Homelessness at The Bridge
By Gerry C., Mercy Associate
I’ve always had an interest in feeding the homeless. Five years ago, this interest turned into dedicated action as I started to regularly cook for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission through a ministry at St. Mark Church in Stratford, CT. As time went on, I became more and more attracted to closer ministry with persons who are homeless and decided to join The Bridge ministry at St. James Parish in Stratford where I feel I’ve finally found my niche.
Every third Sunday we meet at the church, pack up our cars, join in prayer and drive to the I-95 Bridge on John Street in Bridgeport, CT. Here we encounter at least 200 people, rain or shine. While talking to these neighbors, the group distributes personal hygiene items such as tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, and toilet paper. With the help of my husband, a friend and fellow Mercy Associate MaryEllen W. and her husband, we cook and hand out food to as many as 150 people.
We also organize seasonal drives. This past Christmas, we suggested to our friends and relatives that they forgo grab bags and instead donate socks and underwear for homeless persons. Through their generosity, we were overwhelmed with donations. The joy on their faces when they received the new socks manifested the true meaning of Christmas gift-giving.
During winter, we collect warm clothing, especially coats, gloves and hats for our neighbors at the Bridge who may be in need. I realized the importance of our ministry when on a very cold day last winter a man approached us with frigid hands. We had just given out our last pair of gloves. The next thing I knew, my husband removed the gloves he was wearing and gave them to the gentleman. I found myself weeping at the sight of such Gospel generosity.
August 6th is the annual day for the homeless in Bridgeport. We expect over 400 persons who are homeless to attend where we will give away backpacks filled with personal hygiene items. Please pray we can reach as many people as possible and continue to see Jesus’ presence in them.