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In this profile, Nancy Harwood shares information about the WPC Motel Ministry, her involvement with it, and how others can support this important work for the community.
Tell us about yourself and why you got interested in this ministry.
NH: I grew up in northern Illinois. I was a stay-at-home mom raising my three children and three stepchildren. I lived in Albuquerque, NM, for fifteen years; before that I lived in Virginia Beach for thirty years. I came to Williamsburg to be closer to my son and daughter in Virginia Beach.
I have been a Presbyterian most of my life. At First Presbyterian in Virginia Beach, I was in charge of cooking meals for the homeless shelter. I can't remember how often we did this, but it was at least once a month. In New Mexico I was in charge of meals when we had overnight guests for a week. This was several times a year. Before I joined WPC I looked into our outreach ministry and liked what we were doing.
I have been involved for about six or seven years. I have always been interested in feeding the homeless. It gives me great satisfaction to know I am helping these people.
Describe the motel ministry.
NH: We provide a meal the first Friday of every month to homeless people temporarily living in two motels — the Captain John Smith and the Zuma Motel, both on Richmond Road. We serve a hot entree, vegetable, and bread. In separate bags, we leave behind bags which contain eight items of food, fresh fruit and homemade cookies. For families that have children, we add cereal, peanut butter and crackers and anything else we have that is appropriate. We represent WPC on the first Friday; other churches take other Fridays. The overall program is part of the From His Hands ministry, which has stepped up so spectacularly during this recession; Ellen Mauer was instrumental in getting WPC involved in the ministry.
We are helping people who are homeless. When we deliver the meals, we have no or little contact with these people. From the room lists I get monthly I have noticed that some people have been there for quite a while.
How many meals do you serve?
NH: It varies depending on how many homeless people are assigned to the motels. Typically, there are 30 people in the Captain John Smith, including a couple of kids, and fifteen to nineteen in the Zuma. There is one family in the Zuma.
Where do you prepare the food?
NH: Before Covid, we used the church kitchen but that was interrupted for a while. When we couldn’t use the kitchen, we bought meals from a couple of restaurants. We are back to using the church kitchen again.
Can other church members help?
NH: Members of the church can help by volunteering to buy fresh fruit, bake cookies, donate large frozen lasagnas, or do meal delivery and meal preparation. I have a list of people I can call on, but I would always welcome help. Call the church office if you would like to help.
Also, I should mention that the Super Bowl of Caring fundraiser done by the youth of the church provides the funds I use when I need to buy things.
Mondays -Thursdays 9am - 5pmFridays 9am - 1pm