Story Saturday- S.O.S bringing Hope to the Homeless

This past Sunday I had Dottie Latrella, who has been regularly attending our church for several months, share about the new non-profit organization that she is starting called S.O.S (Salvation Of Sorrows).  This organization was birthed from Dottie's experience of the testimony of Ray.  Ray was a homeless man living on Market Street who one day Dottie felt compelled to buy him food for and learn his story.  By her taking time to value him as a human being, Ray started opening up about his life.  Dottie ended up inviting him to Christ Church.  Ray came and was immediately welcome into community.  Over the next few weeks God got completely a hold of his heart.  Ray made a public profession of faith and was baptized.  He has since gotten into transitional housing, gotten a job, become completely sober and is a valued part of Christ Church.  Ray brought one of his friends to Christ Church who in turn brought someone else who then brought someone else.  There are now 10 people that are currently building into the community of Christ Church who roots can be traced back to Dottie stopping to start a friendship with Ray.  

Dottie isn't content to let Ray's story be the last.  She is convinced that there are many more people like Ray out there that God wants to touch.  So she started S.O.S to bring renewed hope to the homeless in our neighborhood. I sat down with Dottie this week to get a little more of the story behind S.O.S.  

What is S.O.S?

It is a 501c3 non profit that is dedicated to meeting the needs of the homeless spiritually, physically and emotionally.  From giving hair cuts, to handing out toiletries, praying, inviting to church and sharing about Jesus, we just want to be there for these marginalized people in any way that we can.

What is one thing about homeless people that you think most people don't understand?

I think it is very easy to dehumanize the homeless because they often have addictions and/ or mental illness.  However, they are people just like us.  They are someone's child, someon's son or daughter, maybe someone's brother or sister.  Most importantly they are God's image bearers.  They have hopes, sorrows, joys and burdens just like the rest of us.  Yes, they might have sin that has caused them to be in this place, or a mental illness, or just really tragic circumstances.  Whatever the reason though, we need to remember that they are people and care for them as people, just as Jesus cared for us.

How does being part of Christ Church support you in this ministry?

I would not be doing this if I was not centered on God and Christ Church, through the preaching and authentic community of love, keeps me centered on God.  Life is tough as a single Mom, but my church family provides me not only with strength to keep going, but with vision to be part of the renewal that God wants to bring to this city.  

Also, being part of this church gives me a place to bring my homeless friends to.  There are not many churches where a homeless person will truly be loved and valued as a member of the community.  But everyone that I have brought here has felt the love of Christ in real, tangible ways and getting them attached to the community of Christ Church has become a huge part of seeing God bring restoration to their lives.

What are you dreams for this ministry?

I'd love to see us eventually grow into being able to open a restaurant that could employ homeless people and provide homeless with meals.  I envision a place where everyone knows everyone, the love of Jesus is felt and share and the homeless are given not just a hand out, but a hand up.  Wouldn't that be awesome!

How can people support S.O.S?

We need money!  I'm not scared to say it, because it is true.  So far, I've been buying most of the toiletries that we give out, and the meals we provide, by myself.  On Saturday the 25th we are having a benefit, at Christ Church, to try to raise money for our organization.  There will be great food, amazing raffle items, fun games for the kids, it should be a really great time.  Tickets are $20 and the best way to get them is to email me at  Doors open at 6:30pm.  Please come!