Monday, October 27, 2014

IHN, Sunday Oct 26, 2014

Sunday--the last day of our last host week of 2014 began early--very early!  Julie and Hugh Bowles were the overnight hosts and were expecting Jan and Kiera and Kiera's family by 9:00 pm.  They didn't arrive and at 2:30 am the Bowles lowered the gates to the parking lot.

The Take-Down crew:  Jayne, Denise, Terry, the McCartneys, the Martin-Williams, the Nesses and I arrived at 7 and went to work.

The Bowles,  and Tasha and Tatiana had to get up so we could strip their beds, and fold the frames and mattresses to send to the next church.  Bless Tatiana who didn't know they were moving (they began in the program on Wednesday).  When her Mom said "We go to a different church this evening,"  Tatiana got big tears in her eyes and said "But I like this church!"   And we liked her.

Tatina had been enthralled by Evening Host Mark's magic on Saturday night.  And on Friday night the Whitens were Evening Hosts and their grandchildren hosted with them.  Patty wrote "Our grandchildren enjoyed playing with the four children who were there.  Our granddaughter especially hit is off with Tatiana since they're so close in age and they had a fun time together.  So much so that as we were getting ready to leave and giving Tatiana a hug, she told Breanna that she wished she could stay and live there with her.  What a precious moment that was and I was especially touched that Tatiana used the word "live" rather than "stay" as I thought that indicated how well cared for she felt after being in the church for most of the week."  

My heart aches for these children who have to move week after week and see new people each day...  THANKS for being so loving and kind to them--it makes a difference, whether they ever express it or not.  And they touch our lives in very special ways.

The truck arrived and all the beds and bins were loaded in an assembly-line fashion.  The Take Down crew was good!   They vacuumed the floor, put things back in the proper places and just generally did everything that was needed.  The laundry was sorted into "likes"--all towels in one bag, sheets sets matched and bagged together, etc.  Our laundry volunteers do great work--and they are amazing "folders"...everything stacks neatly on the shelves.  This week the Sunday laundry volunteers were Zanne Hunt, Sarah Bryan, Jayne Bailey and Denise Horton.  

The food was sorted and boxed to take to the Day Center for future meals, much too good to toss.  We took Tasha and Tatiana to the Day Center and left the Van at the First Baptist parking lot across the street.

The Day Center Hosts Sheila Marshall and Bert Prestegard  arrived at 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon.   Brooking DuPriest came a bit later and helped with a couple who came in looking for a place to stay.  Our volunteers got them food from Our Daily Bread, which operates from First Baptist across the street.  They provided supplies and some money to help them reach their final destination Charleston.  There are so many in need.  Those three women touched the lives of this couple passing through Athens.

All three IHN families were at the Day Center with all their things, and I drove the Van and Denise followed me to Watkinsville First United Methodist  Church--the next host congregation.  We hugged everyone good-bye and passed them into other loving arms.

Thank you to each volunteer from CCI and First Pres this week.  YOU  make this work and it makes a difference in the lives of these Mothers and their children.  Keep them in your prayers.

When all the guests were safely at the next congregation and the Van was parked and locked, Denise and I shared a bottle of wine--and raised our glasses to our wonderful Coordinating Team, the excellent Team that will begin in January 2015 and to the best volunteers ever!!

MARK YOUR CALENDAR, January 11 - 18, 2015...our next IHN Host Week.  See you in the Pit!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

IHN Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Saturday is a great day for our guests...and it was especially nice today since all three Moms and children got to sleep a little later.  Kiera didn't have to go to work today after all.

Kitty Kellogg and Ed Law made sure everyone was up in time for Daryl Magrino's extra special breakfast!  Daryl found out last night that the Fellowship Hall was set up for a wedding reception--so breakfast couldn't be served there.  Not to be deterred, he moved a table into the kitchen and the bountiful breakfast was served right there--a fun way to start the day.  Daryl prepares a wide variety of delicious things, plus cooks eggs to order for everyone.  A real treat for all.

Erik Ness drove the Van and took Jan, Tasha and Tatiana to the Day Center and Kiera and family to her Mother's.

