Ferrisbugh church celebrates John Graham Housing and Services

NORTH FERRISBURGH — John Graham Housing and Services (JGHS) staff and residents were treated to a free thank-you barbecue by the members of the North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church recently. More than 60 people gathered for the event and all enjoyed a wonderful meal and especially the fellowship and conversation that resulted  
The church playground was “joy in motion,” said one church member, as kids of all ages enjoyed the swings, slides and climbing wall.  Two teenage boys from the church youth group entertained anyone who wanted to practice their soccer skills.  Parents shared tips on parenting.  Elders doted on babies and children.
Did you know that JGHS runs not only the homeless shelter in Vergennes but also runs five “transition housing units” in Vergennes, Bristol and Middlebury? Transition housing are apartments owned by JGHS.  JGHS staff work tirelessly with people who are escaping violence, drug addiction or working on mental or physical health issues that have caused their homelessness. Studies have found that people need the stability of a roof over their heads before they can work on the issues causing their homelessness. JGHS staff continue to work with their residents even when they move from the transition housing to a standard apartment.
NFUMS church members learned a lot more about the services that JGHS offers, not only from staff but from the people who had or were currently using JGHS services. 
“I had a lovely conversation with a woman, currently in JGHS transition housing, who is now working full-time for an elderly services program in Burlington. Then she also works in the evenings for Homeshare people helping them with cleaning.  I was amazed at how hard she was working.  She represents just one of a huge number of people JGHS has helped not only get back on their feet but move into giving back to the larger community.” said one church member.
North Ferrisburgh United Methodist Church has supported JGHS through its men’s group offering painting and cleaning services to buildings, members have offered rides to JGHS residents for things like doctor appointments or other errands. Church youth have raised funds for the food shelf at the shelter and in the summer time we donate free garden produce from church member gardens. The barbecue was a celebration of everyone working together to enhance Addison County quality of life.  Church members feel they probably gained the most by making new friends, gaining a much deeper insight into what JGHS does, and breaking away from stereotypes on who uses a homeless shelter.

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