Local Organization Collaborates with Others to Help the Homeless
Danielle Battson and her husband Jeff, founders of Whitestone Ministries, had plans to start a Christian ministry, and they say the Lord called on them to adjust their plans.
“We began to feel God shifting things in a new direction,” Danielle says. “The more we prayed, the more he showed us what steps to take, and it all led to serving the homeless population.”
It can be a challenge to start a new endeavor under the best of circumstances, and launching a new ministry in the midst of a global pandemic is especially tough. Nevertheless, that is precisely what Danielle and Jeff felt called to do last summer when they started Whitestone Ministries, located in Hendricks County.
“We are a Christian ministry so everything we do, we pray about first,” Danielle says. “We pray for God to lead us to organizations that will be good for the ministry that he is putting together.”
Instead of starting separate initiatives on their own, the ministry partners with other organizations like Wheeler Mission Shelter for Men, A Tiny Act of Kindness, and Roberts Park United Methodist Church, to help them. Most of the organizations they collaborate with serve the homeless and low-income households. Whitestone Ministries helps to create and distribute various hygiene and/or dental kits and care packages to homeless camps, and others in need. Now that winter has hit, kits include hats, gloves, socks, scarves, blankets and pillows. They also bring what they call a mobile closet, which includes clothes, shoes and socks.
“We have a group of church women who are making mats for the homeless,” Danielle adds.
When the Battsons started Whitestone Ministries, they didn’t know how quickly their message would spread, but they’ve been pleased with the reception they have received.
“The way it’s growing so fast makes it clear that many people are desperate to spread love,” Danielle says. “People are hungry for this type of thing. They just need direction.”
The organization’s “Prayers for the City” journal began when a member of their prayer committee set up a table in a parking lot where they were distributing clothes and food. Danielle recalls a grandmother who approached the table.
“She told me about her grandkids she’s raising because their mother was murdered and their father overdosed,” Danielle says. “She also mentioned that she was concerned about Christmas and how she was going to be able to make that special.”
The committee member jotted down everything the grandmother said in a journal. After others saw what was happening, they came over and did the same. Danielle was blown away by the number of people who were eager to share their stories.
“We had no idea so many people would open up,” Danielle says. “It was so touching.”
Many shared how they feel invisible when passersby avoid eye contact with them and keep walking.
During the week, members of the Whitestone Ministries committee meet to share what has worked and what they could do better, and also attend to prayers from the journal.
“The most important part of our ministry is to make sure people know that they are known, they are seen and they are loved,” Danielle says.
When Danielle and Jeff started the ministry last June, all of their energy was focused on showing the homeless population that they are people too. As Jeff and Danielle watched racial protests and demonstrations unfold in Indianapolis and around the world last summer, they felt driven to dive in and do their part. Folks were interested in hearing what they had to say as an interracial couple. Danielle and Jeff were open to sharing how racial tensions affect them.
“Being that voice that they were not hearing a lot of, diffused much of the anger,” Danielle says.
What she found even more healing, however, was sitting back and letting people talk.
“People needed us to listen, learn and love,” Danielle says. “It was both impactful and heartbreaking.”
Prior to starting Whitestone Ministries, Danielle worked for 10 years in Christian-based day care. She’s always had a passion for giving back to her community. In fact, she calls it her heartbeat.
“To be able to do that every day is a dream for us,” she says. “We’re humbled to regularly work with all these selfless people.”
Though they are still a relatively new ministry, Danielle is already feeling inspired to help veterans.
“We’re so excited about that and are currently lining up organizations to help us with that,” says Danielle, who has a background in mentoring women at the So Big Mountain House in Whitestown, which is a small, Christian-based shelter for pregnant women. She first went there to pray over their land and house, and the women there began talking to Danielle and were drawn to her loving spirit.
“Now I pray over them and God gives me the words to speak to them,” Danielle says. “The women say it gives them hope and joy, and empowers them to envision life outside of that environment.”
Danielle is happy to shower anyone with love, whether they receive it or not.
“You meet with different personalities, but it’s so satisfying to be that face of Christ for the city,” she says.
Some days can be difficult, especially when seeing firsthand how pervasive homelessness is.
“We want to cure homelessness but we can’t,” Danielle says. “We can, however, put a dent in it.”
She’s also proud to be involved in a ministry that endured when the going got tough.
“We heard from several different people that said when the pandemic hit, all of the ministries left,” Danielle says. “That’s crushing, but we’re trying our best to earn their trust and let them know that we are here for the long haul.”
For more information about Whitestone Ministries, call 317-410-1929, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit them online.