A Prayer for Children

Composed by Ina Hughs from the Carnegie community (Downtown Eastside) in Vancouver.  (15/4/98)

We pray for children… who put chocolate fingers everywhere, who like to be tickled, Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, who sneak popsicles before supper, who erase holes in math workbooks, who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those… Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, who can’t bounce down the street in a new pair of sneakers, who never ‘counted potatoes,’ who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead, who never go to the circus, who live in an x-rated world.

We pray for children… who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish, who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money, who cover themselves in Band-Aids and sing off-key, who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink.  Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those… who never get dessert, who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents watch them die, who can’t find any bread to steal.  Who don’t have rooms to clean up, whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser, whose monsters are real.

We pray for children… who spend all their allowance before Tuesday, who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food, who like ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed, who never rinse out the tub, who get visits from the tooth fairy, who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool, who squirm in church and scream in the phone, whose tears we sometimes laugh at, and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those… whose nightmares come in the daytime, who will eat anything, who have never seen a dentist, who aren’t spoiled by anybody, who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep, who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must.  For those we never give up on, and for those who don’t have a second chance.  For those we smother… and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

Reprinted with permission from The Heart of the Community: the Best of the Carnegie Newsletter; Edited by Paul Taylor.  Anthology Copyright 2003, Carnegie Community Centre

 

 

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Housing Ambassador Hired

Mike Van Boom has now been hired as our full-time Housing Ambassador, with funding from the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Community Foundation

A Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church for ten years, Mike has served in both youth and senior Pastor roles.  Passionate about Social Justice, especially in the context of hospitality and compassion for those living in extreme poverty, Mike has a history of encouraging the greater engagement of faith communities in tackling poverty in both Lethbridge and Edmonton contexts.

Mike also has one foot firmly in his community, currently serving as President of the McCauley Community League.  In that context, he has led his community in conversations around housing, and had opportunities to participate in important conversations on Housing-related issues at both City Council and the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues.

Mike’s primary task will be to assist Edmonton neighbourhoods in hosting community conversations about permanent supportive and affordable housing. His ways of doing this may include presentations, workshops, media relations, publications, and use of the Internet and social media.

Fall Plenary Meeting a Success

Over 60 people from many faith communities turned out for our plenary meeting October 29 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Steering Committee members reported on our current activities, some highlights of which were the following:

  • We are fully funded for this year thanks to support from the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Community Foundation, and the United Church Edmonton Presbytery.
  • Our search for a full-time Housing Ambassador is nearing completion.
  • We are working on a new workshop presentation for community groups to complement our existing one for faith groups.
  • The Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build this year was a resounding success, with volunteers coming from a wide cross-section of faith traditions. The 2016 build has been scheduled for the summer months (rather than spring as in the past).
  • The Welcome Home program continues to produce great outcomes and is looking for more volunteers as well as donations to pay for program participants’ activities.

Anglican Bishop Jane Alexander shared the recommendations of the EndPoverty Edmonton task force, of which she is co-chair. She urged faith communities to get involved in implementing the recommendations, many of which are directly related to housing and homelessness. A spirited discussion followed. The EndPoverty recommendations can be downloaded at http://www.endpovertyedmonton.ca/new-page-1/

Plenary Meeting October 29

Come and hear about new and exciting developments in our work towards ending homelessness and supporting affordable housing.  You will hear reports about our search for a full-time Housing Ambassador, new workshops for community groups, the great success of this year’s Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build, and more.

We also would like to engage you in an initiative of great importance in the fight to end homelessness. EndPoverty Edmonton, chaired by Mayor Don Iveson and Bishop Jane Alexander, has been working for over a year to devise a strategy to end poverty in Edmonton within a generation. The Strategy has now been released.

Bishop Jane Alexander will speak about her experience working on EndPoverty Edmonton and its connection with our ongoing efforts to end homelessness. City staff will then facilitate a discussion. In preparation, we encourage you to review the Strategy ahead of the meeting at www.endpovertyedmonton.ca/new-page-1/

The meeting will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon Thursday, October 29 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 8421 – 101 Avenue, Edmonton. To confirm your attendance, please register at https://interfaith-housing.eventbrite.ca.

 

Revised Congregational Housing Action Guide Released

This guide was originally prepared in 2011 to assist members of local faith communities to find practical ways of getting involved in issues relating to homelessness and affordable housing. It has now been extensively revised with updated suggestions, links, and resources.

2015 Congregational Housing Guide

 

Housing Ambassador Needed

The Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative is seeking to hire a full time Housing Ambassador.  The main role of the Housing Ambassador will be to action the direction of the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative Steering Committee and to facilitate and assist the Edmonton Interfaith Community across Edmonton in hosting community conversations about permanent supportive and affordable housing for the homeless residents of Edmonton.  The position will also encourage healthy conversation on affordable housing between local communities in Edmonton and faith communities.  If interested, please send resumes or direct inquiries to crihiresumes@gmail.com. For more details see posting below. The application deadline is October 19, 2015.

