ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) –A network of churches in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are again providing space for the homeless to lay their heads.
People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry (PACEM) is the nonprofit organization that coordinates this community effort.
The Church of the Incarnation has been hosting the homeless for the last two weeks. Church volunteers say hosting them lifts everyone’s spirits.
“We know that we’ve had a big impact on them,” said Tom Eckman, a volunteer.
Hand-written cards from elementary school students greet those who come into the church for shelter. When they come in the facility for the night, dinner is always waiting for them.There are also toothbrushes, towels, and bags for dirty laundry.
More than 25 beds are set up for men who do not have another place to sleep.
City churches started providing these places of comfort 12 years ago, when a man was found frozen in a dumpster.
“When we first started we would fill our building up with 50 men, and I’d say maybe 60 percent of them were chronic homeless people that had been on the street for maybe five years,” Eckman said.
Volunteers make sure those men on the streets come into a place that’s neat and tidy.
“We’ve seen a number of the men’s lives turn around through the compassion that everybody shows,” said Eckman.
The homeless spend about two weeks at different churches in the area.
Women are also housed in churches around the city and county.