ENID, Okla. — Local ministries and nonprofits are seeking participants for a resource fair and a “sleep-out” event Oct. 10 in observation of World Homeless Day.
Enid Faith Ways and Holy Cross Enid have scheduled a resource fair and meal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 10 in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church, in the 500 block of West Randolph.
After the resource fair and meal, participants will begin Enid's first "Sleep Out" to mimic one night on the street in Enid without shelter.
According to a press release, World Homeless Day emerged from online discussions between people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world, the first marked on Oct. 10, 2010. Since its founding, the day has been observed on every continent except Antarctica, in several dozen countries.
Rhonda Stevison, with Enid Faith Ways, said the aim of the Enid event is to raise awareness and to spur more compassionate understanding “of our unsheltered sisters and brothers.”
“We work every day in ministry to the unsheltered,” Stevison said, “and we want the broader Enid community to meet and see their unsheltered neighbors for what they are — beloved children of God.”
Stevison said Enid Faith Ways and Holy Cross partner for day-to-day ministry to the unsheltered, and provide physical needs such as clothes, tents, sleeping bags, food, water, bicycles, and also provide spiritual care through weekly church services and one-on-one pastoral care.
“We know not everyone gets to interact with the unsheltered on a daily basis,” Stevison said, “and we hope World Homeless Day will give everyone in Enid an opportunity to see our unsheltered neighbors as they are — as human beings who deserve our compassion, our mercy and our love, without exception or prerequisite.”
Any church, nonprofit or organization that has resources to assist the unsheltered population is invited to participate in the resource fair. Sponsorship support has been offered from CDSA, First United Methodist Church, Salvation Army of Enid and Enid First Presbyterian Church.
Salvation Army of Enid will serve free meals, provided by Enid Faith Ways, Holy Cross, CDSA and First Presbyterian. Sponsorships still are available for the event to help cover the cost of the meal.
Participants are asked to fundraise by seeking sponsorship from their church congregations, family and friends for them to spend one night living without shelter.
Those who are willing and able are also asked to fast from their evening meal on Saturday until the evening meal on Sunday to mirror the resources available to Enid's unsheltered population.
"Even if you can't participate in the rest of the event, fasting for that 24-hour period will give you an opportunity to remember, think about and pray for our unsheltered neighbors," Stevison said, "and to pray for our community as we seek more open and compassionate long-term solutions.”
All participants in Enid Sleep Out will sleep in a group — following social distancing guidelines — and are asked to bring minimal items, such as a sleeping bag and folding chair.
“Above all, we want you to bring your eyes, ears and heart,” Stevison said.