Many of the articles that I have written in the last few weeks have been about the homeless population in the Lexington area. The only large shelter in Lexington for men who are homeless is The Men’s Hope Center Emergency Shelter located at 360 West Loudon Avenue.
As I have indicated in the past, this shelter provides needs for hundreds of men. During the bitter cold winter months, the need for shelter becomes even greater. Today, I want to make people aware of another resource that can be utilized. This resource is named “Room In The Inn” (RITI).
The idea for the ministry was modeled after a similar ministry in Nashville, Tennessee. When Nashville began it’s ministry in the mid-80s, there were only 4 participating congregations. Today that small ministry has grown to become Nashville’s second largest provider of overnight shelter for men. Over 156 congregations now participate and average 180 guests each evening.
Lexington’s Room In The Inn is made possible by 23 church congregations of all faiths working together to serve men who are homeless. RITI began in January of 2004 and provides hospitality by welcoming homeless men into their environments as honored guests. RITI defines itself as “a seasonal winter shelter for homeless men of the greater Lexington area”.
Each Lexington church that participates will invite small groups of not more than 14 guests. This year the program begins on Sunday, November 8th and ends on Saturday, April 16th. By treating the men as honored guests, the churches provide a healthy environment – a safe, warm, and comfortable place to sleep – a hot evening meal – breakfast each morning – a sack lunch for the day – and transportation to and from the church.
The following gives the necessary steps that someone must take to be accepted by RITI:
*** Applicants are interviewed by a group called The Innkeepers. During this interview, potential guests are screened for physical and mental health issues. This is necessary because some illnesses may prove to be a health threat to the other guests or the hosts.
*** Applicants should be able to provide some form of identification. Acceptable forms of an ID would include a driver’s license, social security card, or other photo ID.
*** Applicants must be able to provide proof of a negative TB test that has been done WITHIN THE PAST 3 MONTHS. This means that the applicant must have documentation that the test was negative. (The nurse at The Men’s Hope Center’s performs free TB skin tests. Since the tests are only done on certain days, please call 859-389-9820 or 859-252-7881 to obtain information on the days and times).
*** Applicants must abstain from use of alcohol or other drugs that have not been prescribed by a physician.
Once a gentleman has been accepted into the program, RITI provides transportation to and from the churches on a daily basis. The guests assemble at 6:20 p.m. at Central Christian Church, which is located at 205 East Short Street. The participants are given a breathalyzer test (for alcohol) EACH evening before being transported to the host church.
Walk-ins are not accepted into the program. The participants must have applied, met all requirements, and been accepted into the program.
Since there is a limited number of guests that can be accepted into the program, RITI accepts and screens applicants before making a decision as to which guests will be participating. The times and locations that applications will be accepted are listed below.
*** First United Methodist Church at 544 South Upper Street – Tuesday, September 21st and Tuesday, October 19th between 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
*** Central Christian Church Chapel at 205 East Short Street – Sunday, October 24th between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
It is important that you adhere to these times when applying to be a guest at RITI. Applications WILL NOT be accepted at other times. Also, you should apply ONLY ONCE during the application time period.
As I indicated at the beginning of this article, 23 churches in the Lexington area work together to make the Room In The Inn program possible. Due to the large number, I will not list each individual church. If you are a member of a church that does not participate and you want to inquire about the program, you can contact Central Christian Church at 859-233-1551.
I will close this article by quoting part of the mission of Lexington’s Room In The Inn program – “Serving Lexington’s Homeless with Dignity and Respect”. The RITI brochure also gives Biblical references to man’s responsibility in life.
1 John 3:17 & 18 – “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”.
If life’s circumstances have resulted in your becoming a gentleman that has no home, please apply to this wonderful program. If life’s circumstances have allowed you to be financially wealthy and successful in you career, please get involved in helping those that are less fortunate.
Remember – one person can make a difference, and you will be blessed !!!