Fifteen years ago, the members of University Lutheran Church (ULC) decided to make some space available within its facility for a new mission. After a year-long process of inquiry and research within the congregation and in the community, a task force concluded that this space would best be used for homeless women.
A board was elected to pursue this vision, establish a separate 501(c)3 organization, raise funds for the new organization, and determine when and how to commence operation. Over the course of the next 4 years, the groundwork was laid and funds were raised to open a transitional home for Elizabeth Gregory Home (EGH). A year later (2007), a day center was opened. In 2009, EGH approached the brink of closure due to the lack of funds. However, with some desperate measures by the Board and some extra gifts from the members of ULC, EGH survived this crisis, and has grown into the viable and important organization that it is today.
I have been privileged to be a significant part of this journey, both as the pastor of ULC and as a board member of EGH for the past 15 years. Although having been credited with being the “founder” of EGH, this fabulous organization would not have happened had it not been for the vision and support of the members of ULC and of the broader community, as well as the staff and board members throughout the years. Back then, everyone knew that homelessness was on the rise and that women needed their own place to find refuge apart from the men who tended to prey on them. The path that was chosen to meet this need was pretty obvious. All that it took was the desire, the will, some tenacity, and the finances to put the vision into action. The current stability of EGH is a credit to all who have been a part of this endeavor.
As I leave the board of EGH and depart from ULC, I will cherish all of you who have been on the front lines of making Elizabeth Gregory Home what it is today, as well as all of you who have ensured the viability and sustainability of EGH with your gifts, time, and prayers. Most importantly, I will hold in my memory all of the women who have entered the doors of EGH and found a place to call “home,” whether for a moment, a week, a month, or a year. To leave this place knowing that the women of EGH will continue to have this home as their refuge is a dream come true and a source of hope for all of the women who are yet to pass through the doors of EGH.