Downtown Church Offers Cold Weather Sanctuary for Homeless

Published 02/06 2014 01:59PM

Updated 02/07 2014 03:09PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In an unassuming building on 8th Street in downtown St. Joseph, a church exists where an old supermarket used to be.

But it's not just a church; it's a place to have a cup of coffee or hot tea, a place to keep warm, and it's a place to stay when you have nowhere else to go.

"There's three different groups we work with: homeless, chronic homeless, the ex-offenders, and veterans.  And those three groups are intertwined; if they're in one group they're usually in another also," said Danny Gach, who has led The Crossing Outreach Ministry since it was founded in November, 2012.

And as a sanctuary for the homeless, it has a door that simply says "Come on in!"

"When you're in one of those three groups, there are a lot of doors that are closed," Gach said.  "That's frustrating.  That leads to a downward spiral in that progress.   It impedes that progress.  The more doors we can open for those people, the better it'll be for society, for them, and for everybody."

"It makes me feel really good.  I love to come out and help out and it's nice to meet people.  I enjoy talking to them, and just getting to know them," said Alia Tapia, a volunteer who's been coming to help at The Crossing for two months now.

Tapia says she heard about The Crossing from a friend.

And now that we are in the coldest part of the year, it's very necessary for the folks here to have a place to stay during the day. 

But there's a cross on the sign tells you a bit more about the message.  For the folks who come here, and the folks who serve, faith is just as much a part of it as anything else.

"It's a huge leap of faith just to do this, to undertake the purchase of a building," Gach said.  "We were on our own to start with.  The more we do, the more people follow along.  That faith is rewarded."

In the year since The Crossing has been open, one of its biggest projects has been the "Rags to Riches" project.

They have a clothes closet for those who need clothes to wear, and for those clothes that just can't be used, they're cut into strips and rags. And with an old-fashioned loom, those strips are woven into rugs.

"It is real therapy for the guys to see that because they look at a box of rags thrown together and don't see much value to that, or don't see what it'll turn out to be," Gach said.  "When they run that through the loom, it becomes a really neat looking rug that's useful, that we can sell, and guys can earn income." 

And for a church that uses old truck seats as pews for its services, and those same seats as beds for the sleepy, those at The Crossing are making use out of everything they can get.

Gach says his goal is to get enough funds and volunteers to keep The Crossing open every day.

If you are interested in donating to the cause or volunteering, he can be reached at (816) 617-2148.

They have a website you can visit as well.

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