This afternoon was our first Sunday at our new location at Victoria Cool Aid Society's Downtown Community Centre courtyard: 755 Pandora Avenue.
As far as how many of our inner city friends would find us, we weren't to sure. Friday I has spent the better part of the day putting up notices, and handing out invites to people I came across on the street. These words came to mind as walked the inner city streets...
The parable of the party, from Luke 14. It's the compassionate King wanting to throw a party, and wanting no empty seats at the dinner table. So he tells his servant, " go to the inner city, the back alleys, the side streets, social housing projects." " Bring everyone you can find, the addicts, the poor, the mentally ill, the disabled, the misfits and the unloved, bring everyone you can find." " I want my table full."
I did the same thing tonight was the volunteers were setting up, Wayne and I walked around giving out more invitations. It was kind of cool bumping into Wayne again. He goes back to the pre-CARTS days when Charon and Kathy were on the Salvation Army's Beacon Blue Bus on Fort Street. Talking to Wayne you really get a sense of what a God-thing CARTS is always evolving and morphing as the spirit has moved it around the city. It is profound how God sustains CARTS, on a shoestring budget, a short shoestring it continues to serve the marginalized inner city community, now for 11 years. From the Beacon Blue Bus, to a few bag lunches to carts, from the Capitol 6 parking lot, to the Queens Manor parking lot, to the Downtown Community Centre.
So tonight not really sure what to expect we set up. Clint a resident on Pandora was the first to greet us, he was excited to see us. We remember Clint when he was living rough on the street, visiting at the Capitol 6 parking lot. Now here he was helping unloading the van, and helping set up at " his place." Next Mary came, another long member of our CARTS inner city community from the Capitol 6 and Queens Manor parking lot.
They came, and the came steadily through out the afternoon. We pretty much ran out of everything, and by the end of the evening we saw more than 160-170 people. So, it was a mix of old friends and new friends. Sure there will likely be challenges as numbers increase, but there is always opportunity to try new things as we adapt to our new place. The nice thing about being in one location for a couple of hours is the opportunity to build relationships, to listen, to share stories, and to cultivate and nurture friendships.
Thanks to all of you who prayed for CARTS as we transitioned from Queens Manor to Pandora Street. And a huge thank you to Victoria Cool Aid Society for helping us relocate and making us feel at home.
And thanks to our volunteers for always being will to change, and for going with the flow...the breath of love, the spirit of compassion and hospitality.
We are a local Victoria, BC charity dedicated to fulfilling our mission: