by Lisa Tome
A 24-year-old woman, who is five months pregnant, settled into her cot at Janes United Methodist Church last week.
Nearby, her three-year-old daughter cuddled a doll.
"It's hard but I manage to get things done. I'm here because I let the wrong people in my house. And now I'm starting at rock bottom," said the woman.
For that woman and her daughter, both of whom are homeless, rock bottom is Cecil County's rotating shelter. For several months of the year, area churches host the homeless, a week at a time.
"This is the first time in a long time we've had kids," said Amy Meeks.
Meeks coordinated the rotating shelter on behalf of Janes UMC for the second year. In addition to the three-year-old, a four-year-old was also housed there.
"We had 25 last night, that's the most we've had in a while. We can take 30 and that packs us," said Meeks. "I enjoy it though. The first night was hectic."
The community comes together to host the shelter. Other churches, a Bible study group, youth, 4-H and others pitch in, providing food and entertainment.
Lynn Munzert and seven members of her family, composed of three generations, took a night. They prepared a huge Italian meal and all the accompaniments. "It's part of God's plan to help everyone," said Munzert, who joined the church with her family in 1988.
Tyler Keenan, 14, is Munzert's grandson. He said he likes helping others. I know that I'm helping others who need it," said Keenan. Alexa Keenan, 9, agreed with her brother. "My friends are home watching movies or TV. I'm helping people who need help," she said.
"I'm very blessed. My family is amazing. And because of all those blessings, I give back," Munzert said.
Kathy Morton is a retired teacher who was working at the shelter as a volunteer greeter. She said her job was to make those being sheltered feel welcome. She admits that it can be challenging if those who are homeless are people she taught. That happened to her last year.
"Two (homeless) people last year were former students. One hugged me and we talked. She was very open and talked about it. (Before they arrived) I looked at the list and was surprised to see her name. I was on pins and needles," said Morton.
Those who were guests at Janes last week said there are as many reasons one is homeless as there are people being sheltered.
A 52-year-old man explained why he was staying at Janes. "My disability got cut off. That's why I'm here. I was on disability for five years and they cut it off," he said. The people are nice here and the food is great.
A 39-year-old man said he's been homeless for two months. "I lost my job. My money ran out. I work construction. I'm getting work in March," he said.
A 61-year-old man was in the shelter along with his 41-year-old wife. "We're here due to medical expenses. We lost everything," he said.
A 45-year-old man said he came to Cecil from Baltimore for the shelter. "They try to help you here. But a lot of people don't want help. I drink, but I don't have a problem. I'm homeless but these people are helping me. If I was anywhere else, I wouldn't have this help," he said.