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COVID-19 Info

A Story from the COVID-19 Frontlines

When we heard this story . . . we knew we needed to share this blessing with you. Your prayers and your gifts are truly hard at work, aligning with God's plan and intervention in the lives of his children. 

Bryan Boleratz, EUMA's Director of Social Enterpise - along with his wife, Patti - were part of an effort to canvas downtown Erie. Their mission was to find any homeless person on the street during a particularly cold weekend and bring them to a short term overflow shelter at a local hotel. Bryan shared the following story from that night:

We had been searching one of the parking garages. We were on the last stairwell, rounding the corner to reach the top, when my eyes were met with a very scared, tired set returning my gaze. There was a woman, bundled as best she could, sitting on the hard, cold concrete - a few belongings clutched beside her. 

I paused, and she spoke first saying “you can come up."  I introduced Patti and myself, letting her know that we were canvasing the area looking for anyone who didn’t have a place to go for the night. It was obvious by the way she was set up, and the time of night, that this was where she was intending on sleeping. 

I let her know that they opened up a local hotel and were offering free rooms to anyone needing shelter to get out of the cold for the night, and asked if she would like to go there with us. Her mouth literally dropped open, her eyes welled with tears, and she simply asked, “Are you serious?”  With warm smiles, we assured her we were serious, and we would be happy to drive her there. 

She quickly took us up on our offer, and in her attempt to stand up, we realized she had been there a very long time. She could hardly move her legs - she was stiff and weak. With each of us on either arm, we gently helped her to her feet. 

I asked how long she’d been there, and she simply replied “all day."  Patti asked if she’d had anything to eat that day, and she mentioned that she had some peanut butter as she motioned to a small jar inside her bag. 

Once we got her to the ground level, I pulled the van around and picked her up. Patti offered her a bag of trail mix we had in the van, and it was that moment that we realized just how hungry that poor woman was. I have not seen a person eat so ravenously since we were down in Haiti helping our friend feed the neighborhood children near the garbage dump.  

As we were walking her into the hotel, she was marveling at the fact that she was going to have her own private room, a soft bed, a hot shower . . . things that we take for granted, but things that she probably hadn’t experienced in quite some time. It was a good night to be a part of God's plan.

Our Impact This Year

  • Adults and children sheltered

    695

  • Bed nights provided by Our Neighbors' Place

    6,862

  • Veterans exiting to permanent housing

    91%

  • People rapidly re-housed

    380

© 2020 Erie United Methodist Alliance

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