The Warehouse Ministries with Emmy Langley Jeffreys
Jan 27, 2019 11:00AM
By Emily Miranda
Story by Emily Miranda
THE WAREHOUSE MINISTRIES began when a man went to bring water to the homeless living along the St. Johns River. On his arrival, he quickly saw that the area contained an entire homeless community. He and his family started to bring meals to help the community, but in 2009, those living along the river were evicted. A local church stepped in, renting a warehouse to serve the homeless that had been evicted, hence The Warehouse Ministries.
The facility has relocated since then, but it is still running strong under the care of Administrative Director Emmy Langley Jeffreys, whose own life holds a past similar to those she serves.
“In 2006, I was in and out of jail, an alcoholic, addicted to meth and homeless,” she shares. “My brother was involved with The Warehouse. Since I was homeless, I would go there to get help and attend the church service there in order to visit my kids.
“I’d left my brother in charge of my kids, for fear of losing them to the foster care system, but when my brother started using I knew I needed to make a change or my kids would be gone forever,” she recalls.
Change did not happen right away. Jeffreys was arrested, served 60 days jail time for past charges and appeared in court to face her current charges, all the while not knowing where her children were. Jeffreys was sentenced to drug court. “The judge said if I failed to show, I would be sentenced to four years in prison,” she adds.
Upon her release, Jeffreys knew only two phone numbers – her drug dealer’s and The Warehouse number. She dialed her drug dealer. “He was out of town, so I called The Warehouse and someone came to pick me up,” she says.
“I discovered my kids were staying in an apartment with my brother,” she says, but when she arrived, it was less of an apartment and more of a drug house. The next morning, she took her children and left.
With nowhere else to go, she walked to The Warehouse.
After considering her circumstances, The Warehouse made an exception to shelter Jeffreys and her children. She soon became a volunteer there, and was eventually hired as part of The Warehouse staff.
“I had a passion for the homeless and could easily relate to them since I had a similar past. My story shows them that there is hope,” Jeffreys says.
After a few years, The Warehouse administrative director resigned, recommending Jeffreys to take her place. Beyond that, Jefferey’s became a homeowner, got married and received the Housing Hero’s award from Tulare and Kings County Homeless Alliance. She is currently attending school to get her Bachelors Degree in Social Work.
“The biggest struggle in working with the homeless is the misconception people have on homelessness,” Jeffreys shares, adding that sometimes people forget they are human beings. “I have homeless calling me at midnight, on holidays, even at 5 am asking me for blankets, shoes or help to move their stuff before they get evicted,” she says. “If you have problems with the homeless hanging out near your residence or business, try building relationships with them. Give them a meal, find out their story.”
One homeless man used to sleep on the porch of The Warehouse office, and it was clear that he needed significant help. Jeffreys was able to get the man housing and take him to a doctor’s appointment, where they discovered some underlying health problems. With help, he was approved for SSI, and is looking to be placed in a skilled nursing facility.
“I recently took him out to eat,” Jeffreys says. He prayed, “I don’t know, God, I guess thank you. Thanks for the food and thank you for Emmy ‘cause she is the only one that cares about me. Amen.”
“That moment impacted me greatly,” says Jeffreys, knowing from her own experiences how impactful love and kindness can be. •
The Warehouse Ministry • 319 W. Murray Ave., Visalia
559-733-3311 • www.thewarehousevisalia.org