Coldest Night of the Year – Burlington – Fundraiser Walk for Homeless and Hungry

Many of you will remember walking with me to deliver meals to the homeless. Well here’s a chance to do more to combat homelessness and help those living in poverty right in Burlington. The Coldest Night of the Year is a fantastically fun, family-friendly walking fundraiser that raises money for the hungry, homeless and hurting in 80+ communities across Canada on Saturday, February 21st, 2015.Coldest Night Logo (Date 2015) Bitmap - PNG

In Burlington the host organization is Burlington Open Doors located at St. Christopher’s on Guelph Line. All proceeds from the Burlington Coldest Night of the Year walk will go to support Open Doors programs.

About Burlington Open Doors:
Open Doors serves people living with poverty in Burlington. Your involvement in this walk impacts hundreds of lives in a positive way, helping build a bright future that once seemed out of reach.

By supporting Open Doors you will:

• Help provide over 34,000 nutritious meals a year to families in a social environment.
• Help clothe over 2000 people a year in our Free Clothing Store
• Support 2 after school programs that provide care for children ages 4 and up.
• Support 10 programs and one Network that help people connect with one another, building a stronger social network while providing needed goods and services.
• Provide opportunities and support for over 200 volunteer jobs.
• Support an organization that values and respects diversity.
• Help provide community based programming that targets social inclusion.

Mission Statement:
To provide a welcoming and accessible place for
the gathering together of individuals of diverse
income, education, age, ability and health that
adds an inclusive feeling of community to their
lives.

Background:
Participants in our programs over the last 10 years
have described Open Doors as a community hub.
Through programs and partnerships we provide a
meeting place that offers food, family support and
socialization for all members of the community
that choose to participate.

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Here are just some of the Open Doors programs in Burlington:

1 Partnership Food Bank West @ Open Doors
2 Weekly Community Dinner
3 Seniors’ Lunch
4 Halton Fresh Food Box Distribution
5 Community Kitchen
6 Halton Meal Network

…more

So click here to go to the Coldest Night of the Year website to sign up, volunteer or donate.

cheers!

Andy

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Bell Let’s Talk Day Supports Mental Health Initiatives

bell logo_letstalk_enFor many years here on the MissionLog, I’ve spoken about the impact of mental illness on our homeless friends out on the street. So I’m pleased this year to be taking part in a social media event called Bell Let’s Talk Day this year on January 28.  Since 2010 Bell has contributed $62.5 million dollars to mental health initiatives in Canada. A large part of that is generated through activities on Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Two-thirds of homeless people using urban shelters suffer from some form of mental illness. Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health

What happens on Bell Let’s Talk Day? We are encouraged to communicate openly in public, through social media like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ about mental health issues to end the stigma associated with mental illness. 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer some form of mental illness at some point in their lives, but it’s still something we don’t like to talk about. Getting the facts and talking openly is important in helping people find support and treatment for their illness. Further, we can’t have a discussion on the root causes of homelessness without addressing mental health.

Here are some of the posts on the MissionLog that address mental health issues:

A Girl Named R

What Do You Think is the Root Cause of Homelessness? (5 parts)

In one of my posts, I shared the following:  “A recent study, by Heather Larkin of the University of Albany – shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE – and homelessness. From her study –

More than 85 percent of the homeless respondents reported having experienced at least one of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Many (52.4 percent) had experienced more than four categories of traumatic events when growing up. … There is a high ACE prevalence among the homeless people in this study. Individuals with high ACE scores may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and cultural oppression, a person-environment interaction increasing the likelihood of homelessness. Service responses focused on identifying and addressing childhood traumas hold an opportunity for addressing ACEs before they contribute to homelessness.

By addressing mental health issues, we can take an important step in mitigating one of the major causes of homelessness. Here’s the bonus – by getting the word out on Bell Let’s Talk Day, you can help raise even more money.

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So, on January 28, let’s talk.

Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives for every:

  • Text message sent*
  • Mobile and long distance call made*
  • *By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer only
  • Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
  • Facebook share of our Bell Let’s Talk image

Join the team and if you tweet on Twitter using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, let me know there @canayjun

You can also connect with the Twitter team by going to @Bell_LetsTalk and @Healthy_Minds

See you out there on January 28th!

<><

Andy

homelessness homeless #whyhomeless

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It’s Christmas… and I’m Goin Home – Bill Wood Video

Because Christmas…

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is just past – I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends. I know we were certainly fortunate to have so many people drop in and visit Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was even better, time spent with my parents for brunch and then a visit to our close friends in Hamilton where the proverbial feast was held.

