S we recognize the need for affordable housing, and the difference housing can make in the life of someone who has been on the street. Over the years things have improved here in Victoria, and every week we see those who used to be in and out of shelters, doorways, or living in the park. Now many of them have found basic housing, and the difference is often quite amazing.Our friends at Citizens for Public Justice have created an infographic to illustrate the need for housing in Canada.This illustrates the need for 'justice' as well as 'mercy' in working with people trapped in poverty. Our country needs a few prophets who will speak in the halls of power on behalf of those in need, as well as those who will
dig deep into their own pockets and endeavor to provide more of the necessities of life for them.
Although every Sunday's walk-about is special, some days are REALLY special! Christmas is one of those times that we try to make a very special time for everyone--including the volunteers. This year our Christmas outing was on the 23rd, and we had at least 37 volunteers out. With that many helpers, we had to have a lot more goodies to give out, and our volunteers came through with great generosity.
Our carts were decked out with battery operated Christmas lights, and our volunteers were decked out with an assortment of festive headgear.It was a special time!More pictures can be found on our photos page.
(Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Story is told by 'Laverne')
Laverne meets a gal at CARTS on Sunday who has just been housed & has nothing but an air mattress & a TV. Laverne agrees to meet her at View Towers on Thursday morning at 10:00 with whatever she can scrounge by then.
Shirley hears about this & says "You can't go to View Towers by yourself. I think I should go with you!" We agree to meet to Home Sense on Cloverdale & drive down together (what a great friend!!)
Shirley had just taken a load to the Thrift Store last week & is feeling badly that she has nothing to bring. But lo & behold, driving to meet Laverne she spots a FREE sofa by the side of the road. (Today she is driving Joe's truck because the car is in for service....she never has Joe's truck!) So she says"Thank you Lord. I now have something to bring!!" & proceeds to load this huge sucker by herself. No angels appeared for this scene!
Shirley pulls into the parking lot on Cloverdale & parks right in front of Laverne's vehicle.! It took a minute to notice she had "a load"!!! We moved everything from Laverne's vehicle into the truck & off we went. There was a parking spot almost at the front door of View Towers (THANK YOU!). It took 3 of us to get it off the truck (couch roped in with a long extension cord across the back!!). Actually, I take back the "no angels appeared for scene 1"..... I have no idea how Shirley loaded that by herself!! Anyway, we're now minus one couch foot, but it's off the truck & on the road. A passerby noted that we should ask for a dollie, so off Shirley & Jane go to the office & I get the couch moved onto the sidewalk & stand guard. 3 gentlemen (???) who had been standing by the entrance smoking suddenly disappeared....never to reappear during this drama!!! (obviously NOT angels!)
Moving the honking huge couch
We tried to get the couch onto the dollie but this was NOT working! POOF....appears angel # 1 (a white-haired man!) who tried to help us get it on, but before we knew it he was on his back on the sidewalk....we tried to encourage him to quit, but he was not wanting to give up so easily, and we all decided to just carry the dang thing... & the 4 of us staggered it to the front doors. I might add that Griffin's Plumbing truck was parked right at the front door (not on the road.... at the very entrance!) & water was flowing out of a pipe in the wall & covered the whole area we staggered through! We plopped it down & angel # 1 vanished!
But the door is TOO small
Then we look at the situation & see that the door is way too small for this honking huge couch. (more drama with the office here that I won't get into, but the end result is we have to get it through this single door or not at all !) Enter angel # 2. A cocky young man! We had already figured out that we would have to stand it on end if we had any chance at all, which we did with much grunting & groaning! Next thing we knew he had grabbed it, shoving & zigzagging, & suddenly it popped through the door with only minor damage! All this with other people who were moving into/out of the building lined up to use the door!!!! WOW.....except suddenly we had the realization that we still had the elevator, which had no bigger opening! Angel # 2 vanishes!!!
"If the couch is dragged on this dirty floor I'm not sitting on it"
(because of course the couch was upside down by now). The recipient was emphatic that if the couch was dragged on the filthy floor she couldn't use it. We didn't actually discuss it, but somehow that possibility could not be an option, & we just carried on!!!
The small elevator door looked like the end of our struggle. But we couldn't even IMAGINE getting the couch back out & back onto the truck! Now it was just Laverne & Shirley...with just a comment from a passer-by that things didn't look good!! Angel # 3 was not visible to the naked eye, but by some miracle Laverne & Shirley alone sliced this rig into the elevator! Such exhilaration!!! Up 16 floors........we repeated the groaning effort & it popped out.
