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published December 13, 2011

Making Community

No matter what time of year, the love and support of family or good friends is immeasurable. Breakthrough Urban Ministries intentionally helps foster such an environment, and this extends to men and women who have stayed with us and have since moved on to supportive housing in the city. The invitation to experience community is also open to volunteers.

“It’s a great day when guests are able to move out on their own,” says Director of Adult Services, Yolanda Fields. “But we know that many of them are still in need of a personal support system as they make this transition. Responding to that need, Breakthrough formed community groups for its supportive housing participants in the fall of 2009.

Each group is led by volunteers and meets at least once a month for an hour, although the focus and commitment varies according to the consensus of group members. “One of our women’s groups meets twice a month. One week, they begin with a time of fellowship before focusing on a Bible study. The second week, they have dinner together,” says Housing Coordinator, Paul Luikart. “Another group has snacks and does a Bible study every time they meet.”

Lauren, a long-time Breakthrough volunteer, decided to co-lead a community group earlier this year. “I jumped at the chance…even though I didn’t have a lot of experience leading a group like this,” she says. “After serving meals at the Joshua Center for a few years, I recognized the power of sharing a meal and conversation. I was excited about being able to do that with a group of women on a consistent basis.”

Lauren has been deeply affected by her time with the group and says that she feels blessed to be a part of the community they share. “I thought the women would be more resistant and reserved, and I didn’t know if they would be open to learning and sharing with me and my co-leader because of our backgrounds, race or age,” she says. “But from the very beginning, we have been welcomed by everyone in the group. The do not hesitate to speak their mind, and they have incredible stories and wisdom. I am excited to learn something valuable every time we meet, and I experience God in ways I never knew existed. We always share new questions, new heartache, new joys and new laughter.”

Currently, there are two groups meeting at two of the three housing locations, although Paul shares that there is a need for more. “This is an opportunity to expand the networks of those who participate and help them continue successfully during a time of transition in their lives. The groups we have are going very well, and we’re seeing benefits of a relational commitment between members,” he says. “We’d like to be able to meet the need of more men and women who have moved on from Breakthrough. At the moment, we are especially in need of volunteers to lead men’s groups. We’d also like to start groups at the Breakthrough Ministry Center and Breakthrough Joshua Center for formers guests who live elsewhere but are not a part of the supportive housing program.”

Interested in this volunteer opportunity? Find out more from our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@breakthrough.org or 773-722-1144 (x271)

“This experience can change your life,” says Lauren. “An experience like this will challenge you and grow you. It will strengthen your faith and stir you to do more.”