Did you see this MLive article about retired coach Dick Shilts’ work to distribute winter coats that turn into full size sleeping bags for people sleeping outdoors in ourlocal homeless encampments? “Coach” as most of us call him, is active on the ISAAC Leadership Board as a representative of First United Methodist Church, and on the ISAAC Anti-Racism Task Force. The sleeping bag coats are made by Empowerment Plan, a nonprofit that employs people experiencing homelessness in Detroit, to help them regain sustainable housing. Each coat costs $131, and Coach Dick Shilts and his church have raised the funds for and distributed 85 of them! (And see the even more impressive numbers in the Update below!)
This is a wonderful example of how much desperately-needed work ISAAC member congregations and organizations are doing “caring for our neighbors”—responding to immediate needs–while together as ISAAC we are doing the also desperately-needed work of “social justice”–changing the way things work, by getting policies and practices infused with love, hope, equity and abundance, so there won’t be so many of our neighbors struggling to survive.
“For 50 years, Shilts has been part of a book discussion group, Dawn Patrol, through the First United Methodist Church. The group of mostly older white men read “Dear White Christians” and felt their perspectives challenged and opinions changed, Shilts said. “It became a group trying to move from being able to say ‘we’re not racist,’ to a group that wanted to say, ‘we are anti-racist,’” he said. They invited people of color from different faiths, organizations and backgrounds and found their conversations became more in-depth, Shilts said. Their conversations surrounding books like “Dying of Whiteness” and “When They Call You A Terrorist” sparked not only a better understanding of racism, Shilts said, but also a deeper question for the group: “What are we doing about it?”
To make a contribution toward sleeping bag coats, contact Dick Shilts, firstname.lastname@example.org.