Three years ago, several members of the community began a conversation about the homeless situation here in Delta County. While several people in the communities within the county would rather have ignored the situation saying there was no homeless problem here, there were a number of people who knew the problem was very much present.
Those realists began the process of providing a shelter for the homeless of the county during the cold winter months. A location was found, volunteers came forward, supplies started arriving and the shelter, The Abraham Connection, was up and running. There were a few glitches but they were quickly worked out and the first season was over in the spring of 2011 as warmer temperatures arrived.
Their second season was last winter and the shelter, successfully staffed entirely by volunteers, provided a warm place for the homeless folks to sleep and have a hot meal in the evening and continental breakfast in the morning. The Abraham Connection hopes to have a building of its own in the near future. This is becoming a reality thanks to the generous people of Delta County who have contributed to the building fund. However, there is a looming crisis in the current operation of the shelter.
For the well-being of those who stay with The Abraham Connection, there must be two trained volunteers in the shelter from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. every night. One volunteer must be a male and one a female. These volunteers are trained by the board members of The Abraham Connection to provide a safe place for the guests to stay. There are two shifts every night, the first one from 6 p.m. until midnight and the second shift from midnight until 6 a.m. Herein lies the problem: The Abraham Connection is experiencing a shortage of overnight volunteers especially from midnight to 6 a.m. to stay at the shelter. Without the required volunteers, The Abraham Connection board of directors is forced to make the painful decision to close the shelter every night they do not have adequate coverage of volunteers, and folks are left out in the cold.
Families with children, single people and couples have been served by The Abraham Connection. These people have been offered a warm, safe place to spend the night, with a warm meal and some nutrition to begin the day with. The Delta County community is a very gracious and giving community. The members of the Delta United Methodist Church who donate the current shelter space, the multitude of people who provide warm meals and breakfasts, the laundry volunteers and the volunteers who are currently spending the night give selflessly because it is important. Their efforts do not go unnoticed. But the need remains for volunteers for the overnight shifts.
As a member of the community, I do not want to see this valuable service end, even for just a day. I shudder to think of what can happen to the homeless folks in our county without The Abraham Connection shelter. It is a stark reality that many of us are only one paycheck away from being homeless. Many of the people you see every day may be homeless, they are people who have had tough breaks in this life and need a helping hand once in a while. The Abraham Connection is present in our community to offer that helping hand. During this season of giving, please consider your role in this program. Your presence at the shelter one or two shifts a month will keep the shelter open one more night. There are trainings offered often and people available to answer any questions you may have. Please consider how important the shelter is and your possible role of giving up some time for the less fortunate folks of Delta County. If you are interested in becoming an Abraham Connection volunteer, please call 773-8290. Your help will be much appreciated and it will be a rewarding experience.