'God's house'

"'God's house'" Continued...

Issue: "Effective compassion," Sept. 2, 2006

Weekly meetings with personal mentors give participants the extra support they need to persevere. For men who grew up without fathers, a mentor may be the first role model of what a Christian man looks like. Volunteers are encouraged to take the men out to the store, play games, hold Bible studies, and initiate various public activities to give them an idea of how a man should behave in society. But Guiding Light sometimes fails to recruit enough mentors for every participant. About eight of the men lacked mentors in August.

Daniels seeks volunteers who are "stouthearted, compassionate, courageous people," preferably but not necessarily Christian. Everywhere he goes, he asks for business cards and invites people to visit the shelter, hoping they themselves or someone they know will want to get involved. Since participants are predominately black and many staff and volunteers white, Daniels considers the program an opportunity for inter-racial connection "where the white suburbanites can come and roll up their sleeves."

Some participants took jabs at the food menu and at shelter rules, but many praised S.A.V.E.'s effectiveness. "I feel the Spirit of the Lord working on my life," said Jerry Craft, 55. A drug and alcohol abuser, Craft had entered the program a second time after relapsing and losing his job. Now he says his faith has been rekindled and he is enjoying the support of a small, close-knit community.


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