The Coral House: Live, love, burritos for the homeless

By Anna Zetterberg
Assistant Managing Editor

To view Casey Elia’s Soundslides project on the Coral House, click here.

The power of partnerships and community: These are the building blocks of a new community called the Coral House. As their Web site poignantly says, “We believe that we can accomplish together what none of us could do alone.”

A Christian group started just two years ago, members live together (they own two houses and an apartment) and serve together by caring for the homeless of Palm Beach County, providing food, shelter, clothing and advocacy.

Seven to ten people live in the community setting, making up the core of the community and spending time together in prayer and fellowship. About 20 others come to the church services or help out with the Burrito Project on Saturdays.

The community is not affiliated with a particular denomination, though many of the people involved attend Boynton Beach Community Church. Instead of a traditional pastor leading the group, all of the members participate in the ministry and take leadership in some way.

“For our ‘church’ nights, we have no ‘earthly’ leader,” said Karli Von Herbulis, an active member of the Coral House. “We pray that the Holy Spirit would come and lead His people, and He always does. It is amazing how He can speak to all of us and weave themes of His love and mercy through His people, teaching us all similar things at the same time.”

It is quite a diverse community, including singles, families and married couples. There are usually three to six Palm Beach Atlantic University students involved and “each one is significant,” said active member 24-year-old Derek Simke. “Everybody is pretty much equal. Everybody gets to help out as far as doing everything — prep, going out to the park, learning people’s names, their stories, being able to give them something to eat and doing the things the Bible plainly and simply states we should do.”

Though PBA students can make a difference by serving their local community, Simke said, “The difference is God.”

The Coral House helps the homeless of Palm Beach County survive, thrive and improve their quality of life. In the cold weather, the community donates jackets and blankets and assists in transporting the homeless to cold weather shelters.

Food donations are also a routine part of the ministry. Coral House member enjoy cooking burritos for the homeless at Bryant Park in Lake Worth every Saturday, and giving out donations from local businesses.

Not only does this outreach community provide the bare essentials, but its members go above and beyond the call of duty in hopes that their new-found friends can get off the streets for good and into houses and jobs. They assist in finding affordable house and on a case-by-case basis even provide subsidized down payment services and emergency utility bill payment services.

So why would a community of people dedicate so much time and energy into service? The answer is found in their theme verse, John 12:24-25.

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

PBA students who want to get involved with this ministry can call (561) 307-0332, or attend a service at the First Church of the Nazarene in Lake Worth at 8 a.m. any Saturday.

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