Emergency Shelter Program to Host ‘Warm Up Williamsburg’ Fundraiser

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Warming Up WilliamsburgA local charitable organization is hoping to warm up Williamsburg in more ways than one this month.

Community of Faith Mission is hosting a “Warm Up Williamsburg” soup-tasting event Jan. 29 to raise money for its ministry, which was established in 2012 as a “faith-based, non-governmental low barrier emergency shelter program” operated by a group of volunteers from several area churches, according to the group’s mission statement.

Co-founders Kathy Banfield and Renee Collins recognized the need for a shelter to serve the local homeless population during the cold weather months and began researching how to put together such a program in 2012. They quickly found that numerous local churches and faith communities were interested in helping them coordinate the initiative, and Community of Faith Mission was born.

From November through March of each year, Community of Faith Mission organizes a rotating shelter schedule to ensure that homeless families and individuals have somewhere warm to sleep every night. Shelter locations include:

  • St. Bede Catholic Church
  • CrossWalk Community Church
  • Williamsburg Presbyterian Church
  • Williamsburg United Methodist Church
  • Williamsburg Christian Church
  • Williamsburg Church of Christ
  • New Town United Methodist Church
  • St. John Baptist Church
  • Williamsburg United Methodist Church
  • Bruton Parish Church
  • Hickory Neck Episcopal Church
  • Life Church
  • Williamsburg Community Chapel
  • Walnut Hills Baptist Church
  • Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church
  • James River Baptist Church
  • Smith Memorial Baptist Church

Every shelter church is partnered with another local church or faith communities that will help provide volunteers, food and support to the shelter hosts. Partner churches for this season include:

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • First Baptist Church
  • Greater City
  • Hickory Neck Episcopal Church
  • James City Community Church
  • Kingdom Life Church
  • King of Glory Lutheran Church
  • New Zion Baptist Church
  • St. Olaf Catholic Church
  • St. Stephen Lutheran Church
  • Stonehouse Presbyterian Church
  • Temple Beth El
  • Unity Fellowship Church
  • Williamsburg Baptist Church
  • Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists
  • Zion Baptist Church

Through the volunteer efforts of this extensive list of area churches, Community of Faith Mission is able to provide not only shelter but also food and basic hygiene supplies to homeless individuals and families for 126 consecutive days.

Last winter the program served 109 individuals, many of whom stayed in the shelters for weeks at a time. Despite a spell of warm weather in December, the mission has already served more than 80 individuals this winter.

The Warm Up Williamsburg fundraiser, which is in its second year, is the only major fundraising initiative for the group and the proceeds from the event are a vital component of keeping the program going.

Chefs from local restaurants and grocery stores including Aromas, the Carrot Tree, Center Street Grill, the Coffeehouse, the Community Café, Fat Canary, Cheese Shop, Food for Thought, Fresh Market, Martin’s, Paul’s Deli, Plaza Azteca, Sal’s by Victor, Second Street Bistro and Victoria’s will donate their soups for the fundraiser, while Panera Bread will provide bread and dessert.

The fundraiser will also feature live music by the JNM Band and DoubleTake A Cappella.

“I think this community has a very warm heart for people in desperate situations, and this [fundraiser] is a great chance to help out,” Banfield said. “Williamsburg is a very giving community.”

The Warm Up Williamsburg fundraiser will take place at Williamsburg United Methodist Church from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 29. Tickets are $20 a person and can be purchased here or by calling 757-220-0484.