It’s a time of year to be thankful and remember what the word home means to all of us. The music video here is from my old friend Bill Wood, a veteran of the Canadian music industry, who still turns out powerful and energetic original tunes in a style all his own. “I’m Goin Home”, is one of the best new Christmas songs I have heard in a long time. The chorus, “…it’s Christmas”, stays in my head and in my heart. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Now New Year’s is coming! After a long hiatus, I expect the MissionLog blog to take on a new life for 2014 with a greater focus on street level organizations that are making a real difference by helping and housing the homeless.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Andy — @canayjun

Winter in Burlington

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

I haven’t added anything new, but still had 7,100 visitors. Guess I better get back to it. But very busy over at phoneworthy.blogspot.com and near to launching speedmobile.ca

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 in review from the Missionlog – Help the Homeless

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Social media activist – Mark Horvath – puts a face on Canadian homelessness.

For immediate release – press release: Calgary Homeless Foundation, Community Action Committee
(Toronto, ON; August 12) Heading into Toronto August 19 – 22, Cross-country Invisiblepeople.tv Roadtrip gains momentum as formerly homeless man & renowned social media activist, Mark Horvath, puts a face on Canadian homelessness.

Ever doubt the power of social media to make true change? Let us introduce you to Mark Horvath, Huffington Post blogger, @hardlynormal on Twitter and founder of invisiblepeople.tv. Mark puts power into the hands of Canada’s most vulnerable people: those experiencing homelessness. By giving individuals a voice, he is building awareness and support to end homelessness.

Mark, once homeless himself, understands the issue. He is midway through the Invisiblepeople.tv cross-Canada Roadtrip coordinated by The Community Action Committee (CAC) and the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). Socially-responsible companies General Motors, Petro-Canada, Virgin Mobile Canada, Hanes and Delta Hotels are sponsoring Mark as he gathers and posts these real, raw and unforgettable stories on: http://www.invisiblepeople.tv with mainstream media networks demonstrating the value of his message.

 We’re exposing the un-natural disaster of homelessness in Canada through the personal stories of those experiencing it.” said Tim Richter, President and CEO of the CHF “As Canadians see their homeless neighbours through Mark’s lens, they are compelled to act and join the growing number of Canadian communities committed to ending homelessness.

“The power of social media is that we associate names, faces and stories with homeless individuals.” said Barry Davidson, Chair of the CAC. “Canadians are listening and communities are galvanizing to take action to end homelessness.”

Roadtrip Stops

City Date City Date
Victoria July 5-6 Regina August 5-6
Vancouver July 7-10 Winnipeg August 8-9
Kelowna July 12 Thunder Bay August 11
Calgary July 14-16 Sault Ste Marie August 13
Red Deer July 17 Toronto August 19-22
Edmonton July 18-19 Ottawa August 28-30
Whitehorse July 21-22 Montreal September 1-3
Yellowknife July 24-26 Fredericton September 5-6
Fort McMurray July 28 Halifax September 8-9,14
Edmonton July 30-31 St. John’s September 11-12
Saskatoon August 2-3

**dates subject to change. Visit http://www.calgaryhomeless.com/cac for the most up-to-date schedule.

How can you help?

  • Spread the word, post stories on Facebook and Twitter, try & gain as much attention as you can.
  • Welcome him to your city and provide him with a tour of where homeless people stay.
  • Speak to your media friends and help get the problem noticed.
  • Follow Mark’s journey on Twitter @hardlynormal.
  • Help build support for 10 Year Plans and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Contact: Sean French, Community Action Committee

sean@calgaryhomeless.com  Twitter – @seanfrench1

About Mark Horvath

Follow Mark’s journey on www.invisiblepeople.tv, a site that shares unedited, uncensored and raw interview footage. Go to www.wearevisible.com, a site that gives people dealing with poverty and homelessness the tools to go online and have a voice.  Follow his journey on Twitter @hardlynormal, with almost 13,000 followers. Mark was featured on CTV Canada AM, CBC Connect with Mark Kelley, The Roy Green Show, CNN, CBS, L.A. Times, Mashable.com and NPR. InvisiblePeople.tv has 2.5 million video views on Youtube alone with an average of 50,000 views per month.

10 Year Plan

From 1994 to 2006, Calgary had Canada’s fastest growing population of people experiencing homelessness, culminating with nearly 3,500 people sleeping in shelters. In 2007, the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness was formed to create a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. In January 2008, Calgary became the first city in Canada to have a Plan that committed the community to end homelessness. This tour supports the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s goal to create a Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. To date over 2300 individuals have been housed with support.

The Community Action Committee

This Committee is the voice of community and works at the policy level, providing real-time information to coordinate the efforts of agencies, government and funders. With more than 100 member organizations that plan, deliver, evaluate and assess the services needed to end homelessness in Calgary, members work directly to help people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. For more information about the CAC or the invisible people Canadian road trip visit www.calgaryhomeless.com/cac.

