Empowering the Homeless
by Spencer Pfleiderer | Reprinted from COLUMNS Magazine
Compassion Corner is the Homeless Ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Every year, approximately 20,000 homeless people come to Compassion Corner looking for assistance. We provide a temporary haven from the dangerous streets of our city. Most importantly, when they are helpless, we are here to help.
Expressing compassion has its challenges. To begin with, offering compassion without accountability is just enabling. Those we seek to help may feel entitled, which can lead them to believe we are responsible for their well-being.
Alternatively, compassion with accountability is empowerment. Empowering compassion puts the responsibility of change and transformation back on the individual. They regain dignity, self-respect, and the confidence to move out of their situation.
The key to empowering an individual who is homeless is identifying which category of circumstantial homelessness each person falls into and have an actual plan of recovery for that person. This is what we do at Compassion Corner. Our leaders and volunteers meet with the homeless and help them take the next best step–whether that is for survival, for safety, or for a job.
We see evidence of Compassion Corner’s impact within Orlando’s homeless community every day. A homeless man, diagnosed with cancer in December recently shared his story with me. Through his empowered choices and relationships at Compassion Corner, he now has stable housing and is getting medical treatment. He is experiencing transformational change in his life because a volunteer, someone just like you, sat down with him and said, “Try this.” And he did.
I have seen this happen over and over again, and I invite you to come experience it for yourself. Compassion Corner is a place of transformation, where God is already preparing life-changing ministry for the people of this church. Come join in!
VOLUNTEER at Compassion Corner for a few hours one morning, Monday through Thursday, 8:30–11:00am, and come ready to learn. To sign up, contact Jeannette Follmer, our Compassion Corner Coordinator, at 407.496.9728 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DONATE travel-size supplies for our friends: razors, shave cream, mosquito spray, sunscreen, bottled water, and feminine products. Drop them off at Compassion Corner (425 N. Magnolia Ave.) or the lobby of the Edington Ministry Center at First Pres.
Spencer Pfleiderer is the Director of Compassion Corner, a ministry of First Pres that builds relationships with the homeless community in Orlando, and is designed to be the way our church family connects and ministers to those in need, here in downtown.