Contact: Lila Lassetter Robb (434)962-6603
PACEM is a community-based effort of over 50 local congregations, which provides shelter and food for the area's homeless population during the winter months. St. Paul’s hosts PACEM women for twoweeks during the winter months. During those weeks volunteers are needed for setting up and taking down supplies, food preparation, hosting in the evening, and spending the night through the early breakfast hour.
Since the fall of 2004 the Charlottesville/Albemarle community has organized a massive effort called PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) to provide food and shelter for the area’s homeless adults during the coldest months.That first year, 159 homeless adults were assisted with food and shelter through PACEM. By far most of the people seeking shelter were men who were housed for one to two weeks at a time in local churches. During the first season the relatively few women who asked for shelter assistance were provided transportation and a voucher to spend the night in a local motel. St. Paul’s assisted Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, hosting men for two weeks each time, over these first two years of the program.
In the 2005-2006 season, PACEM provided shelter for just under 200 men who were given a total of 5,673 nights of shelter. During the same period 45 women, double the number in the previous year, sought assistance. By spring, the PACEM board had decided to begin a parallel program for women in the coming year, and they anticipated between ten and twenty women seeking shelter on a given night. After learning about the opening of the women’s program, which can operate in a smaller facility, the vestry voted unanimously to serve as a host church in 2006.
The PACEM Women’s Shelter opened at St. Paul’s in November of 2006. In those first two weeks we provided shelter, food and hospitality for nine women. Hosting again in early 2008 we had a total of 16 guests, serving anywhere from 9 to 15 on a given night. St. Paul’s welcomed a total of 19 women during our two weeks as hosts in February of 2009. A few of them stayed with us virtually every night, while several were with us only two or three nights. All our guests were grateful for the food, showers, clean clothes, safe place to sleep, and general hospitality provided during those two weeks by the 165 volunteers.
This year, PACEM’s intake site will reside at The Haven at First and Market each evening from 5:00 to 6:00. Those seeking shelter must check in there and are then transported to either the men's or women’s shelter in time for dinner around 6:30. The host churches provide a hot meal, the opportunity for a hot shower, time to socialize if desired, and a safe place to sleep. Most congregations offer means for doing personal laundry. In the morning, guests receive a simple breakfast, some snack items to carry with them, and transportation, if necessary, back to the center of town. A hot breakfast is available at the Haven.
Currently, about fifty-five congregations are involved with PACEM. The number of men being served ranges from 25 to 45, and women, from 5 to 15; although, this fall PACEM has established overflow sites to meet the large number of men being served.
At St. Paul’s volunteers assist in helping to set up and take down “hosting areas,” preparing and serving dinners, donating beverages and breakfast foods, spending the evening socializing with the guests, or sleeping overnight at the church. Many volunteers have found the hosting experience to be profoundly moving in spiritual ways. Getting to know others whose lives seem so very different on the surface has demonstrated to us over and over how deeply connected and similar all human beings are.
Please consider offering your help. There are many opportunities for individuals, couples and small groups to help make the guests feel welcome, cared for, and safe. Couples may want to come together for serving dinner, socializing in the evening, or staying at the church overnight. Parish groups, such as study groups, of half dozen or more people, might want to take on an entire evening meal, or the meal as well as the evening socializing.
St. Paul’s will be hosting the PACEM Women’s Shelter again this year from March 5 - 19, 2016. Beginning in February please look for sign-up tables in the Parish Hall shortly after the 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. services.
|8:00 a.m.||Holy Communion|
|10:00 a.m.||Holy Communion|
|5:30 p.m.||Holy Communion|