life on Ellis Street...

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) San Francisco is based on Ellis Street on a block that is "home" to 20-30 homeless individuals.  The front room of the YWAM building is known as the Ellis Room, and is a large open area filled with tables chairs and game tables, with windows onto the street.  Monday-Thursday mornings this room is a drop-in center open to anyone who wants to come in to hang out, play pool, sleep in safety, or chat with staff.  Most afternoons the Ellis Room is also open and offers free services to the local [homeless]community. 

Monday afternoons are "nail day".  The Ellis Room is open for women to get free manicures and/or be creative at our art table.  Nail Day is staffed largely by volunteers as well as BJM (Because Justice Matters) staff.  This is a great opportunity to serve the women in the community: it's a time for them to relax, be waited upon, and have someone to talk to who cares about them, and drink bottomless coffee =).  Tuesday afternoons there different planned activities each week.  Wednesday afternoons there are open Bible Studies and, later, free men's hair cuts.  Thursday afternoons we have a "food pantry" for individuals registered with the food bank.  We set up with pallets and bins of food and about 25 volunteers.  As people loop around the room, they are handed their allotment of fruits, vegetables, meat, or dairy products by volunteers.  We typically serve over 200 individuals.  Friday afternoons are for life groups, prayer times, and a few (10 per week) people can come in for showers.  Jason's ministry times on Wed and Fri afternoons are primarily with the Ellis Room, so he could expound on particular events, stories, and [occasional?] drama in more detail.

My ministry assignment is in North Beach, an Italian community about 20 minutes by bus from base.  Wed and Fri afternoons are spent volunteering at the Boys' and Girls' club with an average of 150 (out of about 400) kids.  We play four-square, soccer, board games, do origami, use game tables, etc., and just have fun building relationships with them.  This week we also went to Italian Community Center, a senior center we'll be volunteering at every other week.

Another opportunity we have here in SF is "hot chocolate" (everyone's favorite!).  Every Friday evening we take thermoses full of hot chocolate and hand it out to the friends and neighbors who live on the streets in the area around the YWAM base.  Sometimes (like last week) we have as many as 100 extra volunteers who come just to help out for the evening.  We split into small groups and just walk around and find people to talk to.  Giving someone who sleeps outdoors a warm drink on a cold night, often opens up opportunity for great conversations.  Our goal is to be a blessing, build friendships, and share God's love.  Last week I had multiple people come up to my group and specifically ask for prayer.  They seem to really like, as one person termed it, "hot chocolate moments".  There are always interesting and inspirational stories told at the end of these evenings!

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