Winter shelter, HART. Luke Otterstad, photo credit

Rotating winter shelter for homeless off to a busy start in Citrus Heights

By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Volunteers at Celtic Cross Presbyterian Church in Citrus Heights welcomed a break from days of heavy rain this week as they closed out a busy seven-day “Winter Sanctuary” event on Saturday, having offered a hot dinner and a warm place to sleep for an average of two-dozen homeless individuals each evening.

“It’s a ministry of presence,” said Jan Souza, church coordinator for the annual volunteer program. “We’re here to help, to listen and to offer spiritual support to them in any way we can.”

The Winter Sanctuary is an annual event for the Celtic Cross Church community, at 5839 Dewey Drive, which began its participation in the program three years ago. Coordinated by the nonprofit Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team, area churches take weekly turns over a two-month period to offer a rotating shelter for the homeless during the coldest and wettest months of the year.

Church volunteers received training from Citrus Heights HART staff members and worked four-hour shifts over…

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Winter Shelter, Messiah Lutheran Church

Temporary winter shelter launches again for Citrus Heights homeless

Sentinel staff report–
Local churches in partnership with the Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART) are again launching a temporary winter shelter for Citrus Heights homeless during the cold and wet winter months.

The shelter program is scheduled for Dec. 30 through at least Feb. 23, and organizers are hopeful to extend the shelter into March if a few more churches sign on as a host site. As in prior years, the shelter will rotate to a different church each week, where up to 20 homeless guests will be given a hot meal and a warm place to stay overnight.

“This is an opportunity to break the cycle [of homelessness], offer them respite from the cold, some hot meals, and a chance to connect with people who can help them and take advantage of the resources that are already available so they can work their way back into society,” said Irene Hronicek, who chairs HART’s winter sanctuary committee.

Although having an immediate goal to provide temporary shelter for those without homes in the winter, HART’s ultimate mission is to help the homeless find permanent housing…

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Friends Church, Citrus Heights

Historic church to celebrate 100 years in Citrus Heights

By Hayden LePore–
Tracing its roots back to the early 1900s, the Friends Church has been an established presence in Citrus Heights — first meeting at the old Sylvan School house on Sylvan Road, before constructing a still-standing historic church building on Old Auburn Road, and later moving to their current church building at the corner of Fair Oaks Boulevard and Woodmore Oaks Drive.

On the weekend of Sept. 29-30, the church will celebrate its 100th anniversary with several events, including a Saturday open house displaying pictures, reading stories, showing videos, and sharing about the history of the church from 1-5 p.m. on the 29th, including a re-dedication service from 2:30-3:30 p.m. with previous pastors, missionaries, and Citrus Heights Vice Mayor Jeannie Bruins, whose son attended the Little Friends Preschool, which the church started in 1974 after moving to its 7070 Woodmore Oaks Drive location.

The anniversary focus will continue through Sunday morning, where the church is planning on coffee and fellowship at 9 a.m. and a worship service at 10 a.m.

“Saturday is looking back, where we’ve been and who we are, and Sunday will be focused on where we are going and what it will be like for the next 100 years,” Pastor Tweed Moore told The Sentinel in an interview…

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Pioneer Baptist Church

Church outgrows historic Citrus Heights building; plans new campus on Auburn Blvd

Hayden Le Pore contributed to this story–
Pioneer Baptist Church currently meets inside one of the oldest buildings in Citrus Heights, a nearly 100-year-old church on Old Auburn Road. But with recent growth in the congregation, plans are in the works to construct a new 30,000-square-feet church building on a currently vacant 3-acre plot of land on Auburn Boulevard, across from Rusch Park…

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Gennadiy Mokhnenko

‘Almost Holy’ pastor, child welfare activist from Ukraine visits Citrus Heights

By Nadezhda Otterstad–
Gennadiy Mokhnenko’s unconventional and often-harrowing work in Ukraine was the focus of an R-rated 2016 Hollywood documentary-style film, “Almost Holy,” whose executive producer directed The Thin Red Line. His controversial tactics of exposing alleged government corruption and “abducting” homeless orphans living on the streets of Ukraine earned him the titles of “vigilante” and “superhero.”

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homeless man

Winter shelter for homeless underway in Citrus Heights; volunteers sought

Sentinel staff report–
Monday night began the first of a 55-night rotating shelter at area churches for homeless in Citrus Heights. Through Feb. 24, up to 20 homeless are able to grab a hot meal and warm place to stay thanks to the overnight hospitality of various congregations and numerous volunteers.

The effort is part of an eight-week “Winter Sanctuary” program coordinated by the Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), a local nonprofit made up of various public and private organizations, churches, and volunteers. The shelter program relies heavily on the involvement of area churches, with various congregations offering to host the homeless overnight for a week and additional volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and other area ministries also offering staffing help.

“We offer a hot meal, a dry place to sleep, and a to-go meal in an environment that helps [the homeless] connect to caring people and services to help them on a path out of homelessness,” said Irene Hronicek, who serves on the board of HART and is helping coordinate this year’s shelter. While at the shelter, she said homeless guests, as they are referred to by volunteers, will also be offered help from Alcoholics Anonymous, free health checkups from a mobile Elica Health Center van, domestic violence resources from A Community for Peace, and housing counseling and assistance by a homeless “navigator” from Sacramento Self-Help Housing who is funded by a grant from the City of Citrus Heights…

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