The Creation of Micah Ministries, 2005

Micah was formed by seven churches as a result of the Save Our Shelter effort to find the Thurman Brisben Center a new home.  The churches were St. George’s, Trinity, The Presbyterian Church, Fredericksburg United Methodist, Shiloh Baptist (Old Site), Fredericksburg Baptist, & Tower of Deliverance (Pastor Joseph Henderson) formed Micah Ecumenical Ministry  

In May, 2004, the Vestry minutes noted that  Micah had added a coordinating committee of laity and had asked Gayle Lea and George Beddoe from St. George’s to serve on this committee.  Beddoe  reported that the committee consisting of lay members from all seven churches had been divided into three subcommittees:  (1) to discern what each of the 7 churches was doing in the way of local outreach to see if there were ways of combining and consolidating efforts to make the overall effort more effective (Gayle Lea was leading this effort), (2) to evaluate the effectiveness and prognosis of the current Salvation Army’s Community Assessment Program to help the churches decide whether or not to continue to support this function, and (3) the “Dream Team” subcommittee headed by George, which was to dream big dreams about what was possible for these seven churches to do together in Fredericksburg along the lines of several models that had been looked at which involved one-stop shopping to meet all Abraham Maslow-type needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.), i.e., a Hospitality Center, transitional housing, and the like. 

 George explained that the Coordinating Committee was meeting twice monthly and after the second meeting had met with the clergy who had redirected the Coordinating Committee to stop dreaming and get on with transitional housing and a hospitality center in the short term.  

Micah Hospitality Center opened its doors on April 15, 2005. The concept was  a one-stop place to keep the needy from moving from church to church and provide basic services as well as help them plan the net steps. The first location was at Trinity Episcopal church “It’s a critical need,” said the Rev. Kent Rahm, Trinity’s senior rector. “Homeless people need a place to get out of the cold, where they can shower and get a little help.”The hospitality center will be at Trinity’s Jamison Hall on College Avenue.

The hospitality center would augment care provided the Thurman Brisben Center, the regional homeless shelter in Fredericksburg. Typically those staying at the Brisben shelter work during the day or seek job training or have appointments with social services agencies.  

The Center serves the disadvantaged population in the Fredericksburg area by providing a warm, safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere for individuals in need of a simple meal, shower, and a change of clothing.  Guests can receive messages and mail, make local telephone calls and get help with finding a job, etc. if they want to improve their situation.  The Center also provides information about and guidance in accessing local resources as well as emergency assistance with food.    

Jim Dannals wrote about St. George’s support in 2005 in his first year at St. George’s&:

“We, at St. George’s, provide leadership to the Micah Ecumenical Ministry, its Coordinating Committee, and the Micah Hospitality Center operating currently at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Jamison Hall with church staff and volunteers. We have provided funding to other Micah Ecumenical Ministry endeavors in prior years (sleeping bags and tents), and we are providing a minimum of $5,000 during the calendar year 2005 to the Hospitality Center itself.  This support will continue and undoubtedly increase in future years.   

“We currently have six volunteers signed up to work weekly with the chronically homeless at the Micah Hospitality Center in addition to the leadership staff.  Threeof these have been working on Fridays since January 3, 2005.   

“Additionally, we will provide food, clothing, payment for prescriptions, rent, gasoline, utilities, and other needs when the Micah Hospitality Center makes a request on behalf of one of the needy it serves.  One objective we have is to reduce the number of visits those without medical insurance make to the Mary Washington Hospital’s Emergency Room as the avenue of first resort for any medical need.” 
Micah received a Mary Washington Hospital grant for $20,000 in 2005 to serve the homeless population.  In a letter in  2006 they wrote that “reviewing our collected data for the past six months (July, 2005 to December, 2005), we served 402 head of households while providing our service a total of 1723 times.  This number does not reflect the number of children or spouses within a household nor the number of individuals we provided information and referrals to via telephone.  On any given day, we serve anywhere from 10 to 22 individuals during the two hours we are open.  As you can see, the need for service is much greater than we had initially anticipated. 

In a letter to the hospital in Feb. 2006, they wrote about trying to reduce the use of the hospital’s emergency room by the homeless by refering individuals with medical needs to Moss Clinic, Thurman Brisben Center’s MD, or the Fredericksburg Christian Health Center. In addition, we are trying to bring more of the medical services to the patrons of Micah.  

“To address the medical needs of Micah’s guests, the center posts health related information on the bulletin board, i.e. flu shots, free prostrate cancer screening, free dental services, free HIV testing, etc. and encourages our guests to participate.  Also posted is the Medical Van calendar and locations, Moss Clinic information, as well as information on services available at the Health Department and appropriate Dental Programs, etc.  Micah also uses a referral form, enabling individuals to gain access to medical services not available otherwise.  Our community services board also lists other services available to our guests within the greater Fredericksburg community, e.g. support groups, tax information, RACSB outreach worker services, etc. “ 

In August, 2006, they wrote “the Center offers in-house services such as asthma screening, blood pressure checks, and blood sugar checks in order to meet the needs of our guests.  In addition, the Mobile Health Clinic has added the Center as one of their monthly stops.  We continue to expand the variety of medical services offered to the expanding number of people we serve.”

By Dec., 2007, Fredericksburg Baptist Church had bought the space next to them at 1013 Princess Anne Street for a new Micah location that would offer more room for the hospitality center weekday mornings as well as office spaces for the staff.