Each month the Human Concerns Committee will highlight the work of a community organization doing outstanding ministry in the city of Milwaukee. Our April 2021 partner is the Hospitality Center at St. Hedwig! After being closed for the winter and the need to maintain pandemic safety we are reopening this month!
The vision for the Hospitality Center has been centered on providing an opportunity for Family of Four parishioners to be in solidarity with, and walk with, our neighbors who have often-times been poor and homeless. Knowing that Jesus spent his entire life living with the poor and underserved, it was deemed essential to provide our parishioners the opportunity to live out the Jesus story in their lives, Here and Now, through a story of love and compassion.
Over the years, the Hospitality Center has evolved into a vital lifeline where, each week, our guests can obtain a hot meal, food staples and clothing. Most importantly, The Hospitality Center has emerged as a vibrant community where important relationships have developed and space has been created where our guests can be safe and honored. The Hospitality Center is a place where everyone has permission to be their authentic self without fear of judgment. We are all unique but come together as one family each week to celebrate our love for people, God, and each other. Guests are invited to pray. These spontaneous prayers have been a powerful testament that despite one’s hardships there is a strong belief that Jesus is always walking with us. For many people, our time in the Hospitality Center is the best time of the week.
In 2005, then Director of Human Concerns for Three Holy Women Parish, Mr. Bob Schuelke, and Pastor Fr. Tim Kitzke had a conversation regarding how the parish could be more effective in reaching out to the community and to have more of a presence in our neighborhood. Together, they developed the idea of creating a space where neighbors, who frequently knocked on our doors seeking help, could be invited to gather. Fr. Tim suggested the lower level of St. Hedwig Church as a place for hospitality. As a result, with the guidance of our parish nurse, Brenda Buchanan, the Hospitality Center was created.
Although the Hospitality Center was closed in March of 2020, due to the pandemic, we were able to safely re-open, outdoors, for the summer and fall. A wonderful group of parishioners, the Meal Team, provided bagged lunches, beverages, and baked treats each week. We also had a variety of hygiene products available, along with groceries and a small selection of clothing. Then, when the cold weather arrived again and there was still a lack of safety to gather indoors, we once again closed for the winter. Thankfully, many of our neighbors have maintained their relationship with our community by seeking support, prayer, and friendship over the phone during these months.
It is a true delight that, with COVID numbers on the decline and vaccination rates on the incline, along with a return of spring-like weather, we are looking forward to RE-OPEN the Hospitality Center, once again outdoors, in mid-April! Our plan for this year is to again offer hygiene products, bagged meals, groceries, and clothes “to-go.” Additionally, we are planning to serve hot coffee and set out some chairs each week to provide space for the community to, once again, spend time together in fellowship and prayer.
Please pray in thanksgiving for the life of each person who visits the Hospitality Center… truly, they are precious in our sight! Please pray for increased access to safe housing, physical and mental health supports, employment with a living wage, and the love of family and friends.
Support this Community Ministry Connection
If you’d like to get involved, please consider helping in one of these ways! Hygiene products are always in demand. Most notably, people frequently ask for body wash, body lotion, and individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper. Although we still have plenty of canned beans and vegetables on hand (from a generous donation from the students at Greater Temple Baptist School), we are very much in need of canned protein (tuna, chicken, salmon), beef sticks, and bottled Gatorade. Or, if you’d like to join the Meal Team by providing bagged lunches from time to time, please email Laura Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lastly, please consider joining our community on Friday mornings. It might just change your life.