the Essex County Homeless Organization (ECHO) this year, sharing a grant to provide it with new mattress pads for the clients it serves. “We give all the glory to God as we continue to move forward and serve in His image,” Seltzer said.

Upcoming events

This year, GUEST welcomed Petsworth Baptist Church as a host site for the night shelter. There will be a volunteer training event at that church next Thursday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. According to Seltzer, any person who wishes to volunteer in this ministry must attend a training class. “They only last about one hour and really give a small yet impactful insight into what this ministry is, and how God leads us to serve His children in these types of situations,” Seltzer said.

Also, GUEST and some partnering organizations will host a spaghetti fundraiser at The Courthouse Restaurant from 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9. Meals are $10 each and include all-you-can-eat spaghetti, a side salad, drinks and dessert. All proceeds from that event go directly to the GUEST shelter.

“These types of events are important for us in the respect that they allow us to maintain the operational funding that is needed to not only keep the doors of the shelter open, but also provide the necessities that our clients need during both the in-season and off-season,” Seltzer said.

Finally, Seltzer invited churches that are not host sites, but would like to support the GUEST program, to reach out to him. “I would be more than happy to come out and speak to your congregation and share what this mission is all about,” he said. “We are saved people who serve people. Regardless of their need; regardless of where they come from; our passion is to influence where they are going and help them find their way.”

GUEST is a coalition of religious and community organizations that provide overnight hypothermic shelter to the homeless of Virginia’s Middle Peninsula. Member churches serve as the program’s hosts on a rotating basis.