Reflections on Room in the Inn

One of the core missions of Trinity is to serve our homeless neighbors and support housing efforts in Charlotte.

Partnering with the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn program is one way to bring about positive change. Trinity is committed to being a host site throughout the RITI season.

This year, Trinity volunteers supported RITI on a weekly basis by providing 12 homeless neighbors a safe place to stay. Over the winter months, our volunteers provided 432 warm meals, 144 hot showers, and countless conversations. We are thankful for a church family that believes in this type of relational mission.

Below is the experience of one volunteer, which was shared with UMC earlier this year.

A Single Impact Story

The impact of Urban Ministry Center’s Room In The Inn (RITI) Program is impressive. This season, there were 16,407 beds provided thanks to the RITI program, which means 1,494 guests received a hot meal and shelter. That’s 1,494 men, women, and children who were able to avoid sleeping on the street or in a car or tent during Charlotte’s coldest months. While the numbers are always important in showing impact, this story is not about the stats. It’s the story of the impact of one Room In The Inn experience.

I have a friend who’s an alcoholic. It’s hard to care about and be friends with an alcoholic. The disease transforms them. They lie, they manipulate, they yell and get angry, and seemingly do everything they can to protect their addiction, despite your efforts to surround them with support. These common symptoms of alcoholism are often the reason that alcoholics end up alienating themselves from their support systems, only to be left alone to sink further into the abyss of self-destruction.

My journey and frustration with my friend had reached its peak in December and I had decided it was time for me to take a step back. Fed up with my friend’s lies, exhausted by her animosity towards me, and upset with her unwillingness to get help, I decided to give our friendship a break. I did so knowing that she would continue to drink and that there weren’t many people, if any, who would check in on her.

In the midst of this decision to walk away, I met a gentlemen at Room In The Inn who changed my mind. We sat and talked while eating lasagna and brownies and he told me about his own addiction to alcohol.  He proudly told me that he had been sober for 9 months. I told him about my friend and how frustrated and worried I was, and how I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t get the help she needed. I then confided that I had decided to walk away and take a break. He put his fork down, looked me in the eye, and said, “Don’t give up on your friend. God put you in her life and is working through you to get to her.” He went on to tell me that he was not kind when he was drinking and that he had someone in his life who stuck with him and didn’t give up on him. “It took me a while to hear my friend’s voice,” he said, “but once I did, I got help and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I thanked my new friend for his insight. He thanked me for treating him like an equal. My new friend was one of the guests at our church experiencing homelessness. He was close to getting back on his feet and into a home. He said that he loves Room in the Inn, not only because of the shelter it provides, but because you get to sit around the dinner table and talk with folks from different backgrounds. Then, he very poignantly described the humanity of the Room In The Inn Program. He said,  “Uptown, I feel ‘less than’ as I walk around people like you. But, here I feel equal because we all share similar problems.”

The impact of Room In The Inn is so much more than the story told by the numbers. It’s thousands of stories of impact from individuals who joined in fellowship as equals. As Maya Angelou so eloquently states in her poem Human Family, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

After taking the advice I received that night at RITI, I decided not to give up on my friend. She continues to wage a battle with alcohol, and I continue to be a voice of support in the hopes that one day she will hear it.