CHESAPEAKE, Va. — From the extreme heat of the summer to the bitter cold of the winter, the elements can be brutal for people with no place to stay. But the Chesapeake Area Shelter Team, or CAST, is doing something to help those in the city. CAST is one of the programs of the nonprofit ABBA List, which offers resources and support that benefit people in need.
That's where Penny Ash said she found her calling six years ago.
"It's churches in Chesapeake that have partnered with CAST to shelter the homeless from November until the first part of April," said Ash. "I went to a meeting at Great Bridge Baptist Church and met with the CAST coordinator at that church, and I was hooked... I just loved the people. I loved the ministry, and I've been in it ever since."
Since then, she became the volunteer coordinator for CAST. Ash said the desire to serve came from a place that hits home.
"When I was young, my mom, every time she would give stuff away, donate stuff, it was always to the Union Mission," she said. "And then, I learned a little bit later in life that she had been homeless herself."
So for Ash, it's about more than just providing a warm bed or a hot meal, but offering friendship, peace, and even hope.
"The guests, they felt like they were loved," said Ash. "And that's what it's all about. It's just making them feel... better. Just feel better."
Churches in Chesapeake that partner with CAST open their doors for one week during the season to provide shelter for the homeless throughout the city.
If your church is interested in partnering or you would like to learn more about the organization, visit http://abbalist.org/. You can also visit the program's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chesapeakeareashelterteam/