• Church@thePark

COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER - September 8

10 THINGS WORTH HIGHLIGHTING THIS WEEK . . .


1.

VILLAGE OF HOPE OPEN HOUSE IS THIS SUNDAY

20 of the 40 micro-shelters should be on site for the open house celebration.


The open house will be on Sunday, September 11th from 1:00PM to 3:00PM and again from 5:00PM to 7:00PM.


The grand opening is a time for neighbors, supporters, and other interested parties to come and see the new site and to hear from staff about how the site will operate.


Bridgeway’s Rolling Cafe food truck will be on site from 5 to 7 for anyone who is interested.

 

2.

WE LOVE HEARING FROM OUR COMMUNITY


In preparation for the upcoming relocation of Village of Hope, C@P staff met with some neighbors near the new site last week to invite them to the open house. We had some great interactions. There are plenty of people who have genuine concerns and reservations and we appreciate the opportunity to interact with people about those concerns.


We received this encouraging email from one of the neighbors near the new Center St micro-shelter site:


”Please recognize that Church @ the Park is doing an excellent job of providing opportunities for unsheltered people to graduate back into productive lives. C@P establishes security and manages the village so that rules are not seen as punitive but as necessary, helping the residents to live together peacefully and responsibly.”


If you or someone you know would like to share a comment, or a concern, or to connect with a member of our team for a conversation, please reach out to us. We love having conversations with community members. You can also reach out to us if you have a group that might be interested in having C@P lead a presentation or discussion for your group. Use the button below to send us an email.

 

3.

NEW CITY TEAM TRIED A DIFFERENT RESPONSE TO ENCAMPMENTS


From the article: The newly created Salem Outreach and Livability Services, also known as the SOS team, pairs police officers with Public Works employees to quickly respond to illegal encampments in parks and public rights-of-way.

"These are not the sweeps that people have thought of in the past," city spokesman John Winn said. "What we are really trying to do is make sure it's a safer, more hygienic place for people, whether that's the folks down there, whether it's park visitors."

 

4.

HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS


For this week’s Humanity of Homelessness story we wanted to highlight a story from Bloomberg News about a business that is honoring and elevating the humanity of people who are unsheltered, struggling with addiction, or convicted felons by providing them with employment and other services.


Hot Chicken Takeover is a restaurant chain in Ohio and New York.

From the article:


The unemployment rate among those who’ve previously been incarcerated is almost five times higher than that of the general US population…College applicants with felony charges are almost two and a half times more likely to be denied admission…The lack of career and educational opportunities often leads a life of poverty and recidivism.


Hot Chicken Takeover’s mission is to address the problem by hiring people who might be passed over elsewhere, whether because of prior incarceration, drug addiction, or homelessness. Almost 40% of its 172 workers have come out of the justice system. The launch of Hot Chicken Takeover came on the heels of a handful of failed attempts at entrepreneurship for Joe DeLoss. He was inspired to open a restaurant by a 2013 trip with his wife to Nashville, a city famed for its “hot chicken”—fried chicken covered in spicy red sauce.


They started serving friends and family fried chicken in their home and then began a weekend pop-up shop in Columbus that quickly attracted crowds. An online campaign helped raise funds to open the flagship restaurant in 2014. In May, for its seventh location, the company made the jump to New York City with a booth at an upscale food hall in Queens. Three additional locations are on their way in Ohio.

Critical to Hot Chicken Takeover’s model is the support it offers employees, who can face overlapping challenges. The chain helps with referrals to mental health counseling and housing services, emergency cash assistance, and a savings-matching program. DeLoss, who grew up in a family devoted to community service, felt he could better address the root causes of crime, homelessness, and addiction by being an employer rather than a volunteer. “I just felt a lot more compelled by the impact economic opportunity and mobility could provide along somebody’s journey in life,” he says.

 

5.

MYTHS

This one might not actually be a myth. People do get bus tickets from communities, agencies, churches, and individuals. If someone came to us at C@P to ask for a bus ticket to another community where they could be closer to family, or for a job opportunity, we would likely work with that individual to help them get where they wanted to go. This happens all the time, everywhere. There are plenty of ways for this to be abused, by the ones receiving the tickets and the ones giving the tickets.


The buttons below link to articles from news agencies that investigate this myth. There are positive stories, like a police officer in Seattle who uses his own money to buy bus and plane tickets to help people. And there are not-so-positive stories, like one agency that would give people tickets only if people agreed to never return to that community.


Based on the way that this idea gets communicated and shared, it might be more accurately labeled as a conspiracy theory. What we often hear is that Salem’s unhoused population is high because there are communities out there—Portland is the one most often referenced—that are bussing large numbers of people to Salem just to get rid of them. This idea is heard throughout the nation. Spokane is bussing people to Seattle. San Francisco is bussing people to Sacramento. Again, there is an element of truth to this idea. People do get bus tickets to go from Portland to Salem (and vice versa). Some communities have bussing programs. But none of the research supports the idea that people are being sent to one particular community, or that it is one-way. The communities and agencies that are providing the tickets work with people to identify places where they have family, friends, housing, or employment opportunities.


