This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Kansas ministry offers warmth to homeless community

Yes, there’s a homeless shelter in Hutchinson, Kan., but no, it’s only open at night. That bothered Lois Mast and her daughter Heidi Mast, who recognized the cold can be just as bitter when people are turned out at 8 a.m.

Emily Yutzy serves coffee Jan. 26 to a man named Glen at the Coffee Corner in Hutchinson, Kan. — Heidi Mast
Emily Yutzy serves coffee Jan. 26 to a man named Glen at the Coffee Corner in Hutchinson, Kan. — Heidi Mast

“The need was here, and it was evident it was time to do something,” said Heidi Mast, whose family attends Center Amish Mennonite Church in rural Hutchinson. “We spent some time praying about it and doing some research and connecting with other organizations in town to make sure that we weren’t duplicating a service.”

Their solution was to use an empty property owned by Lois’ husband and Heidi’s father, Marvin Mast, who owns Golden Rule Property Management. The commercial building just a few blocks from downtown was between tenants and had been empty for several months.

Since Jan. 3 it has been known as the Coffee Corner — a place to warm up and talk to someone friendly.

“Heidi mentioned it to me first,” Lois Mast said. “I kept bringing it up, but really, the Lord gave us the idea!”

From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Saturday, there’s coffee, hot chocolate and water available, along with conversation with volunteers from the family’s church, as well as the nearby Cedar Crest Amish Mennonite Church.

Some days pastries or donated coats might get dropped off, but there’s an emphasis on keeping things simple and basic.

“Monday morning [Jan. 21] we went through 13 pots of coffee by 9:30,” Marvin Mast said. “Typically there might be 15 guests at a time, but it slows down after 10 a.m. . . .

“We’ve had good response from community people who interact with people who have specific needs as relating to jobs and housing and just providing friendship.”

God can do amazing things with a cup of coffee and a willing ear.

“Just this morning I had a very encouraging talk with a young man, a veteran who somehow I just felt led to the moment I stepped in the door,” Lois Mast said Jan. 23. “. . . He was very appreciative of the Scripture he saw on the wall. We ended up having a prayer together.”

Martin Mast recalled a group of three men who came in regularly while looking for jobs. They found out about a landscaping company in Colorado, and volunteers helped them fill out applications.

“We scanned and emailed them from our home this morning,” he said. “The company responded, and they were able to use one of our volunteers’ phone this morning for the interviews.

“So it’s more than just warmth and coffee.”

Tim Huber

Tim Huber is associate editor at Anabaptist World. He worked at Mennonite World Review since 2011. A graduate of Tabor College, Read More

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