 

Media inquiries, homeless serving agency inquiries and sponsorship inquiries can be directed to:

Sean FrenchCommunity Action Committeesean@calgaryhomeless.com@seanfrench1

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

People Say the Nicest Things Department

If you have been following over on Twitter [ and you should! at  http://twitter.com/canayjun ] – then you know that I am in the middle of a job search – primarily in the non-profit industry, organizations making an impact on helping people who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, marginalization or recovering from disasters.

I’ve been fine tuning my LinkedIn profile and received quite a few recommendations from former colleagues. Here’s one of my favorites so far:

Andy successfully inspired broad spectrum community participation as the street outreach Community Development Coordinator at Project417 – Ekklesia.  Andy’s writing, public speaking, scheduling and community liaison skills in addition to his commitment and dedication to the “Sandwich Run” program of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries were instrumental in developing a strong and dedicated army of volunteers and team of volunteer leaders. Many of the leaders and volunteers that became involved with the Project 417 program under Andy’s leadership remain in place today. I am one of them. His guidance was always heartfelt and trusted and his compassion for the plight of those less fortunate provided inspiration that resonates with volunteer groups and leaders to this day” June 9, 2011

Darlene W., V.P. Operations, JLG Asset Management Group Inc.
reported to Andy at Project417 – Ekklesia

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Harm Reduction – Humanitarian Approach to Drug Abuse Treatment

In my time working with the homeless community on the streets of Toronto, one of the hardest issues to deal with was the incidence of drug abuse – crack, morphine, heroin, oxycontin, crystal meth – especially among street youth. When I learned of the “harm reduction” approach to treatment, I realized it was the true humanitarian, compassionate approach. The following is a ground breaking document produced by the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies with resources for supporting Harm Reduction programs in your community.

Report – Out of Harm’s Way: Injecting Drug Users & Harm Reduction,

Author: IFRC, published 2011 on Scribd

In this report, the IFRC challenges policymakers, governments and donors to move beyond their own prejudices to work with stakeholders, multi-lateral organizations, civil society and those living with HIV to provide prevention, treatment, care and support to injecting drug users and their families.

Homeless, Why homeless?

Homelessness – not simply defined as “absolutely without shelter” or “the chronically homeless” – is a plague on our society, sapping the health of our communities.

homelessness homeless #whyhomeless

home-less


There’s been a hiatus here at the MissionLog as I’ve transitioned from a full time outreach worker to the homeless with Project417  back to a more traditional career as a phone guy in the telecommunications industry. Reasons?  Ask me offline – but at the core is a realization that volunteerism and community development is driven by ordinary people working ordinary jobs who have the desire, opportunity and ability to give back.  And I’m about as ordinary as they come. I’m tired of homeless friends who die without hope of ever having a home again.

I still have a vision:  to definitively identify the root cause of homelessness and find the cure.  Homelessness is not a poverty issue. It’s not simple economics, nor is it a self-inflicted wound.  It is complex. It is pervasive.

So I’m working towards that end by founding The Whyhomeless Movement – a grassroots campaign to really help the homeless. This can’t be left to governments. It’s our city, our community, our village.  Joining the WhyHomeless Movement is easy. Start by visiting Twitter and tweeting homelessness issues with the #whyhomeless hashtag. Search for people who are making a difference and tweet their story.  Tweet out and re-tweet links to sites on the web that make a difference in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness.  Follow me at – http://twitter.com/canayjun and let me know you’ve joined the WhyHomeless Movement.

Knox Dinner and Food Bank for Homeless Street Youth

The Roots of the Knox Youth Dinner & Food Bank

Formerly:  Knox Toronto – First Nations Gospel Assembly – Out of the Cold Program

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Many people ask me just what types of programs and services, other than our nightly street sandwich runs to the homeless, that Project417  operates in Toronto. One of the most amazing programs in the city is the Knox Youth Dinner & Foodbank that runs every winter from November to April on Tuesday nights.  The Knox program was a joint grassroots effort of our director Joe Elkerton and a group of willing Knox volunteers headed by Vicki and Bill Wood.  The program is entirely operated by Knox now – and that is Project417’s vision,  to mobilize community groups to establish sustainable services for the homeless. Personally, I’ve helped with the program for over six years and more than half a dozen Project417 team leaders show up every week to help the other volunteers.

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It’s where I have made friends with dozens of Toronto street youth like the girl named ‘R’. In 2008 I was invited to join a “street family”.  This is a family unit (as opposed to gangs) formed by homeless and underhoused kids out on the streets to replace their traditional families – to care for each other, watch each other’s backs, advocate for family members, share shelter, food, information and income.  This “family” was the largest of its kind in Canada.  My friends Mick and Ozz nominated me at a family meeting and I was the first to be unanimously voted in. They are my people, my little brothers and sisters – I love every one of them. Many are housed now, working, finishing high school, studying at university and raising their own families. It all started out on the streets of Toronto, and Tuesday nights at Knox.

