COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER - May 7
HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS
LuVanna is a guest at the Village of Hope site and she has been working hard towards her goals.
Lu has kept a smile on her face despite all the battles she has been facing such as being homeless, overcoming addiction, and her partner being in an accident which has led him to stay at a care facility to recover.
Lu has been and is super grateful for the opportunity to be a guest at our site. She appreciates the staff and residents around her which help keep her on track and guide her in the right direction.
Lu has finally been able to start detox, she has also started receiving SSI after years of attempting to get her benefits, she has never had a steady income before so this will dramatically improve and change her life. She will now be able to sign up for income-based housing as well as "getting some fresh kicks".
Lu continues to remain positive and work hard on getting herself and her partner on the right track as he recovers from his accident.
Say hello to John, our Pastor of Community Development.
Here is what DJ had to say about John—
John is one of those people who helps remind me what it means to be fully present and fully human. When I asked him to join our C@P shelter efforts in 2020 his 'yes' was good news for those who needed more connection and relationship at Cascades Gateway Park. John launched both our Safe Parking program and Cash for Trash efforts during the pandemic. John knew over 200 people by name who would bring trash in exchange for resources to our Turner Rd location each week. When we had the opportunity to add 40 people to our staff and open the State Fairgrounds, John provided a backbone of training and example of care for others to imitate. John has shared the humanity of our guests’ life experiences with churches, community groups, and neighborhood associations on a weekly basis. He shares others’ stories with an empathy and understanding that usually brings me to tears. John is the author and curator of our weekly liturgy meant to give voice and discussion to our theology from below. He describes it this way, “At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world.” John continues to support Safe Parking, outreach, and to be a voice in the community. In the past year John has had the challenge and honor to preside over 14 funerals. It has been John’s pastoral presence that has offered care, healing and hope to both extended family and our community. We are so thankful John has chosen to create and cultivate belonging in Salem and with C@P.
POLK COUNTY SHELTER SITE
This week, C@P began having conversations with community leaders and neighbors in Polk County regarding the plan to open a new site there. Christ’s Church, in Monmouth, has proposed an idea of hosting the shelter site on their property. The community came together this past week to talk through what that might look like and to address questions and concerns. You can watch the entirety of that (2 hour) meeting by clicking the link below (the passcode to watch the recording is: 46RD$Qiv ). Additionally, a Frequently Asked Questions flyer was shared at the event. If you want to read through it, you can access it by clicking below. Here is on example of a frequently asked question: Q: What safety measures are in place to protect guests and neighbors? A: Recent studies have shown that well managed shelter sites do not lead to an increase in crime or less safety for neighbors. C@P’s proactive approach to safety for guests and neighbors include: 24/7 staffing, a licensed security team that responds to non-emergent safety concerns on property or in the neighboring vicinity, video surveillance, and key partnerships with emergency responders. Through these measures, we have had a positive neighboring impact. Additionally, the burden on local emergency services is likely to be diminished. People who are unsheltered are often frequent users of emergency systems. Without access to medical care, they end up using 9-1-1 and hospital beds for medical needs. Once people are engaged with on-site services, such as medical and behavioral health care, there is a drastic reduction in the use of emergency services.
Ray White is a C@P board member. He is also a podcast host, a manager at Salem Health, consultant, and a world-renowned ice skater. We made that last one up, but the rest of the list is true. And he recently wrote a book about being an advocate for social change! The book is called Advocacy in Action: 9 Practical Actions for Allies in Social Justice. The image below is a synopsis of the 9 actions.
We are excited to read the book!
DONATION DROP-OFF LOCATION
All donations can be dropped off at our family micro shelter, also known as our CCS site. The address is 3749 Portland Road NE and it is on property owned by Catholic Community Services. Donations can be made 24/7.
We are currently in need of ready-to-eat food items (microwavable meals, snacks, peanut butter, etc).
We are also looking for sturdy shelving for our donation center. If you are interested in purchasing some or if you have some shelves that you think might work, please let us know.
HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS - STORYTELLING EVENT
We are eagerly anticipating our next Humanity of Homelessness storytelling event. The event is an opportunity for community members to hear stories from people with lived experience of homelessness.
The Humanity of Homeless project is an invitation to come, sit at the table with those experiencing homelessness and those who have overcome it, and see with fresh eyes the humanity we so easily turn away from.
