While many faces have changed, the roots of BHITC have always been the same. Humility, dignity, grace and restoration – for people, family, neighborhood, city and world. Phyliss Boggs knows this to be true more than most connected to the BHITC family. Before the organization was officially established, she was invited by a co-worker in the late 1990’s to what was then called “Food for Thought,” a time every Tuesday over lunch where people from downtown – office people and the homeless from the streets – gathered for both tangible and spiritual food.
This gathering was meant to reach the people of downtown who didn’t have a home church. This was an effort to bring “the Church” to them. Led by BHITC’s previous executive director, every Tuesday, a crowd of 15-20 people would gather at a downtown eatery to share a meal and consider the relevance of being a disciple of Jesus. Somehow, BHITC’s founding church, Trinity Lutheran Church on West 30th Street in Ohio City, scraped together enough money to provide meals for those who were unable to pay every week.
“I don’t think I ever missed a Tuesday,” says Phyliss Boggs, who worked at Ernst & Young downtown for nearly 40 years. Eventually, the group grew too large to meet in the original venue and its now 30+ people moved to a meeting room at the downtown Hampton Inn and eventually to the Clevelander Club at the top of the Huntington Building. Seems very appropriate that God would lead this diverse group to the “Clevelander Club” with its objective to meet the city’s people however and wherever they were.
By the early 2000’s, Phyliss found herself at a Building Hope 101 course taught by the organization’s current executive director, Brian Upton. “Food for Thought” had begun to dissolve by then, but God was moving in new ways to spring up an organization with leaders passionate about seeing the city and its people living out all God intended.
Volunteers, including Phyliss, began to lead “Kids’ Church” on Saturday mornings off of West 89th Street, where kids came for physical food and left also with spiritual food, just as the downtown crowd had done. Soon, Phyliss also found herself on the planning committee for this budding organization’s first-ever fundraiser.
Over the years, Phyliss has faithfully served many volunteer roles for BHITC, stating, “Whatever Brian asks me to do, I try to do.” So, what is it that has kept her saying “yes” all the years to the message of restoring the city and its people to God? “This organization (BHITC) is the most meaningful thing I know of in the city of Cleveland. It’s so, so humble. It deals with every person and their needs. It is for everyone except itself,” says Phyliss.
For Phyliss, spiritual growth was a byproduct of serving with BHITC. She explains how she used whatever talents she had to fulfill her desire to give back and serve the Lord and His people. Phyliss, a gifted administrative assistant for decades, served on many committees and boards throughout seasons of growth at BHITC, where she logged meeting minutes, organized donations and executed event logistics.
“I have loved BHITC from day one, and I always will,” she adds. Her advice to anyone considering getting involved with the organization is simple. “There are so many things you can do within the organization. Just say ‘yes!’ Just do it.”