The hallway would easily fit an ironing board...
but how do people move furniture into this place????!!! By this time we were exhausted, so with the two of us on one end we just pushed the couch, a couple feet at a time, down the long hall.
The apartment door was even smaller yet. It truly seemed the end of the line, but leaving the couch in the hallway was not an option as it was as wide as the whole hall!! With some resignation, we decided to at least give it a try. One of us pushing, one pulling & one pushing the cushion part as hard as possible....we moved an inch into the doorway & got stuck. By now Shirley is praying out loud, "God, this was YOUR idea, so You have got to help us get this in!!!!" And we moved another inch.....and so on....and so on!!! You couldn't have fit a piece of paper between the couch & the wall. One last push & it popped into the room! It was UNBELIEVABLE!!!! All we could do was laugh at the improbability of having moved this thing. We got it in with only one ridge sort of shredded, but it all looked pretty good & Jane seemed very thrilled (no more talk about not sitting on it!!). We forgot to check the condition of the walls!!!!!
The rest of the stuff seemed quite insignificant after this effort &, except for a crowded elevator ride with stuff & people, that made many stops on the way up, (the claustrophobia angel got Shirley to the 16th floor!) the rest of the move was less eventful !!!
We received this email from Natalie:
I just wanted to share a quick story... I have been interested in volunteering for CARTS since I first saw the group a couple years ago but full-time school and work and the need for public transit always got in the way. I was very sad to hear when CARTS shut down and unaware until yesterday that it was back up and running. I had just gone for Chinese food in China town and saw the CARTS people walking by and ran after them to get some contact information. When I got home I didn't go through my bag until just now. When I pulled out the CARTS brochure,my fortune cookie fortune paper was in the middle of it and it fell to the floor. It says " Your random act of kindness will spread quickly to others." I had already read this and thought nothing of it and placed in my bag and later, the CARTS brochure. As someone who had kind of lost their faith, I found this to be an absolute sign from God who knows exactly how to tell me things in ways I will believe! Thank you CARTS for doing great things and spreading the word of God! I hope to volunteer with you all soon!
Thanks, Natalie! We look forward to meeting you.
Mike, one of our regulars gave us the following recipe for a happy year. Thanks Mike!!
Take twelve fine, full-grown months. Select only those which are thoroughly free from all old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy. Clean them completely free from every clinging spite. Pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness. In short see that each of these months is freed from all the past so that they are as fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of time.
Next, cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. They will keep for only one year, so do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time. Far too many people spoil the entire lot in this way. Rather, prepare but one day at a time.
Into each day put twelve parts of faith, eleven of patience, ten of courage, nine of work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), eight of hope, seven of fidelity, six of liberality, five of kindness, four of rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad - don't do it), three of prayer, two of meditation and one part only of well-selected resolution. For spice and sweetening, according to our scruples, add about a teaspoon of good spirits, and a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play and a heaping cup of good humor.
Pour love, ad libitium, into the whole and mix with vim and vigor. Cook thoroughly in a fervent heart. Garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy. then be sure to serve with quietness, unselfishness and cheerfulness - and a Happy Year is a certainty.
Remember - with a smile and a prayer - twelve new and wonderfully glorious months have been issued in your name to do with as you wish. Father Time has signed your note, so that you have been issued a "credit card" for the entire year!
If you make a mistake, be sure you don't make the same one over again. Laugh at difficulties, and they will soon vanish. Attempt heavier responsibilities, and you will find them growing lighter. Face a bad situation and it will clear up. Tell the truth and find an easier way out. Do an honest-to-goodness day's work every day and reap the rewards. Believe men are honest,and you will find them living up to your expectations. Trust in God each day and He will surprise you with His goodness.
Back on December 11th Al, Charon and Ron had the opportunity to visit Victoria Full Gospel Fellowship and share about CARTS. It was a great to share a bit about our journeys...and to give folks a glimpse of what a Sunday afternoon looks like on Victoria's inner city streets, with our precious friends...in the midst of this beautiful community we call " CARTS."
You can listen to our time with VFGF...HERE
. Just scroll down to recent sermons, December 11th, CARTS Outreach Ministry. If you think your faith community might be interested in hearings about CARTS, and Victoria's inner city please contact us...we'd love to come and visit.
