Don’t forget SHEM in time of need

Sweet Home Emergency Ministries has been the face of hope to many local residents who have seen tough times.

Created by local churches 27 years ago, the organization has served as a cooperative effort to feed the hungry and clothe the poor. It has provided housing, on occasion, to the homeless.

It’s a practical, effective way to show benevolence to people who need it – and to be able to screen out some who may not. Anyone who has been seriously involved in a local church or other benevolent organization knows that not everyone who comes to the door begging for help is always everything they appear to be. Some, unfortunately, are pros who work churches or anyone else with a generous spirit for freebies.

But many are not, and they are the ones SHEM has been created to help.

People who have lost their jobs.

People who have, for one reason or another, found themselves on the economic slippery slope.

People who have needs that are genuine.

Now SHEM has a genuine need, its leaders say. The organization is largely volunteer-run, but it is having difficulty coming up with the money to pay its administrator, who gets paid half-time but works full-time.

The problem, we’re told in the story that begins on page 1 of today’s paper, is that the folks who started SHEM, the churches, have fallen off in their support of the organization.

Churches often differ in their views of the scriptures and of God. They may differ in their approach to worship. They may differ in their approaches to reaching out to their neighbors.

But SHEM goes beyond differences in theology and practice. SHEM is about helping others in a practical way that has, no doubt, saved a lot of pain and heartache for local churches.

Local churchgoers should seriously consider what life in Sweet Home would be like without SHEM. In September it served 1,133 people, 444 of them children.

This isn’t a government program spending taxpayers’ money on people who’ve made a career in riding the gravy train. That’s the beauty of SHEM: It’s a private effort run by people who believe in helping others with their physical as well as spiritual needs.

When we get used to something, or just don’t understand it, it’s easy to take it for granted. Sometimes it takes the loss of something or someone to really appreciate it or them.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become the case with Sweet Home Emergency Ministries. This organization plays a vital role in our community and it’s time for local people, including those in churches, to step up and make sure it continues.

Because if SHEM disappears, who’s going to help the helpless who come to your door?