POTOSI, Wis. — Family Promise of Grant County leaders are calling on volunteers to help establish a host site at Davies Memorial United Church of Christ in Potosi.
The church would be the 11th site in a network of churches that provides overnight shelter and meals for homeless families in Grant County.
Existing host churches are located in Cuba City, Fennimore, Lancaster, Montfort and Platteville.
Currently, Davies Memorial United Church of Christ is a support congregation, assisting Lancaster United Methodist Church in Lancaster by providing meals and foodstuffs.
In 2015, congregants unanimously voted to support the program. But to become a host site, they need more volunteers to prepare and serve meals, assist with cleanup and stay overnight at the church up to five times per year during host visits.
Families would sleep on cots assembled in the Davies Memorial United Church of Christ conference room, communion preparation room, and if necessary, the dining area, which otherwise would be used for meal service.
If enough volunteers come forward, Davies Memorial United Church of Christ could begin hosting families in 2017, according to volunteer coordinator Marilyn Grandeffo.
“I’m optimistic,” she said.
The Rev. Gordon Cunningham, pastor at Davies Memorial United Church of Christ, said the church always has been a community centerpiece. Accordingly, the church “should be involved in making sure the people of that community have what they need,” he said.
“From its earliest point of existence, the church was a place where people shared everything that they had so that those who had less needn’t go without,” he said.
Hannah Campbell Gustafson, director of Family Promise of Grant County, said she hopes to develop a formal process through which area churches can volunteer to become host or support sites.
“We’re hoping that if we can make that model work of the community hosting at Potosi, that we might be able to take that to some other towns in the county as well,” she said. “It would be great if we could get to 13 host sites, so that each site is only hosting four times a year, rather than closer to five. … For the coordinators, it’s a big commitment.”
Gustafson said the presence of additional sites also would illustrate to people the pervasiveness of homelessness and showcase opportunities to alleviate it in Grant County.
To recruit volunteers, Family Promise of Grant County and Potosi community leaders are hosting an orientation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6, at Davies Memorial United Church of Christ.
Volunteers will undergo sensitivity training in which they will learn about confidentiality, boundary setting and interpersonal communication.
Cunningham and Grandeffo are optimistic that Potosi community members will rally around the initiative.
Even though his congregation only has 60 active members, Cunningham has faith.
He said their hearts are as large as the meals they routinely cook in abundance for the Family Promise program.
“So, in a way, we’re a very big church, too.”