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.
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
t's time for our CARTS Annual General Meeting. Because our year runs from August to July, our AGM happens in the Fall.
Our AGM will happen on Friday, November 25 at 7 PM at the St. Barnabas Church Hall. St Barnabas Anglican Church is located on the corner of Belmont Ave. and Begbie St., by Stadacona Park. It is easily accessible by bus: Take a 27 or 28 bus to the top of Begbie St., or a 2, 11 or 14 to Oak Bay Junction and walk a block north on Belmont Ave.
Our AGM will contain all of the fun stuff you look forward to at an AGM...and more. I'm sure if you've been a part of CARTS for awhile you know, and if you're new...you sense it, where the Psalmist says " where deep calls to deep. And that is " community." And the AGM is part of that , it's a time to celebrate the past year...and a time to envision the coming year. It's time for conversation, a time to bring your questions. it's a time to bring ideas...it's time to get to know one another.
SO PLEASE COME EACH AND EVERY ONE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF CARTS...like a beautiful collage each person brings their beauty to what CARTS is. SEE YOU THERE.
Occupy Victoria was handed their eviction notice today...their physical space might be gone, but lets hope they have awaked our conscience. These words are appropriate from Shane Claiborne...
"What an opportunity to create conversation! Jesus' own parable in Luke 12 is relevant to the entire effort. Why build bigger and bigger barns? Occupy Wall Street may not come up with solutions, but at least it is asking the right questions in a nonviolent setting. I don't believe that love can be forced, but I believe it can be provoked. I don't believe that generosity can be forced, but it can be provoked. Occupy Wall Street is provoking generosity."
"I'm hoping that Christians will see this as an opportunity to proclaim that God's heart is big enough for the 100 percent. It matters to God that some people are sagging with food while others need $3 for a mosquito net. It also matters to God that many of the oppressors are, in spite of their money, desperately lonely and suffering. God cares for both and can set both free. I believe we're building something new, proclaiming something else as possible. God wants to see us systemically dismantle disparity."
With each passing day the mercury on the thermometer slowing drops, the rain becomes a bit more relentless and the furious winter winds cause it to blow sideways. Housing the homeless this time of year always becomes a challenge, trying to formulate a plan for the coldest nights so no one will be left on the back alleys, or in open doorways. But despite best efforts there are some who seem to defy all logic and decide to stay on the street. Now, I don't want to compare Saskatoon winter with Victoria's. But when you combine wet, wind and cold...it has the effect of velcro. Its a cold that anyone on the street will tell you, " it sticks to you and won't let go."
But some people in the inner city will go out of there way to avoid shelters. You would think with all the people in the shelter their might be a sense of community. Most folks will tell you, no. A lot of times it's an amplification of what's on the street. It's a more crowded sense of disconnect, isolation, brokenness, fear...in which the barometric pressure of emotion can feel like a brewing storm.
Jordon Cooper is " Residential Coordinator " at the Salvation Army Shelter in Saskatoon. Jordon has been in that position for a number of years and has his fingers on the pulse of poverty, homelessness and addiction in the inner city. Through his hands on experience he has gleaned a lot of wisdom. And in a recent StarPhoenix article" Homeless need not just Shelter " Jordon explains the difference between shelter and home. These following quotes from the article reveal how shelters really don't solve the homeless problem...it's more a band aide solution.
" For years when I talked and read about homelessness, I thought it was about shelter. It’s not.Homelessness is a lack of home, a place to go to be safe, find someone who loves you and you love back, and a place where you have connections to others. A shelter that doesn’t have any of that is just a place to crash and stay warm."
" The solution isn’t emergency shelters, but a place where they can find what they are looking for – whether that’s safety, friends or just a quiet place to call home.
Until we manage to build the affordable and social housing that can make this happen, we will have people freezing outside because to them, it’s not any worse than all their other options."
(montage: J Fowler)
Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out on the world.”
While those words sound beautiful, many of us struggle with how to care for broken people. Compassion comes easily for people who are like us, but what about people on the margins of society. How can we be the hands and feet of Christ to people who are struggling in the downward spiral of poverty and isolation?
Can you see the face of Jesus in the faces of those in need?
Yet Jesus was very clear in his teaching that living faith out, somehow we don’t have the option not to care for the down and out.
The Good Samaritan crossed the road and was moved by compassion for the mugged man. He got involved by bandaging his wounds and then took him to the nearest rehab center and paid for his rehabilitation.
What we do for the least of these, Jesus said, is what we do for him. The list included providing food and clothing, looking after people in prison, caring for the sick and taking in strangers.
Compassionate care for the poor is central to the teaching of Scripture. Ultimately the power to overcome poverty lies in learning to live the Jesus way, to follow him in how he interacted with the poor and the marginalized, and to be willing—like Jesus, to lay down our self-centered, materialistic lives to take up the cross of loving generosity, gentle kindness, and tenacious advocacy for the rights of the poor and the oppressed.
The needs of the poor are often complicated. Generations of social castaways are plagued with inadequate education, dilapidated housing and few employable skills.
What can we do find and serve the least of these?
Navigating the inner city streets of victoria since 2003 CARTS has seen many men and women who have become homeless in the city , and as we have visited the marginalized community of the inner city, We have discovered good news of the gospel unfold before us...in profound mystery Jesus comes alive...in our midst. We actually can, in very practical ways, find sustainable, manageable ways to make a difference in the lives of the poor.
Caring for the poor is something we do together. As individuals, as a community, we each have a role to play. The spirit stirs the waters of compassion within us to move in faith, to move love into action feeding and clothing the homeless, providing shelter, caring for the sick and ministering to those suffering. Each of us can plant our humble seed of faith, into nurturing friendships. More than anything poverty needs friendships.
It's hard to believe we're coming up to a year on our new route through the inner city of Victoria. We continue to humbly nurture this beautiful ministry...we act in faith, and God continues to faithfully provide. I'm blessed to be part of this inner city community.
And this from Fran Slofstra last evening...
"God does provide faithfully! We made 460 cookies last night! Praise God for volunteers to do so, the kitchen at PCS and the pounds and pounds of ingredients!! Awesome!"
There are so many things that happened behind the scenes that make CARTS happen on a Sunday. Many people we don't see, the faces behind the cookies...the faces, the laughter, the joy, the hands...the ingredients of " love " beyond the sugar, the chocolate chips, flour, smarties.
The love of the volunteers permeates everything CARTS is...it's the fuel the powers, it's what embraces, it's what inspires, it fills, it feeds...it's what makes God visible.
In a sense, Sunday CARTS are a bit of " faith-filled " miracle. We are a small, local, organic and fluid community...with a shoe string budget. Some weeks the shoe string is shorter than others. But, much like the parable of the few loaves and fish we faithfully put it all in the hands of Jesus and he always seems to multiply what little we have.
Thanks...to everyone, seen and unseen...your love is felt every week.
We are slowly re-booting the website that has been dormant for a while. One thing we want to bring to the forefront of the " WEBSITE " is the blog. We hope this will be a space of engagement, of conversation...where we can share CARTS stories. Where we can let you know what's happening on the streets of Victoria's inner city. We hope to talk about compassion, hospitality, grace...and a whole lotta Love. So again please join us in conversation, and practice...as we continue the mysteriously, beautiful journey of Love.
We are a local Victoria, BC charity dedicated to fulfilling our mission: