Saturday, August 8, 2009

Introducing Pastor Megan Rohrer and WELCOME - a communal response to poverty

Pastor Megan Rohrer has been the Executive Director of WELCOME (formerly the Welcome Ministry) since June of 2002 with calls from Ebenezer Lutheran Church (HerChurch), Christ Church Lutheran, St. Francis Lutheran and Saints Mary and Martha Lutheran.

The Welcome Ministry was created in 1996 as a homeless ministry. Under Megan's leadership and with the help of the SF Homeless Outreach Team, the Welcome Ministry was able to help more than 155 chronically homeless guests, many of whom had lived outdoors for more than twenty years, move indoors. Responding to the fact that a majority of their guests were now living indoors, the Weclcome Ministry board decided to change the organizations name to WELCOME - a communal response to poverty.

WELCOME continues to work with many of the same guests to help them stay indoors, to recover from addiction and to live healither and more independent lives. Because most San Francisco residents living in poverty live in SRO's (Single Room Occupancy Hotel Rooms) without kitchens in their individual living quarters, Megan recognized the need to grow healthy food and have it prepared for guests who were unable to utilize typical food pantries.

The Urban Share Community Gardening Project exists as one part of a larger model, rooted in the notion of empowerment. By including WELCOME's guests in every stage of the food making process, guests can work to nourish their own bodies; from planting, growing and harvesting, to preparing and cooking, they now have access to actively participate in their community, feeding themselves and each other while healing from trauma and learning important life skills.

Megan has began working on the Urban Share Community Gardening Project since 2007 with the desire to act as the link between gardeners and organizations across the nation, connecting them to one another to implement them. Once the garden has been built, the community will take it under their wing, allowing for a model of self-sustainability.

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