In order for The Night Ministry, our third-quarter Challenge the Gap beneficiary, to provide housing, health care and support to Chicago community members struggling with poverty and homelessness, they require a dedicated team of staff and volunteers. Two members of this team are Cammeo Medici and Ellen Rosenwinkel. Both started with The Night Ministry on the Health Outreach Bus, which “offers medical exams, treatment and HIV testing as well as coffee, conversation and a sense of community.” Medici and Rosenwinkel continue to work on the Health Outreach Bus as bilingual health care/hospitality volunteers and are also members of The Night Ministry’s Associate Board.
The Health Outreach Bus travels to six neighborhoods, four nights per week. For those with limited means, basic health care to treat an illness like a cold or sore throat is an unaffordable luxury. “These people, who are gracious and kind-hearted, are happy to receive any kind of aid, even if it’s only a few cough drops,” said Medici. In addition to providing needed medical services, Medici explained that the Bus also gives “human contact and emotional support” to those who are not yet at a point in their lives where they can leave the streets. Although this work is rewarding, it also has its challenges. “It’s very emotional work,” stated Rosenwinkel. As a volunteer, she has often heard difficult stories from individuals seeking treatment. “We can provide services, but we can’t fix all problems.”
The impact a program of this nature has upon a community cannot be measured through traditional means. Rosenwinkel defined the Bus’s success, in part, as helping others “find community and accountability.” Often, individuals will come to the Bus to so that others will not worry over their absence. For the volunteers, it’s about making someone’s night less miserable and being there for those who may have no one else.
The Health Outreach Bus will continue to make its rounds on the streets of Chicago. Although the staff has always collected feedback from patients, a recently completed quantitative survey may offer new insight as to how The Night Ministry can continue to improve their services in this area.
Foundation Beyond Belief is proud to support The Night Ministry as they fight homelessness and poverty in their community. You can learn more about The Night Ministry’s programs through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.