What is Empower our Neighbors in Need?
Samaritan Ministry originally launched the campaign as the Empower the Homeless (ENN) campaign in 2014 to raise awareness of the daily struggles of people living without permanent housing; to raise the visibility of and participation in Samaritan Ministry within our parishes, schools and neighborhoods; and to provide an opportunity for people to express their solidarity with the homeless in our communities.
ENN was a six-month campaign to generate awareness about homelessness as well as to generate volunteers and funds to support the work of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW). In the spring of 2020 as the pandemic was initially gripping our community and the nation, the name was changed to Empower our Neighbors in Need (ENN) to recognize the increased need throughout the community, beyond the specific topic of homelessness, during these challenging times.
ANY event or activity designed to promote awareness of SMGW’s mission and work counts as an ENN event.
How to organize an ENN event at my church or school
To begin, find out if you don’t know:
- Have you done an ENN event?
- Was it a success and do you want to do the same type of event again?
- Or, are you ready to build upon what you’ve done in the past with a goal of including more people or engaging people at a deeper level?
The first step you want to take is to get your event — whether you are clear on its details or not — on the church or school calendar.
Who holds the calendar and who has the authority to add events to it? The rector, an administrator? Talk with that person(s), figure out your options and decide on a date. Either way, be sure you have the clergy or appropriate staff “on board” – they may not lead the charge, but they need to bless and affirm it!
Ideas for your ENN Event
This is the most high-leverage action you can take because it allows your parishioners to spend time with either SMGW’s Executive Director David Wolf and/or a Samaritan Ministry participant who has graduated from the Next Step Program. David is an Episcopal priest and is available to preach at your Sunday services (most rectors appreciate the coverage of more than one!). Or you may wish to have a participant tell their story as part of your rector’s sermon – or as a stand-alone event that David or someone else cues up.
Alternatively, or in addition to a sermon, you may wish to have an adult forum on the challenges facing our neighbors in need and how Samaritan Ministry responds, with David or one of Samaritan Ministry’s participant-graduates facilitating the discussion in partnership with your church leadership.
David is very willing to co-create a Samaritan Sunday with you.
You can do this with partners in your neighborhood. It’s a way to include whole families in your event. You might partner with another church or place of worship within a couple of miles of your church or school to create a walk that starts at one location and ends at another place where people gather. Or you may wish to do a walk focused just on the members of your own community.
Other events that have worked include:
- Strawberry shortcake and ice cream event;
- A bar-b-que where homeless people in your neighborhood are invited to join your parishioners;
- An indoor or outdoor concert where there is brief sharing at intermission;
- Yard sale, or;
- Whatever idea you come up with!
Food, clothing or toiletry drives
As a lead-up to an ENN event or as the event itself, some churches do a big drive on one Sunday for toiletries, for example, using either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, as the occasion. Others use an extended time and make drop off items periodically.
You can do a single drive or some combination, e.g. toiletries and food – sometimes these are more effective because it engages diverse contributions from more people.
These drives often culminate with a Samaritan Sunday, a visit by a Samaritan participant-graduate, a sermon, a forum, or some combination that addresses this struggle and our response, as mentioned above.
Getting others involved and getting organized
The first place to look is:
- Who already knows about SMGW in your parish?
- Who is on the Outreach Committee?
- Who is new in your parish and might welcome an opportunity to become more involved?
- Who is good at making things happen in your parish or school? Seek their counsel about how to have a successful event and invite them to be part of your team.
- Create a timeline that shows what needs to happen by when and who is responsible for each step along the way.
- Will you need tables, chairs, or the kitchen at your church? Who do you need to coordinate this with?
- What costs do you expect to have? Will team members cover them or will you need to seek some funds from your parish, outreach committee or school?
SMGW has materials to support your event:
- Empower the Homeless t-shirts in all sizes, which you can make available before your event for team members and then sell on the day of your event for $25 each
- Donation envelopes
- Participant cards to give to homeless persons or others with information about the services of Samaritan Ministry and the addresses of our offices
- Additional information about who Samaritan Ministry is and what we do
Publicizing your event
Take advantage of your church’s or school’s regular e-newsletter, website, Facebook or Twitter page to publicize your event – we are active on Facebook and Twitter and will help promote your event there. (Ruby Wilson is available to work with you in crafting your promotional communications.) For churches, you will also want something to appear in your bulletin for at least the three Sundays before your event, if possible. You may want to have a flyer for your church information table, with information about how to connect with your team to volunteer or make a contribution.
Talk it up during coffee hours or other times and be sure your rector and other leaders are aware of the event and are promoting it, both formally and informally.
As appropriate, depending on the type of event you create, invite neighbors, other churches or social service agencies in the area to join you.
Line up one of your team members to take photos at your event so that you can “tell the story” in your own communications as well as share them with Samaritan Ministry for the website, Facebook and publications.
Encourage all participants to share the event in their own social media!
We highly recommend that you bring your committee together shortly after your event to review how it went:
- What went well and what could have been done differently?
- What lessons did you learn?
- Will this same team come together for another Samaritan Ministry event?
- Who needs to be acknowledged and thanked (don’t forgot your maintenance people and other regulars at the church who helped you out)?
- Any borrowed items that need to be returned?
- Have all funds generated been forwarded to Samaritan Ministry along with photos?
Top 10 on How to Take Photographs by John Coonrod,
- Have a clear “subject” and get as close to your subject as possible. Wide shots of “scenes” or rooms full of people (particularly the backs of people) are almost always boring.
- Keep track of the sun, and make sure it is behind you. Shooting someone in front of a window, or outside with the sun behind them is almost always a disaster.
- Know the “rule of thirds” – the eye want to see the subject of a photo not in the midway point of a picture, but at the ⅓ line (notice how they do this on TV).
- Pose people. Involve people. Make sure you have their permission and partnership to photograph them. Get them to smile. Don’t assume “candid” pictures are better than posed pictures – posed pictures are almost always better.
- If a person is talking, wait till they pause. A still photo of a talking mouth is almost always surprisingly unattractive. If your camera can do “multi-shot,” use it – at least one of the pictures may be ok.
- Group pictures. Be a firm director – shout orders to get people in place, to make sure nobody is blocked. Get them waving or shouting or something dynamic. Take lots of shots, using multi-shot if you have it, to weed out people with eyes shut or hidden.
- Understand autofocus. For example, if your camera is set to focus on the middle, then following the rule of thirds will give you an unfocused picture. If it autofocuses on faces, that’s a good thing. Autofocus takes time, so be sure to wait until your camera is focused.
- Be conscious of the background, and avoid distractions. Avoid anything in the background that doesn’t contribute to telling the story – particularly other faces.
- Learn how to “fix it in post” – that is, understand the ability of your computer’s photo program to auto fix the exposure, crop out distractions, and particularly how to pull details out of shadow.
- Throw away at least half of your pictures. No point in keeping more than the best version of a subject. Six good pictures are much better than 100 mediocre ones.