Reaching Out to Homeless LGBT Community

April 17, 2012
Maher Alhaj Uniting America AmeriCorps Fellow

I would like to highlight a very special faith group who is going above and beyond the realm of what most faith institutions do when it comes to community service. They are called the Emmaus Ministries (EM) and they are located in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. I was honored to attend one of their meetings and learn about the community service they do and how I could partner with them on future events. 

I got connected with the EM through Rev. Jerome Adams, the Associate Producer of Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries. I have been in touch with Rev. Adams because he invited me and other Uniting America Fellows to be on one or more of the broadcasts he is producing. In one of my meetings with Rev. Adams, I happened to discuss an HIV outreach event that I am working on.  Rev. Adams then graciously explained that he too is involved with a group that does similar work, and from there, he connected me with the EM. 

The EM is not an ordinary ministry. Not only they have been rigorously working on doing HIV outreach through a “Know Your Status” campaign, but they are also reaching out strategically to the areas where the HIV epidemic is evident the most, among the homeless, the young, and in places where HIV outreach is not particularly popular. Their methods are also very inspiring. For example, in an upcoming HIV event they are planning, they have a hip-hop music fest, a youth T-shirt contest and an interactive HIV related art; I was really impressed by the amount of creativity they are including in their work. But more than that, they strive to educate themselves about the differences of others. One recent workshop they attended was aiming to educate the staff about issues of the LGBTO community. The workshop aimed to be a best practice guide for them, and as they reflected on that workshop in the meeting I was attending, they all agreed that the workshop was very educational and .

While such a community service workload for such a small ministry is very impressive, they do not stop there. One of the most appealing aspects of the Ministry, in my opinion, is the fact that they reach out to male prostitutes. The EM believes that these people are victims of their unjust circumstances and they do all they can to help them; they pull them off the streets. 

Impressive work, don’t you think?