Beyond Belief Network Guides: Fight Homelessness with The Night Minist


The Night Ministry is Foundation Beyond Belief’s 2014 Q3 Challenge the Gap beneficiary for the Humanist Giving program.  As with all FBB beneficiaries, Challenge the Gap candidates are chosen based on compatibility with the FBB mission, program effectiveness, financial responsibility, and an innovative approach to solving a problem. The Night Ministry is a Chicago-based organization that works to “provide housing, healthcare and human connection to members of our community struggling with poverty or homelessness.” You can use this guide for service event ideas and to decide if you’d like to join The Night Ministry’s fight to end homelessness.

What is Challenge the Gap?

Foundation Beyond Belief are committed to aiding secular organizations that encourage and demonstrate humanist generosity and compassion, which is why the beneficiaries in our four other Humanist Giving categories are always secular. However, some humanists feel that it is important to challenge the belief that it is impossible to find common ground between religious and nonreligious organizations. Challenge the Gap represents religious charities that embrace a progressive, non-proselytizing commitment and work for the common good.

The Night Ministry’s Programs

The Night Ministry offers programs catered to serve youth and adults facing complex challenges on a daily basis including homelessness, poverty, abuse, loneliness, and neglect. These are The Night Ministry’s current outreach programs.

One vital program is the Health Outreach Bus which works in six neighborhoods, four nights per week. The Health Outreach Bus “offers medical exams, treatment and HIV testing as well as coffee, conversation and a sense of community.”  Their Youth Outreach team operates two nights per week in one neighborhood to offer support, food and self-care supplies to homeless and LGBT youth.

The Night Ministry also offers a youth housing program through the Open Door Youth Shelter –West Town. For immediate housing needs, there is the Crib, which is an overnight youth shelter providing access to meals, showers, laundry facilities, and a bed. For longer-term housing and social services, homeless youth can enter The Night Ministry’s 120-day interim program. Each year, nearly 200 individuals are serviced through this program. One of Night Ministry’s more recent endeavors, STEPS, seeks to transition older teens that are no longer wards of the state from homelessness to independent living.   

For pregnant or new mothers, The Night Ministry has its Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP), which consists of a small interim shelter and supportive services program. When a teenage mother enters the shelter, she’ll meet with a case manager. During an initial assessment, the two of them will work together to create a case plan that supports the client’s strength and identifies her areas of need. The teen mother will also be connected by staff to prenatal, post-delivery and pediatric healthcare services. Among RAPP’s goals are to strengthen the resources in the client’s family/support systems, reduce the likelihood of homelessness for the client, support the client to delay subsequent pregnancies, and enhance the well-being of the teen family.

Event Ideas

These suggested ideas are intended to inspire Beyond Belief Network teams looking for potential events.   

1. Ready, Set, Collect! Many organizations deal with poverty assistance and are often dependent on donated supplies. Contact an organization in your local community. Ask what specific supplies they want. Once your team has developed a list, organize a collection drive for those items. Remember, give your team adequate time to promote your event! Promotion may increase your team’s chances for collecting a large number of items. For organizational purposes, assign a main hub where all collected items can be safely stored until they are delivered to their final destination.  

2. Feeding Frenzy. Food brings us all to the table, and there are a number of potential service events that focus on this theme. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank. Assist at a community garden. Collect canned goods and other non-perishable items. Prepare a meal at a shelter. If you know an organization in your area that does food-related work like this, contact them and ask if they need volunteers and if there are any particular requirements.  With events that require individuals to prepare food, it’s imperative to follow all food handling safety measures. Also, check if team members have food allergies. If they do, establish and enforce any necessary precautions.

3. Collection Bowl! If your team is looking for a fun event, look no further than hosting a bowling party. Have members or interested individuals sign up to bowl and agree to bring an item (ex. canned goods, monetary donations, etc.). Assign an individual to make a list of all collected items and/or store them in their vehicle. Don’t forget to deliver the items to your team’s chosen organization after the event.

Follow The Night Ministry and their work through their website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.