For more than a decade the Rainbow Kitchen has served up hot lunches to those in need. It had a rent free home in St.Saviour's Church, but the building has since been sold to a private investor. One of nine buildings the Anglican Diocese liquidated after falling enrolment and debt troubles.
The non-profit group now finds itself searching for a comparable space, so it can continue serving roughly one-hundred and twenty-five patrons a day. Most who use the kitchens services are homeless or on social assistance. And while donations are accepted they are not necessary, making it a free meal for many.
We all recognize the familiar face in the video the guy ( Al Lindskoog ) who sort of steers CARTS, and who is involved in so many ways with our marginalized friends in the inner city. Al shares about the Rainbow kitchen, and also in the mix of the video are ordinary people who are impacted by this ministry. Lets, all pray for those involved in the Rainbow Kitchen Community for a smooth transition to a new location.
"If we want to develop meaningful connection with people we must be willing to go where they are
. This is something deeper than the practicality of good marketing. While in our building during our programs we have authority and power to set the terms of engagement- in other words, the ‘rules’. It would not be honest to pretend otherwise
. Whether we acknowledge it or not we have power in that situation and that power shapes our relationship with the people who come. It is vital that we are willing to reciprocate- to make regular contact with our street community on their ‘turf’ or home, in the places where they have the power, authority and credibility. We become the ‘guests’ in their care and acknowledge their elevated status in that context. Like the Jesus we seek to follow, we must be willing to recognize that whatever power we have been given is not ours to cling to. We must seek to find ways to give that power away
"One way we seek to consciously practice this is to make regular time to be on the street, in the neighbourhood, connecting with our friends and deepening our relationships with them."
The above is from the folks at Parkdale Neighborhood Church in Toronto's west end. The needs of the neighbourhood were daunting; increasing poverty, substance abuse, crime, the proximity of the then “Queen Street Mental Health Centre” (now CAMH) and issues related to mental health, political abandonment and social neglect, the waves of refugees and immigrants who either felt trapped or viewed the neighbourhood as a temporary stop before moving on to a better community. It's easy in a neighborhood like this to assume a role of " power "...we have all the answers, come to us and let us " fix" Put to move into the neighborhood and through anything that looks like power away, to be willing to listen, to learn...to become a neighbor in the context of the neighborhood...is humbly profound. It's in this profound mysterious sacrifice where life is found...we really discover the abundant life Jesus spoke, and lived out.You can't learn this in a forty-five minute sermon...it is found by following Jesus into these broken spaces that are all around us. Every week, every Sunday with CARTS...and through out the week when I bump into our neighbors in the inner city I'm reminded of this wisdom.
Last evening I had the chance to spend sometime talking to recent 2011 Victoria city council candidate, social justice and homelessness activist Rose Henry. Rose Henry knows poverty, and addiction from personal and real life experience. She has her eyes and ears close to the street...She sees and hears what's happening beyond the margins of Victoria's inner city. But Rose, is also a leader, teacher and mentor. And one of the young people she has been mentoring is Thomas Morgan from Esquimalt Secondary School. As Rose says, " Thomas is a 15year old first nations youth who aspires to be apart of building a better community for all. " That's Rose and Thomas in the above picture.
Thomas is one of the organizers of 3,500 coats.org a group focused on collecting winter jackets mainly for kids on Victoria, and Vancouver Island. We don't necessarily see a lot of kids living on the inner city streets...it would be devastating tragedy if we did. But because we don't doesn't mean that increasing poverty is not a reality and effecting kids. This recent article from the Vancouver Sun ( BC. Moving in the Wrong Direction on Child Poverty: Report
)...reveals the shocking reality that more "children " are apart of poverty.
Last year's the program " Coats for Kids " due unforeseen circumstances is unable to collect and distribute coats. So a group of concerned community members, unaffiliated with any charity or non-profit organization, are taking it upon themselves to fill this gap.
Please help us by making a donation of coats, gloves, hats, shoes, socks or any winter or watertproof gear. You can get details here as to where you can drop of clothing. 3500 COAT DRIVE
Christmas is fast approaching when Jesus was birthed into our neighbourhood to show us all what being human is all about...about taking care of the least of the least. Our future will only be as good as how well we take care of our children...not just mine, or yours...but everyone's. Let's make a difference this year for the kids living in poverty in Victoria. You can follow the 3500 COAT DRIVE Facebook Page