CUMBERLAND — A group of women clad in black and wearing backpacks walked through the downtown mall Saturday morning, offering passersby food, water and prayers.
In the backpacks, they carried with them ham, egg and cheese sandwiches, bottles of water and bananas to give to anyone who desired something to eat.
The group of women, most from the Women’s Hope Home located on the corner of Greenway and Brookfield avenues, were joined by one man and engaging in street ministry as part of CityReach Church in Cumberland’s twice monthly outreach program. The program runs during the second and fourth Saturday of each month.
“We call it our street ministry,” said Andy Pannone. “The main part of what we do, ultimately, is to do what Jesus instructed the apostles to do.”
Normally a group of men from the Hope Home for Men, located on Arch Street, are with them, said Autymn Kifer; however, they had work elsewhere on Saturday.
The Hope Home for Men came about when, in 2014, a $50,000 grant was secured to open the recovery center. The Women’s Hope Home was opened less than a year later.
The homes have close ties with CityReach Church in Cumberland, as it is a community outreach-based parish that focused on helping low-income, single mothers and homeless individuals in the area.
“It’s a 9- to 12-month discipleship program for women who were lost, broken, addicted — that have any life-controlling issues,” said Kifer, who’s been the director of the home for the past year, and who was once a resident of the home and an addict for 18 years. “They come here and we love them where they’re at.”
It’s important for people that would normally not garner a second look from people due to their circumstance to be giving and kind, Kifer said.
“Jesus chose unlikely people to do amazing things,” Pannone said.
More information about CityReach Church in Cumberland can be found on Facebook at CityReach Cumberland.
Follow staff writer Brandon Glass on Twitter @Bglass13.