What is the MetroWest Interfaith Hospitality Network?
The MetroWest Interfaith Hospitality Network is a faith-based, volunteer driven program that helps families in MetroWest who are experiencing a temporary phase of homelessness. Faiths of all denominations are currently involved and encouraged to join the program. The MetroWest IHN is based at the First Baptist Church in downtown Natick, and is one of approximately 140 IHN affiliates throughout the U.S. under the national program that goes by the name of Family Promise. More information can be found at www.familypromise.org.
How do these congregations help?
There are two ways to help. Some congregations are called “host” congregations because homeless families actually come to live on site at the congregation four times a year. The host congregation arranges to provide food and accommodations to up to 14 people from one or two parent families for a week at a time. Being a host congregation requires a significant commitment of space and facilities to make this work.
Due to space constraints, St. Mary’s cannot be a host congregation, but serves as a “support” congregation. Support congregations provide financial assistance, meals, volunteers and supplies.
How many congregations are currently involved in the MetroWest Network?
There are currently 13 host congregations:
- Christ Lutheran Church, Natick
- Christ the King Lutheran Church, Holliston – our local hosting congregation
- The Dover Church
- Federated Church of Ashland
- First Congregational Church, Natick
- First Parish Church, Wayland
- First Parish in Framingham
- Pilgrim Church, Sherborn
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Natick
- Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills
- Unitarian Universalist Area Church, Sherborn
- Wellesley Congregational Church
- Wellesley Hills Congregational Church
There are currently 11 Support Congregations
- Fisk United Methodist Church, Natick
- Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Wellesley
- Peace Lutheran Church, Wayland
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Framingham
- St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Wellesley
- St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Holliston
- St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Sherborn
- Sha’arei Shalom, Ashland
- Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley
- Temple Beth Torah, Holliston
- Temple Or Atid, Wayland
What do the families do during the day?
Children go to schools in the towns in which they are enrolled, and parents go to the Natick Day Center to work at finding employment and permanent housing. Staff at the Day Center assists the parents with access to local social service, employment and housing opportunities.
How can we help?
During the period of hosting, there are several volunteering opportunities for support congregation members:
- Meal time volunteers to bring prepared meals and eat with the guest families at both breakfast and dinner. In the evening, these volunteers also remain on property with the families until the Overnight Hosts arrive.
- Overnight Hosts to actually sleep at the host congregation during the host week.
- Activities volunteers to coordinate and provide activities at the host congregation each night.
- Sunday Set-up and Take-down to prepare the space for the families and then return the space to classrooms when the families leave.
- Laundry volunteers to wash and store the linens needed during hosting
In addition, just prior to each hosting week, depending on the family size and make-up, there are always needs for basics like paper goods, diapers possibly, and other staples. These are identified and publicized so volunteers can provide what they can.
And as always, financial contributions are always welcome. To contribute financially, go to www.metrowestihn.org.
Why did St. Mary’s join the Network?
St. Mary’s is a vibrant faith community that has always been responsive to the needs of our brothers and sisters. While homelessness knows no business cycle, in this particularly difficult time, the Metrowest Interfaith Hospitality Network represents an opportunity for us to put our faith in action. “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me” can be brought to life in a very special and personal way. We also have an excellent opportunity to partner with the other faith congregations in our community, and build both mutual understanding, and a joint commitment to the improvement of quality of life.
I want to volunteer – what do I do next?
Contact: Carol Salvi at 508-429-6729. Volunteers must be CORI’d and trained prior to actually volunteering at a host congregation.