Heart and “soles”

by | Jan 24, 2014 | Other News

It was rainy and cold on Thursday, Jan. 2 as Ohef Sholom Temple began its second night of hosting the weeklong Norfolk Emergency Shelter Program (NEST) with the help of its neighbor, Ghent United Methodist Church.

Sadly, one homeless man arrived in the rain and cold without any shoes. When one congregant learned of this man’s predicament and shoe size, he didn’t hesitate to give the man his shoes. The volunteer worked the rest of the evening and left the building in his socks. This generosity, which he humbly downplayed, epitomizes the soul of Ohef Sholom where congregants truly take to heart the concept of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

Similar acts of selflessness and generosity played out throughout the week, as for another year—and with dauntingly little notice—coordinator extraordinaire Sharon Ross made sure Ohef Sholom’s doors and hearts were open to the more than 50 homeless men and women who sought shelter and food each night in a week with record-breaking cold temperatures.

Guests flocked to the shelter—and showed great appreciation for all the special touches, including luxury toiletries donated by Evelyn Hearst and the generous contribution of hygiene kits from Brian Friedman and his Hospitality for the Homeless group, the gloves provided by NEST founder Dale Gauding, and bus tickets provided by the temple on the coldest day. Plus Ohef Sholom offered healthy vegetarian meals from Ross and her kitchen crew (the mixed reviews of the delicious-but-different curried lentil soup are not to be mentioned!).

In all, more than 100 OST volunteers pitched in with cooking, cleaning, supervising, serving, and offering sustenance and cheer to the guests, many of whom requested early wake-up calls in order to put in a day’s work. Special kudos go to the “overnighters” —Karen Fine, Evelyn Hearst, Joyce Graber, Peter Crockin, Joe Hearst, Meril Amdursky, Nanci Glassman, Laura Gilbert, Alan Troy, Sharon Ross, David Fierman, Carol Laibstain, Prue Salasky and Jim Schloss.

While supporting NEST is only a temporary solution to the problem of homelessness, Ohef Sholom is proud to support Virginia Supportive Housing, which aims to end homelessness by providing permanent housing and supportive services. Ninety-eight percent of their residents do not return to homelessness