Room in the InnWhat is Room in the Inn (RITI)?
Since 1996, the Urban Ministry Center has been working with congregations of many faiths and colleges to open their facilities on average of one night a week to provide shelter and food for homeless people during the winter months (December 1 - March 31). Each site offers a warm, safe place to sleep and serves two meals (dinner and breakfast) and returns the neighbors to the Charlotte Transportation Center the following morning. Each week requires a crew of volunteers who serve as drivers, cooks, servers, set-up and clean-up personnel, and people willing to spend the night with the neighbors.
The RITI program is a unique way for people of faith to become directly involved with individuals who are homeless. The simple goal is to keep homeless people from freezing on cold, winter nights. A greater goal is to provide to our homeless neighbors, at least for one night, hope and a loving relationship. Simply put, RITI is a way to bring alive the biblical admonition to Love Your Neighbor.
The RITI program began with 20 shelter sites. During the 2006-2007 year, it grew to include 93 congregations and colleges providing 14,749 beds for 1,249 neighbors and involving greater than 5,000 volunteers. We are aware of no other homeless service program in our community that enlists so many volunteers (From the Urbran Ministry Center website).
Why do we do Room in the Inn at Saint Martins?
The Mission of Saint Martin's is, "We obey Jesus Christ by helping people find God, and by being a community of mercy, justice, and reconciliation."
At St. Martin's, we obey Jesus Christ as we remember how He said, "I assure you, whatever you did to one of the leaset of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing to me!" (Matthew 24:40). We bring Jesus into our lives as we bring our homeless neighbors in out of the cold.
As a community of mercy, we remember how Jesus commanded us: "Be merciful therefore, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:36) As God provides for us, we provide for others.
As a community of justice, we work to correct the injustices of society that result in some people losing their homes. In the meantime, we assist the victims of those injustices by providing shelter for those who are homeless.
As a community of reconciliation, we welcome others into our family, as we heed the words of the writer to the Hebrews: "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" (Hebrews 13:2)
At. Saint Martins, we seek also to emulate our Patron, St. Martin of Tours, who shared his cloak with a homeless beggar. We too share what we have with the poor: we share our space, our food, our fellowship, and our hearts.
The Lord has called, commissioned, and blessed us. In answer to our prayer, the Spirit has empowered us with gifts for the work of ministry. If you will let yourself be drawn "closer in community" with our homeless neighbors by volunteering with Room in the Inn (RITI) at Saint Martin's, you will be able to serve in practical ways the Christ who came among us in the form of a poor, homeless stranger, waling the streets of Galilee. For example, you can: 1) Provide somwhere for the Son of Man to lay His head (Luke 9:58) 2) Feed Him when He is hungry (Matthew 25:35) 3) Welcome His Father (Luke 9:48).
For more information about the ministry or to sign up for a volunteer shift, please contact Gainor Eisenlohr (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jarrett Valete (email@example.com).