COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER - January 15
10 THINGS WORTH HIGHLIGHTING THIS WEEK . . .
HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS
This is Dave - 64 years-old, born in Salem. He was also raised here, graduated high school and worked in the cannery, as a landscaper and a wide array of other local jobs. Dave likes to draw and play guitar. He and his wife of five years, Cristine, moved into a van after they couldn’t afford a rent increase, and when the van was towed they became homeless—along with their dog, Destiny.
“She was my everything,” Dave says of his wife Christine, who passed away this past Christmas eve while laying on a frozen Salem sidewalk. “I don’t know what I would have done, if I didn’t have people around me,” he says when speaking about friends he’s found at Church at the Park’s Village of Hope. “There’s people that care here,” he says, reminding us how valuable community is to individual healing. And as we at Church at the Park get to walk along side Dave as people who care, we are also reminded of how valuable the individual is to community healing.
The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is an annual, nationwide event that happens in the last week of January. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asks communities to individually count their homeless populations to identify how many individuals and households are homeless in the community, and to determine some of their key characteristics.
Volunteers are needed to help with PIT Count activities. Over three days, volunteers will go In teams to designated locations throughout the Marion-Polk region to conduct face-to-face interviews with people experiencing homelessness and hand out provided supplies to those in need. The 2023 PIT Count will be conducted over three days in January. There are morning and afternoon shifts available. Tuesday, January 24 Wednesday, January 25 Saturday, January 28 Sign-up forms, other info, and a recording of volunteer training, along with other training resources, can be found at the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance website. Use the button below to go to their website.
LOOKING BACK AT 2022 : THE NUMBERS
In our last newsletter we shared some of our data/numbers about our programs. We now have the data for all of 2022 to share.
Just like we said in the previous newsletter, we are encouraged by the numbers of people served and numbers of people who are moving on to positive destinations. And that we are continually trying to learn and grow so that we can see even more people moving on to more positive destinations.
PARTNER HIGHLIGHT : SALEM HEALTH
C@P received funding from Salem Health to pilot a program that targeted unsheltered people who were frequent users of emergency services. Below is a write-up about the program. C@P’s Community Health Outreach team first met Mary (not their real name) in downtown Salem. She is in her 60’s and her most recent episode of homelessness began over a year prior to when our team met her. When C@P first connected with Mary, she explained she was having trouble accessing help for her health issues, resulting in using emergency systems nine times in the previous six months. C@P helped Mary get connected to our CCS Micro-Shelter community where she found a safe location to sleep, eat, take showers, do laundry, and work alongside a case manager to address her needs. Once on-site, C@P helped Mary sign up for health insurance and connected her with a primary care physician (PCP). She was able to receive healthcare services onsite and get the necessary medical equipment to ease her mobility challenges. Mary was also connected with a WVP Health Authority Emergency Department Intervention Team (EDIT) Mentor who helped with transportation to appointments, education about proper use of emergency systems, and case planning. During Mary’s stay at C@P, her use of emergency systems was reduced by 100%. She stayed with C@P for a total of three months and was connected with a family member who invited her to live in their home. Mary is now permanently housed with her brother and doing well! In partnership with Salem Health, C@P aimed to increase healthcare access for those like Mary who are unsheltered and who are high utilizers of emergency services. The objective of this project was to demonstrate cost savings to health systems and help streamline care for unsheltered individuals with complex housing and health needs. The goal was to support 30 individuals to establish Primary Care, sign up for health insurance, understand the appropriate level of care to seek, reduce their use of emergency systems, stabilize health conditions, and transition from places not meant for human habitation to more stable housing. C@P utilized the Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE) model to identify unsheltered individuals who were high utilizers of emergency services, then began to wrap around individualized support services to help each person achieve more health and housing stability. C@P measured the use of emergency systems for the six months prior to engagement compared to the six months after engagement in C@P case management. Of the 39 people served through the project:
9 individuals established care with a PCP
6 individuals established care with Behavioral Health services
11 individuals were signed up for OHP (the other 28 were already enrolled)
C@P also partnered with the EDIT program at WVP Health Authority to connect all 39 participants with a mentor for support and education about proper use of emergency systems. As a result of Salem Health’s investment in this project, C@P documented a decrease in the use of emergency services of the participants who engaged in the program. For the 33 individuals who completed a pre and post assessment we documented an 80% reduction in visits to the Emergency Department, a 76% reduction in ambulance rides and a 75% reduction in calls to 911. Thanks to Salem Health for partnering with us!
This is Roy.
Roy has had a few different roles in his time at C@P. He is now the Site Manager of our CCS family site, overseeing a large team of staff and over 100 guests currently residing at the site.
Here is what Josh, our Chief Operations Officer, had to say about Roy:
“Roy has been an invaluable member of our team since the beginning. His ability to care for people as individuals and in the collective has made him a huge asset for our sheltering success. Roy brings a non-anxious, humor filled presence to his site that helps build a cohesive community between guests and staff. Thanks Roy for continuing to step up to the next challenge and helping create such beautiful communities of belonging”.
JOIN OUR TEAM
We are currently hiring for a number of positions, including a Data Director, Case Mangers, and Safety Team members. Additionally, as we move towards the opening of a new Micro-Shelter site specifically for young adults, we will be hiring even more people in the upcoming season.
If you are interested in working with Church At The Park, click the button below to see the open positions.
A huge thank you to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for donating a truckload of food for our guests! The truck came from the headquarters of the church, operated by Deseret Industries, which is a nonprofit enterprise owned and operated by the church, designed to provide employment and to aid in the economic rehabilitation.
