CHICAGO (CBS) — On some cold wintry nights, homeless men and women will have a warm place to go in Englewood – a small church whose pastor has had her share of heartache.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, Pastor Tracy Lee has hot chocolate with her as she heads down city streets in her sport-utility vehicle. As she hands it out, she also offers an invitation.
The homeless will get a warm place to sleep overnight at Pastor Tracey Lee’s small church in Englewood — In the Throne Room Ministries at 7326 S. Halsted St.
“Of course, we’re not a shelter, and we don’t have resources to be open every day, but I figured we can least be consistent and do one day a week,” Pastor Tracey said.
The space is open from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday. Dinner and breakfast are included.
“We call ourselves the warmest warming center in Chicago,” Pastor Tracey said, “because we’ve got good heat – number one – but also because of just the love we show to all of our guests.”
Guests, Pastor Tracey calls them – the homeless men and women sleeping under viaducts, standing on corners, and seeking shelter at police stations. If they need a ride to the church, she’s offers it.
“They are welcome to get in my car,” Pastor Tracey said. “I feel I have angels with me, so I’m not afraid.”
Pastor Tracey’s devotion to this mission is inspired by her own struggles, and a devastating tragedy in her family 13 years ago.
Her husband, a Chicago Police officer, died by suicide. Tracey Lee was 23 years old, and five months pregnant.
“One day, I was driving down 79th Street and drove past his workplace, and I literally broke down in my car,” she said, “I had to pull over because I couldn’t see from the flowing of the tears.”
That trauma led to Pastor Tracey’s own homelessness.
“So I’ve never had to live on the street, but I’ve lived in hotels and on couches and on other people’s floors, so that part of my heart says, ‘Hey, I understand what you’re going through and you’re not alone.”
No one is alone at that small church in Englewood.
“I love these people so much,” Pastor Tracey said. “I love them so much.”
Next Wednesday, Pastor Tracey Lee is hosting Christmas dinner at her church, and she is adding a toy giveaway.