I (Kitty Donnan) was the On-Site/On-Call Coordinator and Robbie Bryan was the "shadow" (though much more) for the new team.  Clean sheets were put on the Host Beds, along with mints on the pillows.  We walked to First Baptist and got Tasha and Tatiana...everyone else is finding their own ride back to the church by 9:00 pm this evening.  Robbie drove us all back to FPC.  When we came by the front of the church Tatiana realized there was a bride having her picture made.  So after parking and going inside  she and Robbie and I went back to see the bride and groom.

And what a beautiful bride--and handsome groom!  Debbie was married by her grandfather John Kipp and she was radiant.  She was so gracious and gave Tatiana a big hug and told her to enjoy the "candy bar" that was still up from where the reception had been.  Robbie ran down and asked Tasha's permission which was given--and Tatiana was thrilled with seeing a real bride plus getting some special candies.  She is such an adorable and personable little girl!  It is nice to have time with her.

The special Saturday continued with the dinner provided by Paul and Carol Kurtz--they had tons of food because I didn't get the word to them about the two families who decided to stay out til 9:00.  They had beautiful roasted chicken,  green beans,  garlic bread,  warm apple slices, grapes and brownie bites.  It was appreciated and enjoyed!

 Lizz Berstein and Mark Hall, Evening Hosts, brought more treats in addition to their warm personalities.  Mark played Fooseball with Tatiana before dinner.  Last I looked she was winning.   And Mark is quite the magician.  He got me to stick my finger into an apparatus with two finger at the top and a grape at the bottom and --whammo, he cut the grape in half and Tatiana let out a shriek, and I admit to being a bit nervous.  He had lots of other tricks up his sleeve and I'm sure they all had a fun evening.  I hated to leave.

Julie and Hugh Bowles are the overnight hosts.  I hope everyone sleeps well on this last night for our host weeks of 2014.  God bless and keep one and all.

Friday, October 24, 2014

IHN, Friday October 24, 2014

Friday morning before sunup found Denise outside the gate of the garage...Kiera,  needs to leave by 5:45 am is to open the gate each morning at 5:30 so the early driver can get in.  Sleep got the best of her today.  Denise reached Overnight Host Elaine Johnson by phone (what did we do without them?)  just as Kiera came flying out to open the gate.  It was rush, rush to get her family ready and to the Van--Van...where is the van?

A case of miscommunication (mine) to new Van Drivers, who had proven their mettle by being extremely flexible last evening!  I told them to leave the van "at the church"--which they did, at the church where they picked it up.  Makes perfect sense.  Of course what I said was not exactly what I meant.  I meant the other church--FPC!   Sorry Al and Heidi --don't give up on driving the van with us!  And sorry Denise, but of course you managed to get the guests where they needed to be on time.

Denise got Kiera and her three children to her mothers.  Then came back and got Tasha and Tatiana and went to the Day Center to wait for the school bus.  Then back to FPC and Denise's duty was over, except for getting herself back to First Baptist to get her own car.  She just encountered one young drunk along the way...and by that time was certainly wide awake!  He went one way and she another, and she was definitely the steadier of the two.

Elaine and Tim Johnson reported a quiet Thursday evening, the kind we like!  They made sure Jan and her three children were up and ready for the day this morning.

Tommy Jackson drove the van again and after dropping Jan and family at the Day Center took Tasha for a job interview.  Tommy--you took her to an important place, because she was offered a job and will start the training on Monday.  Yea!!

The On-Site/On-Call Coordinator was Erik Ness and Paige Oelke was "shadowing" and helping so she will be ready to do this for our next host week in January.  They got the beds made, and everything in order for guests and volunteers.

Denise was back for afternoon van driving and got Tasha, who is still suffering from a sore foot/ankle, and Tatiana and took them to the church.  Jan's three children are staying with family for the week-end and they won't be returning to FPC.

Denise made a later pickup of Kiera and family.  She learned the good news that Kiera does not have to go to work in the morning...know that she and her children will enjoy having a rare later wake up tomorrow morning.

Steve and Patty Whiten were  the Evening Hosts, ably assisted by their two grand-children.  It is always nice to have youngsters in the volunteer corps.  One made a fine foose-ball partner.    Bob and Nancy Bostrum brought dinner which was enjoyed by all:  Broccoli, chicken and cheese casserole, wild rice, carrots and rolls.  Yummy!!

 Kitty Kellog and Ed Law are the Overnight Hosts.  They can go to sleep dreaming of Daryl's wonderful breakfast tomorrow morning--the highlight of the FPC/CCI Host Week.

It has been a good week so far, with really nice guests and very flexible volunteers.   God Bless everyone.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

IHN, Thursday Oct 23, 2014

I got to FPC at 5:30 am to do the early shift of Van Driving.  Overnight Host Sara Kipp was up and making coffee and greeted me with her usual smile.  I got to meet our new guests who arrived last night, Mom Tasha and cute 8 year old daughter Tahtiana.  Kiera's little one spent last night with grandmother so just Kievonta and Jarquavious to go with Kiera this morning on the Van--and they were the first stop.  The benefit of this time of day is the traffic is sparse to none.  We then went to the IHN Day Center to wait for the school bus for Tahtiana, which arrived about 6:30 goodness that's an early start for little kids.

Tasha and I headed back to FPC.  Tasha went back to bed (good choice!).   She is having trouble walking because of an injured ankle.  Thankfully she has a doctor's appointment this afternoon.  I had a nice visit with John Kipp before he began his very busy Thursday (at least he didn't have far to go to get to work--just up the steps).  Jan and family were still asleep which is as it should be at this time of day.

Sara did the laundry today.  Van Driver Chuck Toney arrived to take Jan, Ashley, Don and Madison along with Tasha to the Day Center.

The changes for the day began early this morning...Tasha can't walk, because of her ankle, to take Tahtiana to her after school event as had been planned.  Got a message to the afternoon van drivers Al & Heidi Davison.  Before they did the first pick up there were two other changes...Kiera doesn't work late tonight after all and will need to be picked up.
Then NO, never mind, Kiera has  found a ride for them to FPC.

Susan Thackray is the On-Site/On-Call coordinator for today and got the sheets changed on the Host beds and made sure everything was ready for our guests and the Thursday volunteers.

Tasha's doctor called in meds for her and the Davison's stopped to get them.  Well,  the pharmacy is
s-l-o-w...  They were concerned those waiting in the Pit would be concerned.  I tried to let Susan know they would be late arriving,  also the meal preparers, and the evening hosts--but had to leave messages for all.

The Davison's first time to drive the van began and ended with things a bit out of the ordinary.  Though as someone said "normal" is a setting on a dryer and life isn't like that!  Our volunteers continue to demonstrate great flexibility and good cheer for which we are quite grateful.

Megan and Brad Sperr, and of course William,  had a  Barbecue dinner--always a hit!  Our guests do not go hungry.

Margaret Johansen and Tanna Nicholson were the evening hosts.  Hearing nothing to the contrary I'm thinking it was a quiet evening.  Early mornings mean early to bed also!

The Overnight Hosts are Tim and Elaine Johnson--hope everyone slept well.

Thanks to one and all for the many things you did today.  Sweet Dreams, God bless one and all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Oct 22, 2014

Madeline Van Dyck got up in the wee hours of Wednesday morning for van driving duties and drove Kiera and family to Keira's Moms for work and school pick ups and for the Mom to keep little Kemya.

Madeline went back to FPC and joined the other Overnight Host Winston Stephens in the morning routine. Tommy Jackson picked up Jan and her family and drove them to the Day Center where the school bus picks up the three children.

Yesterday Barb Laughlin picked up the laundry from the first half of the week and took them home to wash--an important part of our host week.

In the afternoon Jayne Bailey was once again the van driver for the third day in a row...thanks Jayne.  She picked up Jan and family and Keira and family.  We had thought Keira was to work late both Wednesday and Thursday evenings--but mid-day learned that she would get off at the regular time today.  This week has been full of changes,  life is like that.  We so appreciate the flexibility of our volunteers.

Denise Horton was the On-Site/On-Call Coordinator and Terry Nestor worked with her.  They moved the Host Room  from a regular room to the storage closet, since the third family arrived tonight and guests have "first dibs" on the real rooms!  Four beds got clean sheets.  The storage closet is large and Kim keeps it beautifully, so it is not a bad place to spend the night.

Terry Nestor and Jayne Bailey are the Evening Hosts.  The guests preferred to eat in the Pit, so FPC Wed Night Supper food was brought downstairs:  Tilapia, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans and there was still delicious Pork Loins and mashed potatoes from last night, which were heated up and as Denise said "Everyone enjoyed the feast".  It was topped off by home-made cupcakes baked and decorated for Halloween by Jayne.

