Blue Coats Serving at Emmaus

Summertime: warm weather, lots of sun, plenty of time spent outside, children running through the fountain at Perry Square… it brings a different sort of energy than winter.

The same is true at the Emmaus Soup Kitchen: in the summertime, and even after school begins, the energy is high. To contain the vivacity, Erie’s “Blue Coats” Ray Humphries and Bruce Wayne (aka: “Batman”) are on site before, during, and after mealtime at the soup kitchen.

Nicknamed the “Blue Coats” by children, this group of volunteers typically work with the Erie School District to promote peace and provide positive role models for inner-city youth in Erie. Trained in non-violence techniques and conflict resolution strategies, they bring a unique presence to the East 11th Street area of Erie, where the soup kitchen is located, as they live in and patrol this neighborhood.

The Blue Coats started a few years back when seven neighbors committed to bringing about peace in their neighborhood. “We held signs pronouncing nonviolence and walked around the community with some religious sisters,” said Ray.

Since that first initiative, the Blue Coats have come together as a neighborhood organization that includes about 20 or more regular committed members. “What it means to be a Blue Coat today is this,” Ray continued, “we’re a well-oiled machine, a movement. We do security in the schools, at school sports events, and now at Emmaus. We inspire children. We connect families. I don’t look at myself as being a Blue Coat as an individual but as more of a team. We do these things together.”

Bruce Wayne added: “As Blue Coats, the work we do is not of us but of God – it’s a ministry.”

Photo: Blue Coats “Dynamic Duo” Bruce Wayne and Ray Humphries

Read this story and more on the Emmaus Ministries web page.