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History:

On December 9, 1997, the congregation of Knox church, in conjunction with First Nations’ Gospel Assembly, opened its doors for the first time to the homeless and poor street youth in Toronto, following the Out of the Cold program model.  The idea for the program came from  Joe Elkerton of  First Nations’ Gospel Assembly – a church program of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries – Project417 (for native peoples).  Joe approached us at Knox after having to close a program at another downtown church after less than a full season.  Joe was familiar with the Out of the Cold (OOTC) philosophy and program format, and with a long-time ministry to homeless street youth and First Nations aboriginals,  felt there was a need for a similar program targeting street youth specifically.  The youth tend to feel uncomfortable at adult shelters.  At the same time,  a small group of us at Knox were looking at ways our church could expand its work in its own community.

We started as a pilot program in two ways:  Knox Toronto Session approved a one-year pilot, and  our program was submitted as a new church member of  Out of the Cold for one year. Almost immediately upon starting this program, we learned that a youth program is not the same as an adult Out of the Cold program.knox3

For one thing, we couldn’t expect to simply open our doors and wait for street kids to come to us. We had to build some trust first. So for the first year we would have volunteers with Project417 out in a van handing out sandwiches and inviting kids to come to Knox. The need for such a place soon became apparent,  as just about everyone who came once became a regular, and told their friends. On our first night we fed 10 youth and six slept the night. By that February, we were averaging 35 guests per night. (Now we serve more than one hundred youth).

We continued the Project417 van runs to deliver food to people outside and to youth who still didn’t want to come inside for the night. It gave us a presence on the street and also helped show our volunteers where our guests come from, which really helped them to relate to the kids.

Another difference: we had planned to serve an early evening meal at a set time, and then move on to quiet activities and then sleeping time, But we soon found that our young guests were not always prepared to come in for the night right at our opening time. Our vision of a big family-style sit down meal for everyone had to be re-arranged a little. Now we serve dinner at 6:30 for all guests and volunteers who are there, but kids trickle in throughout the night, and are welcome to eat whenever they are ready.

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Activities we offer at Knox include:  basketball, games, bowling (we need volunteers to help set the pins in our two-lane bowling alley), movies, hair colouring and haircuts, bingo, chess, lots of home made desserts, popcorn and conversation. Recent additions include a couple of donated guitars that the kids like to use, and we have initiated bi-weekly music nights, where a couple of volunteers bring in an amp and mics and guitars and drums and welcome any of the kids to join in an impromptu concert. We also have a volunteer set up a sewing table with sewing machine, repairing clothing and teaching anyone who wants to learn.  Often we have arts and crafts, which is quite popular. If we have the extra hands, we’ll offer foot baths/massages. We have a community nurse on duty. Our volunteers range in ages from 14 to 82. More than half have been volunteering for more than five years.

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For several years, employees from the Royal Bank Financial Group made it possible for us to extend the Knox program to two nights. That partnership worked very well and we are so thankful for their participation, but RBC downsizing and resultant loss of volunteers caused that extra evening program to be cancelled.  If any group is interested in starting a similar program, the space is available and we would be happy to offer any help possible!

Quite a few of the regulars just like to talk to whoever will listen. We feel the most valuable thing we offer is a safe place where they can be themselves for the night, ask for whatever they want and share their stories (true or not!). As of three years ago, many of the youth began to get housed through the Streets2Homes program and the number of youth staying overnight grew less.  As a result, the Out-of-the-Cold “overnight” portion was shut down until the need increased.

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The program has evolved for those youth – many with no income or low income and sharing “under-housed” conditions – into the current Knox Youth Dinner and weekly Foodbank:

Everyone is fed a hot, home-cooked meal (we serve restaurant style and volunteers are encouraged to join the youth at table to share a meal also) and given a bag of groceries. The new season opens November 3, 2009. We need your help to once again keep the shelves stocked. Please consider buying one extra item during your weekly shopping. Items needed include:

  • Any canned foods, fish, pasta, beans, vegetables, fruit
  • Peanut butter
  • Dry Pasta
  • Soups
  • Kraft Dinner
  • Coffee, tea
  • Toilet paper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Condiments: hot sauce, mustard, ketchup, relish
  • Cereals
  • Cookies, treats
  • Cleaning Products

While food is the most practical and effective help you can provide, we also accept donations of plastic and cloth shopping bags, clean plastic lidded containers and clean lidded jars. We also accept socks, underware, jeans, winter coats and boots.

More than 100 youth are served every week – Tuesday nights from 6:30 til 9pm.  Consider volunteering.

( The original version of this history, by program coordinator Vicki Wood, appeared on the website of Knox Church at http://www.knoxtoronto.org and the Missionlog’s GeoCities site. ) Enjoy the photos!

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Me and my brother, James

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