Saturday Morning Outreach
On any given Saturday, in the snow, heat, or driving rain, from 7 to 8:30 AM, you will find people from Living Water, serving their hearts out on the corner of 2nd and State Street, a mere two blocks away from the state capitol. Strategically timed and placed near the St. Patrick’s Cathedral while the local food bank provides breakfast, this inspiring team greets the homeless with immediate-need items like snacks, clothing, and toiletries, friendly conversation, and the Gospel. And not necessarily in that order.
He had a dream.
Wayne and Kim Cooley, leaders of this Saturday morning group, began their ministry in 2018 when Wayne, a Harrisburg native, had a dream where God clearly told him to serve the homeless in Harrisburg. Together, this husband and wife powerhouse began a non-profit ministry they named “Cry Out Loud Ministries", taken from Isaiah 58:1.
Obedience shapes the objective.
While the original ministry model was to be a food truck to feed the homeless, Wayne’s scripture reference clearly meant more than serving a hot meal. Prayerfully navigating through the early days of their ministry, they began to attend Living Water, and met Mike Bongo, our director of Outreach Ministries, who was already doing his own street evangelism. In April of 2021, Wayne and Kim were placed over the Saturday Outreach, and within months, Living Water volunteers jumped in to help.
If not us, then who?
Under the loving direction of Wayne and Kim, the current team is comprised of upwards of 13 volunteers of all ages and walks of life, including two adorable school-aged girls and their dad. Like every outreach ministry, a need is met, the Gospel is served, and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, everyone plays a part, according to their spiritual gifts. These are ordinary people, like you or I, who love Jesus and people and want to be a light. And this ministry needs more of us.
But more of us to do…what?
Each week, Kim set up tables that have particular items to give away, depending on the Saturday of the month they visit. This is where the volunteers assist their friends on what items would benefit them most, and oftentimes will take specific requests like a size 15 shoe, or a tent. Christian literature is also available, and the team prayerfully approaches people as they are led. Some are willing to hear the gospel, and others agree to be prayed over. But much of the time, these folks are looking for conversation with people who treat them with kindness, interest, and respect.
But don't take my word for it. Feast your eyes on the insights of a fifteen-year-old girl named Rachel pictured above.
I've witnessed that this outreach ministry provides a practical way to serve the homeless and needy of Harrisburg in the name of Jesus by helping meet their physical and emotional needs.
Since this ministry is a team effort as well as individual, it provides me with the opportunity to fellowship with other believers as I serve. The best part, though, is that God works through His people and by His Spirit to impact lives with the truths of God's Word. ~Rachel Hess
The world needs Jesus, and Saturday Outreach needs more people with a servant's heart like Rachel's.
Who am I serving?
While images of Tent City under the I-83 (South) bridge, or the January 2023 evacuation of the homeless under the Mulberry Street Bridge may come to mind when you think of homelessness, there is also a demographic called the working poor who live on the street or in temporary housing who have low paying jobs or are on government assistance, that need help to make ends meet. Wayne and Kim don’t ask for a financial statement of earnings when they come through the line, and everyone who comes, in the range of 60 people per week, is served with compassion and respect. Kim states that many of the regulars, whom she knows by name, have figured out a way to live on the streets, partially through services like theirs.
Kim says: “I know this would not be OUR choice, but it’s not up to us. It’s our job to love them, and to share the love of Christ with them.”
Spoken from a servant's heart.
But is it safe?
Because the homeless population is synonymous with drug use and mental illness, there is an element of risk involved.
This ministry serves on a Saturday morning with numerous volunteers, including those within St. Patrick’s Cathedral. There is also a spiritual element, a hedge of protection, where God is faithful to guard those who serve Him. Further, there is a heightened awareness by those who do this every week. There is safety in numbers.
Support it with your financial resources.
Kim and Wayne will not solicit donations, as they feel led to fund most of the expenses as a form of tithing. However, if you wish to donate financially, there are a couple of ways you can do this.
Indicate “Saturday Morning Outreach” in addition to your tithing to Living Water Community Church.
Donate gift cards to local fast food restaurants to be handed out to the people, or retailers such as Ollies or Dollar General so that needed items can be purchased. These can be given to Mike Bongo through the church office with “Saturday Outreach” printed on an envelope. Or give it to Kim directly.
Donate items. There is a huge need for blankets, coats, warm socks, and other outdoor items as we approach the winter months, but each Saturday of the month is specific. Please refer to the list below for what other items you can donate.
Every week we bring toilet paper, Sterno, and hand warmers ( during the winter months)
Hygiene products - for both men and women
- shaving cream and razors
washcloths and toothpaste
-washcloths and soap
- AAA and AA batteries
- hand warmers
- protein (tuna salad kits, chicken salad kits, Vienna sausages)
- fruit cups or pudding
- Nutri-grain bars or granola bars
- 3 laundry pods with 4 dryer sheets
- worship through music
Donations (other than gift cards) can be placed in the table downstairs in Living Water's library. If you think you want to be a part of this loving team, you can just show up on Second and State Street where there is plenty of free parking. You can also contact Kim Cooley at email@example.com or 717-817-7389. She would love to talk to you about this ministry.
Calling all prayer warriors.
If you can’t be present, and you can’t give, Wayne and Kim covet your prayers. Pray for the homeless people dealing with drug addiction, mental illness, and other dangers on the street. Pray for the teams that go down there each week that God would protect them from any dangers and provide them with discernment and wisdom. Pray that they are a light, and that people come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Finally, a picture...
This one photo encapsulates what I believe is the heart of Saturday Outreach. If you can see yourself where Teri is sitting, or standing behind the tables handing out had warmers or Tide pods, I urge you to prayerfully consider just showing up. It's hard to tell who will be more blessed by your service.