Conspiracy theories often obscure the truth. And they distract us from working to address real root causes. Affirming or amplifying this conspiracy theory might make us feel better about our community, that our unsheltered crisis is due to neighboring communities (and therefore not our responsibility).


In this case, we know that the majority of people who are unsheltered in Salem were housed in the area before they became unsheltered (see our previous newsletter). And we know there are things we can do to reduce the number of unsheltered people in our community. In the past year, by providing safe, stable, and supportive sheltering, C@P has helped 195 unsheltered people make the move into more positive destinations. Others are being helped by places like Arches, UGM, Simonka House, and other agencies in Salem. When private citizens, faith communities, non-profits, governments, and businesses work together, we can help Salem to become a safe, healthy, thriving, livable community for everybody.

 

6.

STAFF HIGHLIGHT : Desiree


Did you know that C@P has a staff counselor?


The work that our staff does is hard, stressful, and can be traumatizing. Desiree is a trained counselor available to meet with our staff to provide a support and a listening ear for a wide variety of reasons.

Here is what John, one of our pastors had to say about Desiree:


”The work we do is hard. Really hard. Every member of our community—staff and guest—confronts a daily dose of trauma. But it is no hyperbole that Church at the Park is able to withstand the pain we encounter because of Desiree and her gift of compassion. In her role, she permits safe space to hold the good and beautiful alongside the painful and ugly. She provides practical pathways toward remembering the truth that we are already good, already beloved, and already capable.”


”Desiree's way of being in the world is a balm to what currently ails our world, and Church at the Park is more and more the community we wish to be because of Desiree's healing presence.”


We are so grateful to have Desiree on our team to provide compassionate care to our staff!

 

7.

HUMANITY OF HOMELESSNESS Storytelling Event

We are excited to invite the community to our next Storytelling event. The event will feature stories from people with lived experience of homelessness, time for Q&A, and an opportunity for people to engage with C@P staff and other community members. Our first Storytelling event, held in June at Willamette University, was an enriching experience for the community. Use the button below to RSVP for the next event. The event is free. Light appetizers and drinks will be provided.

Thursday, September 29 7:00-9:00PM IKE Box - 299 Cottage St NE RSVP Required

 

8.

CHRISTMAS OUTREACH

CHURCH PARTNER AND VOLUNTEER INPUT NEEDED


Thank you for your partnership with C@P and our Room in the Inn Christmas project over the past 12 years! The needs are large this year, as are the possibilities for transformation. We invite you to help us create a December full of hope with our neighbors, both newly sheltered and still unhoused...to be seen, loved and celebrated in a new way!

There are three ways to share your ideas and feedback about our upcoming Christmas outreach:

  1. Fill out the survey by Tuesday, October 4th. Fill out the survey: SURVEY

  2. Join a Zoom meeting with other Faith Leaders at 4pm on Tuesday, October 4th. ZOOM LINK

  3. Come to an in person meeting with snacks at 2640 Portland Rd NE (Old DMV) at 6pm on Tuesday October 4th.

Your partnership is essential to creating greater belonging and a beloved community.

 

9.

INVITATIONS

  • LOOKING FOR GROUPS INTERESTED IN DONATION SORTING. We are looking for groups to sort through donations at our CCS site. Contact us if you're interested!

  • UNDERWEAR NEEDED. We have a need for all types of men’s and women’s underwear. If you need some ideas for what types of underwear, there is a link to our Amazon shopping list below. You can either buy the underwear there, or take a look and buy them elsewhere. Clothing donations can be dropped off at our CCS site.

  • TOUR ONE OF OUR MICRO-SHELTER SITES. One of the best ways to see and learn about the work being done at C@P is by joining us on a tour of our CCS Micro-Shelter Site. If you know someone who has questions or concerns about what we are doing, invite them to join you on a tour. You’ll get to converse with one of our leaders, talk with some of our on site staff, and see firsthand what life at one of our sites is like. Tours are offered every Thursday at 1:30PM.

  • 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 Wednesday, September 28th 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 us an email.

 

10.

LECTIONARY READING


This week’s reading is from Luke 15, the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, which Jesus shared in response to criticisms that he was “welcoming sinners and eating with them.”


The metaphor of the table plays a significant part in how we think about C@P’s work and role. Here is what one author had to say about the idea of Jesus welcoming sinners to his table: “For Jesus this fellowship at table with those whom the devout had written off was not merely the expression of liberal tolerance and humanitarian sentiment. It was the expression of his mission and message: peace and reconciliation for all, without exception, even for moral failures.”


When was the last time you felt grateful to be invited to share a meal with others? When was the last time you had a meal with someone who was genuinely different than you—politically, culturally, relationally, emotionally, etc?


 

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