Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)
Salem FUMC works in partnership with The Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network (Salem IHN) to move homeless families into stable and sustainable housing. IHN is a response to the growing need to provide shelter, meals, assistance, and compassion to families without homes. Salem IHN has been working to alleviate the pain of homelessness for families in Salem since it opened its doors in May 1999.
Salem IHN seeks to unite the religious community in its efforts to assist homeless families in Salem, Oregon and the surrounding area.
Currently, Salem IHN consists of 18 Host faith communities and 15 Support faith communities. The Hosts donate their space to house homeless families overnight for one week, every three months on a rotating basis. Support faith communities offer additional volunteers and supplies to assist a nearby Host. Each morning, the IHN guests are transported by van to the Day Center where the Case Manager works with them to find permanent solutions and help them regain their independence. The families are referred to agencies providing support in health care, job training and other services that work to solve underlying causes of homelessness.
The Salem First United Methodist volunteers provide homeless families with basic human needs–shelter, safety, and sustenance–with a spirit of warmth and hospitality. Our participation helps provide temporary “homes” in which families are treated as guests of the congregation. The MICAH ballroom is used to create an environment where guests can maintain their dignity and self esteem. The kindness of hosts can help alleviate the hurt and alienation of homelessness, and both volunteers and guests can grow and learn from each other.
Volunteers are needed every three months to provide dinner for the IHN guests, serve as meal hosts, and support staff and also as overnight hosts. Volunteers are always welcome and are encouraged to visit with those guests who welcome conversation. There are usually children who enjoy playing with willing volunteers.
IHN by the Numbers
1. In 2013, 55 families were served with a 34 day stay being the average.
2. 33 congregations support IHN and 18 are sleepover churches.
3. As of 2/2/2014 IHN has served 500 families and 1000 children.
4. 12,000 individual meals have been served to the clients of IHN in the last 15 years by the FUMC congregation.
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