Our new guests Tasha and her daughter Tahtiana (age 8) arrived a bit after 8:00 and Terry and Jayne provided Orientation.  Regina, the IHN staff person who works with the guests, was also there to talk with her again.  Tasha had been for an early evening job interview and that looks promising.  Sure hope that will work out well.

John and Sara Kipp are the overnight hosts.

Please say a prayer for all our families and volunteers.  Life can present difficult situations for all of us and we never know what others are facing.  God bless you one and all

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IHN, Tuesday Oct 21, 2014

Tuesday morning got started early with Kiera and her children up, dressed and just about ready to go when I arrived at 5:35 am.  Kiera got the children's little backpacks filled with tasty lunch items, thanks to Michelle's good shopping.

Everyone else was still asleep as we turned out the lights and headed to Kiera's Moms.  The bonus at this time of day is there is no traffic and the stars are bring, which Kiera's boys enjoyed seeing.  Soon I was back at the church to leave the Van, and it was still dark and sleepy in our IHN quarters--yea.

Lynn and Happy were the overnight hosts and made sure Jan and family were ready to go.  Richard Lane got them to the Day Center to catch the bus to school right on time.

Terry McRae was on On-Site/On-Call Coordinator for Tuesday and he and daughter Elizabeth came to the Pit about noon and made up the host room beds (Terry gives Elizabeth 90% of the credit, just as a good Dad should do!)  Don DeMaria arrived at 4:30 to join Terry and learn more about the way the Coordinating Team works and to help get everything ready for our guests.

Jayne Bailey drove the afternoon van (again).   She picked up the Van, and then  families and brought everyone back to FPC.  Along the way she learned that there was no hot water last night for showers at FPC--uh oh.

Susan Ferguson brought the dinner which got rave reviews.  A delicious pork loin,  mashed potatoes, salad and cup cakes.  Yum!

Ben, Molly and Crawford Brunjes were Evening Hosts.  Ben called to tell me the hot water wasn't working (at that point I hadn't talked with Jayne).   He said he tried to find the water heater to see if he could get it to work.   I did the only thing I knew to do--call Roger Burbage!  He told me where the water heater is located, and said he'd get in touch with a plumber tomorrow. need, Ben found the water heater while I was on the phone with him giving Roger's directions.  Not too long afterward he sent me a text: "the water heater is working again!"  Yea Ben--thanks for being so handy!  Hope you are teaching Crawford these important skills, well perhaps when he is a bit older.  We have the best volunteers.  I am sure our guests were thankful, since my only suggestion was to heat water in big pots on the stove upstairs--not quite the same as a nice hot shower.

Madeline Van Dyck and Winston Stephens are the overnight hosts tonight...and I hope all sleep well and it is an uneventful evening.

God bless you one and all.

Monday, October 20, 2014

IHN, Sunday Oct 19 and Monday Oct 20, 2014

The final FPC/CCI IHN Host Week for 2014 began on Sunday.  This coincided with the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens.  We are proud to be part of this network of congregations helping families in need.

The week started at 1:45 when the Set-Up crew gathered to get The Pit ready for our IHN guests.  Frequent Set Up Volunteers Carl Bergmann and Mary Peace helped show the routine to four from 2015-17 Coordinating Team:  Jayne  Bailey,  Robbie Bryan,  Terry Nestor and Paige Oelke .  (The other two new Coordinating Team members Donna Gerhardt and Don DeMaria were not able to be there)  Denise Horton and Kitty Donnan were also part of the crew.  I am amazed that two of this crew also ran the AthHalf--Denise and Paige.  Are they good or what??

The truck arrived promptly at 2:00 and the beds and bins were rolled off and put into the correct rooms and places.  Once again we realize how wonderful it is to have almost everything right in the Pit!  It makes set up a breeze.  Thanks again to KIM NESS and the YOUTH for being so hospitable, giving us two closets and making us feel welcome.

Beds were made, lamps plugged in, name tags written, windows covered for privacy, rules posted, toys gathered and the set up was complete.

Michelle Clendin-Shaw brought a lot of wonderful food for our guests to have for breakfast, snacks and to make their lunches...a bountiful contribution, which will be enjoyed by all!

Not only is this host week an anniversary...but it is proving to be unlike others in a number of ways.  Just reminding us that the # 1 quality for an IHN Volunteer is FLEXIBILITY!

