Alex Guest to pass baton in housing ministry
After an extraordinary 8 years leading A&HTs ministry to homeless families, Alex Guest is ready to pass the baton to the next runners in what is proving to be a national marathon.
The fastest rising segment of America’s homeless population is children. By hosting homeless families six nights a year at Christ Church Glendale, our parish team is part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a highly successful shelter ministry that minimizes expenses by engaging a network of congregations who take turns hosting families overnight for a week at a time.
61% of the guests are children, most under the age of 10. IHN aided 340 families in 2016, twice the number in 2015. 93% have regained and maintained stable housing thanks to the programs at IHN.
From the very beginning, Alex’s own three children have been vital members of A&HT’s team, starting when her youngest, Meredith, was in preschool. They have helped serve meals and provide welcome relief to stressed parents by organizing delightful activities after supper.
This set a winsome example to the wider parish, with many other families bringing their children. “We love participating in IHN and Alex has done a wonderful job facilitating the whole process. She’s made it easy to be involved,” says Rosemary Miller. “Our part is a small commitment to making a big difference in someone else’s life.”
“Bringing her family along, and the way they interact with guests, is a blessing,” adds Nancy Melville, who has served with her husband Duff as the overnight hosts in our IHN team for many years and are both now also retiring.
Alex generously agreed to coordinate A&HT’s IHN team just months after moving to Cincinnati in 2008. Almost immediately, she organized a service project party for the Wyoming Newcomers’ Club at which parents and children assembled move-in baskets of household essentials for families moving out of shelter and back into stable homes.
That was a classic example of her strategy: to open the eyes of Wyoming families to the desperate plight of Greater Cincinnati’s homeless children and to immediately engage them in practical steps to ameliorate the situation. IHN was founded in Cincinnati in 1991 in response to the growing epidemic of family homelessness following drastic cuts in federal funding for housing subsidies and affordable housing development in the 1980’s. Families return from host congregations to the IHN Day Center in Eden Park early in the morning. There, with the help of case managers and access to health care, computers and laundry, they work on overcoming the problems that made them homeless.
Alex’s ministry is part of her family’s multigenerational response to America’s affordable housing crisis. Her father, Maurice Bason, spearheaded Valley Habitat for Humanity in the 1980’s, and Maurice and Gail Bason were recruited by Alex as key members of the A&HT IHN hosting team. The Guests’ daughter Madi is part of the senior high youth team who got the parish involved in Hope Habitat last year and continue that ministry through their fundraising and advocacy.
This family exemplifies taking God’s love into the world hands-on, engaging the wider community in understanding, owning, and acting to overcome a huge humanitarian crisis. Thank you, Alex, for equipping us to be God’s hands to neighbors in dire need!
by Ariel Miller