CITY OF SALEM BUDGET UPDATE
Next year, the City of Salem’s projected budget will not be enough to pay for the services that the City is currently providing. Those services include police, fire, and emergency sheltering, including the sites managed by C@P. The City is considering a two part solution to continue current staffing levels and increase some services to meet the demands of the growing community: 1. Increase in the City Operations Fee. This is based on the type of use (a single-family home pays a different rate from an apartment building, for example) and is not based on property value. The City Operations Fee is charged on the monthly utility bill for each account holder in Salem. 2. An Employee-Paid Payroll Tax. Based on a percent of total wages, an employee-paid payroll tax would be paid by all employees in Salem’s private and public sectors. Below are some important meeting dates where community members can provide testimony: Budget Committee – 5/10 6pm @ Council Chambers Work Session – 5/15 6pm @ Library Council – 5/12 6pm @ Council Chambers
The City also released a “budget simulation tool” where residents can try their hand at balancing the City budget. The tool allows you to submit your proposed budget, which will be valuable feedback for the process. Click the button below to balance the budget. Under the ’Welcoming and Livable Communities’ section, you’ll see the funding for our micro-shelter sites.
WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY SURVEY
Please share your perspective in the 2023 Community Belonging Survey. This survey is conducted by Western Oregon University graduate students in partnership with the City of Salem Human Rights Commission (HRC).
This annual survey helps to identify how Salem is doing in being a diverse, welcoming, inclusive, and friendly community by assessing discrimination that you may have witnessed or experienced. Survey results are used to identify and implement ways to increase diversity, welcomeness, and inclusion in Salem. In 2022, the City of Salem added housing status as a protected class because survey results reflected that people experiencing homelessness were also experiencing significant discrimination. The survey isn’t just a rote process; it is a path for systems change!
Respondents from all walks of life are appreciated. We value your perspective! Your responses will remain anonymous. The survey will take about 5-10 minutes.
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, February 23rd 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.
The reading for this week was from chapter 14 of the Gospel of John. Jesus is speaking to his closest followers and he is sharing beautiful truths with them. But, as is often the case with his followers, they are not tracking with what he is saying. At one point Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.” One author shared this thoughtful reflection on this passage and on what it means to be satisfied: In John chapter 14 Jesus is trying desperately to tell his disciples…that if they want to see the heart of the Father they need look no further than to him, that he and the Father are one. To which Phillip replies “Lord, just show us the Father and we will be satisfied” Will you though, Phillip? Will you be satisfied? Jesus was literally standing right in front of him, in that present moment, and Phillip was too in his head to be satisfied by that. I love Phillip for this. It makes me wonder, in what ways do I assume my own satisfaction is somewhere else – in a future time, in a different situation, with different people – and how does this keep me from experiencing the gift of what happens to already be in front of me. Meaning, if I cannot find satisfaction in anything I already have then why in the world do I think I could find satisfaction in anything I don’t already have? Phillip couldn’t accept the idea that Jesus was all he spiritually needed because he thought he already knew what God was supposed to look like and how God was supposed to act and what he got instead was Jesus of Nazareth. But we’re all in that same boat, in a way. It’s like Jesus is saying “what more can I tell you? What more can I do for you? What more can I show you? Everything you need has already been given to you.” And then I’m all like: “But Lord, I don’t want you, I want a map to you and I will be satisfied” “But Lord, increase my income and I will be satisfied” “But Lord show me the Father and I will be satisfied.” But will I? Will I be satisfied? I think that avoidance of the present moment is what keeps me from satisfaction. Because how in the world can I actually experience anything I have now as being good if I live in the resentment or, even worse, the nostalgia of the past or if I live in the escapist hope or fear of the future. Like the old guys in AA meetings say, when you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you’re just pissing on the present. We’re just missing out on the sacrament of the present moment, which is exactly where God is to be found. This is why the I AM statements in John’s Gospel are so amazing. Jesus said, I AM the way the truth and the life. Not I was the way, or at some point I will be the way. No. There is an I am-ness to the Lord. Which means now. I need the I Am-ness of God. The right here-ness of God. The right now-ness of God. Because it’s not like God is hiding somewhere in our preferred future- like God is waiting for all the ideal circumstances to line up for us – like she is hiding in the future when we meet our husband and then she will finally jump out of the bushes and make all our dreams come true, or when we finally have a baby, or the moment when everyone in our lives finally starts acting the way we think they should. You may never marry, you may never have a child, you may never find the perfect job, and for sure people will never magically act the way you think they should. But God is not to be found in eventualities. God is to be found in actual reality. THIS is the day that the Lord hath made. THIS is the body that the Lord hath made. THIS is the place that the Lord hath made. THESE are the people that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be as glad as is realistically possible in all of it. Because now, right now, is when God is saying be still and know that I AM God. Right now, as sirens wail, and coffee brews, and the dog still sleep, and my eyeliner from yesterday is smeared under my lids because I didn’t wash my face last night. Right now. Be still and know that I am God.
Thanks for reading.
What do smartphones do to us? The world of smartphones is a “shadow world of endless images; disembodied, manipulable personas; and the ever-present gaze of others. It lives in your pocket and in your mind.
This shadow world is always available to you. The price you pay for its availability is that you are always available to it, as well.”