CityReach

CityReach gives young people from any denomination the opportunity to
learn first hand about homelessness in Boston from people who have
experienced it. Participants join CityReach staff in street ministry,
offering hospitality, food and clothing, followed by times of sharing
and reflection.

CityReach

CityReach is an overnight urban outreach program begun in March 1996 for youth (with accompanying adults), young adults, and college students from churches of any denomination. The program gives these young people the opportunity to learn first hand about homelessness from people who have experienced it. During the 20 hour session, participants join CityReach staff in street ministry and offer hospitality, food and clothing. This is followed by times of sharing and reflection.

The program starts on Friday evening and ends on the following Saturday afternoon. Participants arrive at 7 p.m. Friday night, and are addressed by staff who are experiencing, or have experienced, homelessness. They walk through the city guided by members of common cathedral and end the evening with a simple worship service. Participants sleep at a local church. On Saturday morning participants offer clothing that they have collected and a simple meal to unhoused guests who come to "shop" for clothing from among the donated items. Participants form teams for street outreach, taking sandwiches and clothes to people at South Station, Copley Square, Boston's waterfront and other sites. All then eat lunch and reflect together about their experiences in light of the Gospel, write a prayer, and talk about next steps for them personally and/or as a group. Housed participants prepare to present their experiences to their home congregations.

CityReach, offered up to 9 times per academic year, is recommended for participants 14 years of age and older.  For more information please read our informational packet or email Tonika@commoncathedral.org.  If you would like to register please use our registration form

2016-2017 Calendar & Orientation Dates

  • October 28-29, 2016
  • November 18-19, 2016
  • December 9-10, 2016
  • January 6-7, 2017
  • January 27-28, 2017
  • February 10-11, 2017
  • March 24-25, 2017
  • April 28-29, 2017
  • May 12-13, 2017

Reactions from participants in the CityReach Program

I have been living in Boston for two and a half years. Every day that I walk through Kenmore Square I am confronted by homeless citizens asking for money. I have never quite known what to do. I can’t give to everyone, can I? So, I would divert my gaze, feel guilty for a while, and go on. CityReach gave me the opportunity to give of myself, and even more importantly, try to answer some questions that I had. Through listening to homeless citizens and other volunteers tell their stories and experiences, and through going onto the street to participate in outreach (actually walking up to a homeless person and say, “Hello, are you hungry?”), I didn’t find all the answers, but I did realize something important. The homeless are human, just like you and me. Some are very intelligent and down on their luck; all have a different reason for being on the street. Maybe I can’t give money to everyone I pass, but I can give a sandwich, a hello, or even just a smile. Sometimes all it takes to feel hope, to not feel so alone, to feel human again, is a smile from another person. I don’t want to forget my experience. I look forward to going to CityReach again, to helping common cathedral, and to not diverting my gaze anymore.
— Lana Collier
We’re taught at a very young age not to speak to strangers or receive gifts from them. On Saturday we did the opposite. As a group, we entered the side entrance of the Boston Public Library and went to the first and second floors. We approached people and offered them sandwiches, toiletries, and clothes. We were a little apprehensive on how to approach “them.” What if they weren’t homeless? How would they receive our gifts? What if “we” were rejected? — wasn’t that ironic? We wanted to be respectful of their dignity and space. We spent about 45 minutes in the library and encountered appreciation, a great sense of humor and grace. We left wishing we had more time to sit and listen and share time. One man said thanks for the gloves and offered to make me a cup of coffee. He was very disappointed when I replied no.” Maybe these folks really aren’t strangers. We’re all on the same journey of life. It’s just that our struggles are a little different. We all have gifts to give and receive, maybe we just need a little more practice connecting.
— Lisa Ayres