Job Posting Housing ambassador – Sept 22 2015

Funding Proposal a Success

We were surprised and gratified by the overwhelming level of support that was expressed for our funding proposal at the plenary meeting on April 29. Developments since then include the following:

  • Funding has been secured from the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the City of Edmonton, and the Edmonton Community Foundation to support the Housing Coordinator and Housing Ambassador positions.
  • The Housing Coordinator position has been filled on a half-time interim basis by John Gee of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton.
  • The Anglican Diocese also has agreed to act on an interim basis as host organization and funding steward.
  • A hiring process for the Housing Ambassador position has been started. We hope to have this position filled by the end of September.
  • The Rev. Don Koots and Pastor Pam Reichenbach have assumed responsibility as interim co-chairs of the Steering Committee.

We thank the Catholic Archdiocese, and in particular Bob McKeon and Suzanne Brohier, for their generous in-kind support of our efforts to date, and we ask for your patience as we make the transition to having our own paid staff.

Faith Community United to Close the Door on Homelessness

A renewed commitment to Edmonton’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is only meaningful if put into action, Bishop Jane Alexander told an assembly of the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative in November. “This isn’t just a photo-op. If you’re not planning to do something, don’t sign [the Interfaith Statement],” the leader of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton and co-chair of the Mayor’s End Poverty Edmonton Task Force told a gathering of faith leaders, civic officials and community members at Edmonton City Hall.

Five years into “A Place to Call Home” – the civic plan to end homelessness – significant action by organizations like Habitat for Humanity and agencies like Homeward Trust has helped to house more than 3,200 formerly homeless people. Meanwhile, support programs like Welcome Home have worked to partner volunteers with individuals transitioning from homelessness to a home, enabling 84% of those formerly homeless people to retain their housing.
In 2011, 23 religious and spiritual communities signed their names to a call to action to eliminate homelessness, acknowledging such shared values as respect for human dignity and solidarity with those who are poor and vulnerable. They affirmed the importance of inclusive and welcoming communities, while recognizing that safe, stable, and affordable housing is vital to human thriving.
Two years later, the Edmonton Diocese initiated conversations about what supportive, affordable housing might look like in a community like Terwillegar (because there are homeless people in every neighbourhood) and Bishop Jane anticipated great support. Yet, as she recalled before the assembly, the voice of the collective faith community could barely be heard. At a town hall meeting to discuss the Terwillegar proposal in August 2013, she recognized people of many faiths in the crowd of 1,000 faces and wondered: “where are your leaders?”

Results of the latest homeless count, conducted by Homeward Trust Edmonton in October 2014 with the assistance of 300 volunteers and 60 organizations, indicate that the number of people without homes has not increased significantly since 2012. Still, to secure homes for all 2,252 people enumerated (47% of whom identified as Aboriginal) much effort is needed to break down stereotypes about homelessness and encourage a “Yes in My Backyard” (YIMBY) response to affordable housing.

“Action won’t make you popular,” said Bishop Jane. “But as faith leaders we have the unique opportunity to preach, teach and speak about justice, compassion and healing to a cross section of society – to politicians, students, bus drivers, lawyers, even people who are themselves homeless. If we can stand together as leaders and communities, I don’t think there is anything that can stand in our way of ending homelessness.”

Information about the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, including ways for individuals and faith communities to take action, is available at:
http://www.interfaithhousinginitiative.wordpress.com

Interfaith Housing Initiative kick-off for Habitat for Humanity March 20, 2014

On Thursday, March 20, 2014, representatives from 10 Edmonton faith communities assembled at noon at the site of Habitat’s largest build in Canadian history.  They were there to kick-off a three month build to be supported by 400 to 600 volunteers from their congregations.

The kick-off agenda was as follows:

  • Opening welcome by Armand Mercier (Director of Family Services).
  • Prayer by Audrey Brooks (Unitarian Chaplain at U of A).
  • Overview of the Interfaith Housing Initiative by Bob McKeon (Steering Committee Chair and Interfaith Coordinator) of the Capitol Region Interfaith Housing Initiative.
  • Summary by Fraser Williamson for Interfaith’s support of The 10 Year Plan to end Homelessness by supporting this build.
  • Address by Alan Perry (Executive Arch deacon for the Anglican Edmonton Diocese) of the Anglican’s support of the build and the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Lunch was provided by the Millwoods Sikh community and the Beth Shalom Synagogue Jewish community.

In the midst of crowded construction trailers and blowing snow there was a marvelous spirit of camaraderie and good cheer amongst these very diverse faiths.  They were all seeking ways to serve the marginalized in our community.  In this case it was to support the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness by engaging in this major project to provide affordable housing.

 The following Habitat personnel’s excellent support should be acknowledged and commended:

  • Angela Robichaud (Volunteer Manager).
  • Kim Manderson (Volunteer Resource Manager).
  • Kim Dedeugd (Volunteer Coordinator).
  • Kyle Keller (Communications Officer).

Religious and spiritual communities working to end homelessness in Edmonton and area

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