The truck was loaded with 25 pallets of food and cleaning supplies!
And a big thank you to St. Vincent De Paul for loaning us their forklift so that we could unload all of the pallets.
We love having great community partners!
Also, we are actively looking to acquire a forklift of our own. If you are interested in donating one or contributing towards the purchase of one, please let us know.
WE CARE ABOUT PET CARE
C@P provides low-barrier shelter for people. That means that we allow people to remain with their pets while they are staying with us. We make every effort to make sure that people’s pets are well cared for.
The Golden Ruleism Team has generously offered to match up to $25,000 in donations specifically for pet care. They are also connecting C@P guests and pets with local veterinarians who will provide critical care and S&N procedures.
Please consider making a donation. Every dollar donated up to $25,000 will be matched by the Golden Ruleism Team.
Project Partners: MWV Community Action Agency, MWV United Way—Safe Sleep United, Center for Hope and Safety, and local Veterinarians.The Safe Parking Network now has a Day Center to help our guests receive the help and support they need to find long term housing.
The old DMV at 2640 Portland Rd NE is now the place Safe Parkers can receive showers, mail, food, and case management support.
TAKE A TOUR: A tour of our CCS family site is a great way to see what C@P is all about. It is a chance to connect with some of our leaders and to meet some other staff, and maybe even some guests. Tours happen every Thursday at 1:30PM. Email Krystal if you or your group is interested in taking a tour.
VOLUNTEER: We are so thankful for a community of people who continue to donate food, clothing, tents, and supplies to our guests at C@P! We are currently looking for volunteers to help us sort through the generous amounts of donations we are receiving! If you’ve got some organizational skills, or just a desire to help, please click the button below.
HOST A PRESENTATION: How can we help you continue and deepen your connection with our unsheltered neighbors in partnership with Church at the Park? A presentation or discussion with DJ, John, Sterling or another member of the pastoral team? More information on volunteer options for individuals or groups to provide: meals, clothing donations or showers? More information on hosting Safe Parking? More information on Micro Shelters?
SHUTTLE TOUR FOR ALL SITES - Interested in taking a tour of all of our sites while having a conversation with DJ, C@P founder? The next available tour is on Thursday, January 25th from Noon to 2:00PM. We have a bus with comfy seats for 12. Bring your own lunch. If you or your group are interested, send Krystal an email.
UNSHELTERED DEATHS IN 2022
The State of Oregon recently released some troubling data about the numbers of deaths of unsheltered people in Oregon through November of 2022.
455 unsheltered people, 38 of them in Marion & Polk County, died in that time. You can see the data charts below for more info.
At C@P, we recently held a memorial service for 3 people who were connected to our community. Below is a prayer from that service.
God of Mercy, as we mourn the deaths of Judith, Christine, and Eric, and thank you for their lives, would you tend to our grief-stricken hearts? We pause in this moment to give space for our grief, our pain, our anger, our apathy, our anxiety; We mourn those that we have lost, and for the ways that their deaths have diminished us. You are a God who sits with the broken. You weep with those who weep. You mourn with those who mourn. You do not hide yourself from our anger. In this space, we long for hope, we long for a world where there is shelter for all, where the pathways to healing and redemption are open for all, where violence is met with a peace that passes all understanding. Even in this moment, we long to taste and see Your goodness. And so, God, we ask that You may grant us peace. That in our pain we may find presence, That in our confusion we may find comfort, That in our anger, we are open to peace, That in our sorrow, we may find hope. Gracious Spirit, change us, transform the margins. Turn barren and desolate deserts of despair into an oasis of hope. Turn impassable vast seas of sorrow into waters of life. Merciful Christ, sit with us in our grief. Hold the forgotten ones, help us remember. Have mercy on us. Amen.
This week’s lectionary reading is from the first chapter of John. John the Baptist sees Jesus from afar and proclaims, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And then Jesus asks some people who are tagging along behind him one of the most important questions: “What do you want?”
One author had this to say about that question:
“What do you want? That’s the question. It is the first, last and most fundamental question of Christian discipleship…Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behavior flow. Our wants reverberate from our heart, the epicenter of the human person. Thus Scripture counsels, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Discipleship, we might say, is a way to curate your heart to be attentive to and intentional about what you love.
So discipleship is more a matter of hungering and thirsting than of knowing and believing. Jesus’s command to follow Him is a command to align our loves and longings with His — to want what God wants, to desire what God desires, to hunger and thirst after God and crave a world where He is all in all — a vision encapsulated by the shorthand, “the kingdom of God.
Jesus is a teacher who doesn’t just form our intellect but forms our very loves. He isn’t content to simply deposit new ideas into your mind; He is after nothing less than your wants, your loves, your longings. His “teaching” doesn’t just touch the calm, cool, collected space of reflection and contemplation; He is a teacher who invades the heated passionate regions of the heart.”
Thanks for reading.
On Monday, January 16th, we celebrate and honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Did you know that King carried a copy of one his most beloved books, Jesus And The Disinherited by Howard Thurman, with him throughout the Montgomery Bus Boycott? Here is a prayer from Rev. Thurman: God of all hope, be with those who despair be with those who are exhausted be with those who cannot bear another day. God of all love, be with the caregivers be with those who work in the shadows be with family and friends who worry. God of all faith, be with the chewed up and spit out be with any who feel ashamed be with those fighting hidden battles.
Be with us when we cannot be with ourselves. Be with us when the fear feels like too much to bear. Be with us when we wonder if we are truly alone.
Amen. Here is a great article about Rev. Thurman’s influence on King.