Instead of 5:00 pm the guests arrived at 3:30--but with all the good help we were ready.  Emmanuel Episcopal was the IHN host last week and they also hosted the 10th anniversary celebration, so they had a lot going on.  Ken Sherman, IHN Executive Director drove the van and delivered the guests.

We were happy to welcome two delightful families:  Jan and her children Ashley (14), Don (13) and Madison (11).  Keira and her family Kievonta (7), Jarquavious (6) and Kemya (2).

They got settled into their rooms, and the children enjoyed some fruit and some time playing the games in the Pit.

A bit before 5 both families got back into the Van and headed to Emmanuel for the celebration with Denise in the drivers seat.  Terry, Jayne and Kitty went in cars and we all sat together.  It was a nice program and the room was full of people and good spirits.  Lee and her children (Kawani, JR & Zanora), who were guests with us in August were there and it was great to see them again.  A shout-out was given to Bert Prestegarde who was the first FPC Coordinator...all by herself.  It has taken six of us to do what she did!  Thanks Bert for getting us off to a good start.

Terry held Zanora--who celebrated her first birthday with us in August--and soon she had a sleeping girl in her lap.  Lee  spoke about her experience as an IHN Guest and did a really nice job.

After the program there were refreshments, and all of us enjoyed them.   Then we went back to FPC.
Don and Maggie DeMaria were there with many boxes of Pizzas, and a nice salad along with yummy cookies.  The fact that we had just had some "refreshments" did not keep anyone from enjoying a delicious dinner!  Pizzas hit the spot!  And kudos to Don--who ran the AthHalf and Maggie--who was in the cheering crown--and both managed to bring dinner and join the guests in eating and conversation.  Thanks for being in such great shape you two.

Steve Thackray and Bruce Miller were the Evening Hosts.  Bruce did double duty as he and David Alper were the overnight hosts.

MONDAY morning began early with Denise driving the van at 5:45 am to take Kiera and her children to her Mothers house...where the older two get the bus to school, and the two year old stays with her grandmother, and Kiera gets picked up for her job.  Denise took the van back to the church,  and David opened the door not only dressed but already with his name tag on!

Richard Lane drove Jan and her family to the Day Center where they took a shower and changed clothes.  They didn't realize we have showers at the church...a nice plus for our guest, since they are just across the hall in the Pit.  After today they will get dressed at the church and everyone will get to sleep a bit later.

The On-Site/On-Call Coordinator for Monday was Madeline Van Dyck.  She was joined by Jayne Bailey.  The new coordinators will each be with us one late afternoon to see what this job is about.  Together they put clean sheets on the overnight host beds, and mints on their pillows.  They made sure everything was ready for the guests.

Then Jayne, another double-duty person, drove the afternoon van to pick up Keira & her family.  (Jan and family had a meeting at school and had a ride back to FPC.)    Imagine Jayne's surprise when she realized the gas tank was on empty--very empty!  This doesn't happen often, but it always makes your heart beat faster when it does and you have a van full of tired children, to say nothing of their Mom who had worked all day.  And as happens, no gas station in sight.  Jayne made the wise decision to head straight back to the church and unload everyone.

Smith Wilson to the rescue!  He and Dianne were the Evening Hosts and he took the Van and got it filled up (he will be reimbursed for the gas--and thanked for the effort!!)

Bertis and Kathryn Downs and family brought the delicious dinner:  grilled chicken, vegetables, salad, fruit, bread, cookies and mini-cupcakes.  It was a big hit!  And I am sure that Jan and family were thrilled to find these things waiting when they returned from their school meeting!  Guests never go hungry during our Host Week.

Overnight hosts are Lynn and Happy Dicks.  They will make sure the overnight goes well.

ONE MORE THING...we found out today that a third family will join us Wednesday evening.  Tasha and her daughter Tahtina (8).  We look forward to welcoming them "home" for the rest of the week.

We are grateful to all our volunteers.  In the 10th anniversary program there were some comments about what was most helpful to guests while in the IHN program.  Some of the responses included:

"Being treated with respect",  

"The security of knowing that my kids and I had a stable home",

"Love, kindness, concern, thoughtfulness"  

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO FOR OUR GUESTS!  We are off to a good start.
Sweet dreams, please remember our guests and volunteers in your prayers.