Sunday, March 14, 2004

Cards to cheer up homeless

Faith Matters

By Karen Vance
Enquirer contributor

OVER-THE-RHINE - A faith-based organization in Over-the-Rhine wants to make sure the homeless celebrate a happy birthday.

The City Gospel Mission plans to host a birthday celebration, complete with cake, cards and gifts, on April 8. The nondenominational nonprofit group, which has been in existence since 1924, served more than 5,000 people last year with services ranging from meals and clothing to rehabilitation.

For this event, the City Gospel Mission is asking people to send birthday cards to be handed out.

"An important part of what we do at the mission is help the people who come to us feel a measure of dignity and self-respect," said Wes Gilbert, development director for the mission. "We think it will give them a measure of hope to know that someone out there who doesn't even know them cares about them and wishes them a happy birthday."

Gilbert expects between 100 and 150 people will attend the birthday celebration, but he hopes to have enough cards to give people two or three and still keep some to pass out throughout the year.

"We're just asking people to buy a birthday card and sign it inside with an uplifting message," he said. "Most people that are homeless are marginalized. They feel like they're on the outside of society in general and don't know they're loved and valued.

"This is a way we can show kindness and treat them with respect. Show them someone cares," he said.

Send the cards to: Birthday Party, City Gospel Mission, 1419 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.

The mission is always looking for people to help on other projects and regular services. For more information, call 241-5525.

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