Room in the Inn in Elizabethtown is in full swing, providing nightly shelter to those who need it most during the cold, winter months.
The program relies on volunteers to run smoothly. Leadership team member and Grace Heartland Church associate pastor Daryl Pepper said more volunteers are needed, especially Tuesday and Sunday nights.
According to Debbie Skala, Room in the Inn board secretary and coordinator for Grace Heartland Church, there are four main volunteer opportunities.
People can assist in preparing snacks and coffee before guests arrive, be overnight hosts, take care of breakfast, or do the cleanup and get the space ready for the next night.
Skala said breakfast probably is the shift they need the least amount of help with at this time.
“All the guests are friendly and pretty laid back, usually, and they are all very appreciative,” Skala said.
According to Skala, the purpose of Room in the Inn is to help keep people warm and fed while they are trying to figure out what they want to do next.
“I am really interested in helping people to move where they want to go, to help support people to move from where they are at to where they want to be,” she said, noting the main thing is to support them with the love of God.
“For me, I feel like it is being Jesus on Earth for people to help them to know God’s love as much as we can share it with them,” Skala said.
Jim and Sharon Strickland, who previously served as Room in the Inn coordinators at Grace Heartland for four years, were acting as hosts Saturday evening at the firehouse. Sharon said they enjoy getting to know the people at Room in the Inn and spreading the love of Jesus.
“We’re called to love everyone and love our fellow man and we love it,” she said. “I think we’re all in it for the same reason – love God, love people.”
When she and Jim were coordinators, Sharon said she would always tell people there is nothing to be afraid of regarding volunteering.
“These people are people just like you and me and your kids. Everybody gets on hard times. Everybody has someone in their family that has had a hard time,” she said. “So, just love on them like you would want somebody to love on your family member.”
Jim said when you get to know the people on a first name basis, you learn they may just be down on their luck, lost their job or something such as that.
These are mostly good people, and they have good hearts, Sharon said.
“They just want to feel wanted and needed and everybody wants to be loved,” she said.
Sharon encouraged people who might be interested in volunteering to jump in with both feet.
“People here will teach them the ropes and people want to talk and you talk to people and people want to be seen and heard. It’s wonderful,” she said.
According to Pepper, they usually have between 9 to 12 guests per evening and the partnership between churches, Warm Blessings Soup Kitchen and the City of Elizabethtown is working incredibly well.
The facility, including guests and volunteers, are encouraged to practice social distancing, wear masks, sanitize regularly and follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
For information, to volunteer or support the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org, go to the Room in the Inn website or find Room In The Inn Hardin County on Facebook.