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Interfaith Hospitality Network

From the Fall, 2015 Rainbow Reporter, by Beth Fuqua

As a moderately introverted, lifelong worrier, sharing responsibility for transforming Red Gables into the temporary home for a week for three to five families is a fraught endeavor to say the least.  Will the adults and children feel welcome?  Will enough volunteers step up to provide meals? Will our guests like the menu? Will the children staying with us be high energy and in constant motion, or quiet and shy? Will we have enough volunteers to engage with all of them? Will the weather cooperate and be warm, but not oppressively hot or rainy, so that the kids can enjoy playing outside? Will I and other volunteers find things to talk about with our adult guests? Will there be enough volunteers to cover what I believe to be the easiest task…sleeping overnight at Red Gables?

What I have learned over the past three summers as one-third of the trio that coordinates our Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) host week is that every year is different. SignUpGenius gradually fills up with many returning BK volunteers, as well as a first timer or two. We welcome a new group of guests.  Some years all the families are headed by single mothers; other years we host one or more two-parent households.  Some years there are more children than others. The mix of children staying at Red Gables also varies, with some years more teens and other years more little ones. Some years there are more boys than girls; sometimes it’s the other way around. Sometimes the weather is lovely, and I am outside playing gaga, kicking a soccer ball, or blowing bubbles, transported back to the days when my sons were younger. Other weeks, it rains and rains, and I play board games or become reacquainted with my favorite kid movies.

And yet there is much that is the same every year. I meet our guests and I am filled with admiration as they strive, under trying circumstances, to move toward a return to a home of their own.  I get to interact with a variety of BK members, always getting to know someone new.  I get to hold a baby and much to my family’s dismay, express my glee at the pleasure of smelling the baby’s head.  I meet one or more members of BK’s youngest generation as they live the values they are taught in Religious School, performing acts of loving-kindness and helping us to welcome strangers.  And at the end of the week, despite all my anticipatory worry and no matter what unexpected glitches arose, when the IHN van departs for the next host congregation, I am grateful for this year’s IHN experience and the opportunity to connect with our guests and the BK community

Feeling inspired to learn more, to get involved during our host week NEXT summer, or to support IHN in other ways throughout the year?  Here’s how!
  • Mark Bnai Keshet’s 2016 host week on your calendar… AUGUST 7 – 14
  • Send an email to me at asking to be added to my IHN SignUpGenius email blast
  • Attend IHN’s Annual Fundraising Breakfast at Mayfair Farms in West Orange on Wednesday, October 14 from 7:45 – 9:00 AM. It is an informative and inspiring event that ends precisely on time.  Although it is a fundraiser,  the breakfast is free and guests are not required to make a  donation, though it is hoped they will.   If you’d like to  attend, call or email Beth Fuqua at 973-783-6573
  • Like and Follow IHN on Facebook
Fri, December 15 2017 27 Kislev 5778