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Christian Care offers meals, support

Steve Gottcent, community outreach coordinator at Christian Care in Rock Island, welcomes people who have come for a noon meal at the center. 

As cold weather returns, Christian Care is seeing more people coming in from the cold for a meal.

"I honestly don’t know why we area seeing an increase because we don’t ask questions of why people come to our meal site," said Steve Gottcent, community outreach coordinator at Christian Care at 2209 3rd Ave., Rock Island. "We only ask if they are hungry."

Gottcent leads a short prayer before each meal. He says the group needs help from volunteers, either as groups or individuals, in preparing and serving the meals.

"Winter can be a harsh time in the Quad-Cities for many in our community," he said. "And as the temperatures decline, many people struggle to keep warm. Christian Care is dedicated to helping the less fortunate by opening its doors as an emergency warming center when temperatures are below 15 degrees and/or wind chill is below zero."

The Christian Care Center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All services are provided free to clients. Anyone needing help can visit the center between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

People seeking relief form the cold can sit in the dining room area, watch television, read, play cards, engage in conversation or put their heads down and nap. Breakfast is served at 6:30 a.m., with lunch at 12:15 p.m., and dinner at 6:30 p.m.

"As long as they are not disruptive to our work or residents, they are allowed to remain on the premises," Gottcent said.

Christian Care doesn't track the number of people who come in to get out of the cold, he said, but it does track how many people use the center's community meal site.

From July through September this year, 13,225 meals were served. That's 19 percent more than what the center served in April through June.

Last year the site served more than 47,000 meals.

The center also has a room with men’s clothes and personal hygiene items.

Through a partnership with UnityPoint Health–Trinity Parish Nursing & Health Ministry, Christian Care offers on-site consultative and basic medical services for people experiencing homelessness and living in poverty.

"This partnership is designed to take steps to improve the quality of life and enhance the impact of health care needs for our community’s most vulnerable population," Gottcent said. "Christian Care received a gift from the Bettendorf Rotary Club with matching funds from the Trinity Foundation to help implement these services. The parish nurse program is open to residents and nonresidents from noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday during the lunch hour."

People wishing to help Christian Care financially can become a Bridge Builder, a monthly donor program designed to move people off the street and into safe, long-term, supportive living, Gottcent said. The program provides shelter, food and resources.

A monthly $10 contribution provides three meals a day for one person. A $40 monthly gift provides three meals and a night of shelter. A $280 per month gift provides seven days of food and shelter.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit is committed to ending homelessness, using Christian values to minister to those in crisis and providing the tools necessary to achieve positive change.

"It is our vision that the people we serve will become self-sufficient and productive members of society," Gottcent said.

Six of the 36 residential beds at Christian Care are exclusively reserved for veterans through funding from the Veterans Administration. "That helps us provide housing and programs for those who sacrificed in care of our country," Gottcent said.

For more details, visit christiancareqc.org.

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