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

Project417 Online Newsletter – June 2009

StreetLife – Project417 – June 2009 Vol 6 Issue 8

Chuck - I'd rather die than be homeless another winter


Our friend Chuck – his portrait at the ROM exhibition June 2009

Dear Friends,

Thanks for reading the online version of the Project417 newsletter. This will give you the latest updates on Project417’s ongoing mission to the homeless. We’d like you to be able to read more, but frankly, without continuing financial support from great people just like you, Project417 is unable to provide additional web content for the newsletter at this time.

Our financial needs for support right now are critical. Without your donations Project417 will not be able to continue to provide essential services in 2009. These services include:

Sandwich Runs to the Homeless

– more than fifty thousand meals delivered to date
– on average, we deliver a nutritious bag luunch to around 500 homeless street people every month
– more than two thousand church and school volunteers visit Project417 every year to help
– your donations provide for expenses to traansport volunteers visiting the homeless, salaries for staff to provide volunteer safety and additional food, water, sleeping bags, and clothing during severe weather alerts

Project417 Urban Adventures

Short Term Missions – an urban, inner city experience – Project 417 has been hosting urban missions teams to the inner city in Toronto since the 1980’s but is now growing this ministry through Project417 Urban Adventures (UA). Urban Adventures will provide teams with the opportunity to come to Toronto and participate in a variety of urban outreach experiences. The goals of this program are to effectively serve the at-risk, low income communities we reach out to, to impact the worldviews and opinions of students toward a more Christ-like view of the urban reality. UA provides missions opportunities to Youth (and other group) leaders that will be easy to plan and allow them to experience the trip alongside youth – providing discipleship along the way. UA is a partnership with Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.

Bloor Lansdowne Community Dinner

– A Partnership program with the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, a church that has been located here in Toronto since the 1930’s
– runs every Wednesday evening from 6PM to 8PM
– provides a free, home-cooked meal for anyone in the community. So far we are serving about sixty to one hundred guests including street homeless, residents of neighbouring shelters and transitional women’s housing, needy families and other local church neighbours
– Live musical entertainment every week
– volunteers are needed, and donations to purchase the fresh food every week, clothing bank donations are also accepted

The STEP Program Sex Trade Exit Program

STEP strives to help sexually exploited people in Toronto, Canada. The core of our work is to express the gospel in both word and deed and to engage in discipleship with our community. We do our best to address the suffering of those who are currently involved in prostitution and provide opportunities for change for those interested in exiting the sex trade. Project417 welcomes the addition of Tara McPherson, our newest faith-based missionary, to run the STEP program. For the past few months, in partnership with BLCF, STEP has run a late evening drop-in for women on Bloor Street every Thursday night from 9:30pm to 3:00am called Serenity Cafe.

Out of the Cold Program for Street Youth (November – April)

– established in the fall of 1996, by Rev. Joe Elkerton, in conjunction with Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto, now known as Knox Youth Dinner & Foodbank
– this emergency shelter program was thhe first Out of the Cold program specially for street youth from 16 to 25 years of age
– currently the program has expanded to proovide meals, a food bank, clothing depot, service referrals, and counselling; overnight sleeping accomodation can no longer be provided
– serves more than one hundred youth every week
– several of Project417’s staff and volunteers are on site at Knox every week to provide mentoring to street youth, and assist Knox coordinate volunteers

Counselling Services

– Under the direction of Rev. Joe Elkerton, Project417 provides counselling services to the homeless
– clients include homeless men, women aand youth, street involved youth and at risk families living in poverty
– counselling includes healthy lifestyles reeinforcement, addiction counselling, anger management, and family counselling
– in addition Project417 staff have been trained and certified in Critical Incident Stress Management to be involved in emergency response services and disaster relief
– CISM components include: Group and Individual Crisis Interventions; Trauma & Addictions; Pastoral Crisis Intervention; School Crises

Street Outreach to the Homeless

– the staff and missionaries at Project417 conduct regular outreach to the homeless street population and at-risk inner city residents
– the Project417 model is not a traditional shelter based approach, rather it takes place out on the street where the homeless live
– the outreach comprises both individual one on one interaction and group settings
– in conjunction with the sandwich run ministry, it is the most relational of Project417’s programs
– outreach includes: social program referrals; crisis intervention; personal friendship evangelism; discipleship; fellowship; faith community referrals

Short Term Missions

Hurricane Disaster Recovery – Gulf Coast – Hurricane Katrina – Hurricane Ike

– In September, 2005, the first short term mission teams from Project417, visited New Orleans for one, two and three week terms
– fifty volunteers in seven teams have gone on Project417 short term missions to New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston, Texas
– Andy and a team of fifteen volunteers from Georgia State University visited San Leon, Galveston County, Texas to help with Hurricane Ike relief in the renovation of a storm damaged home belonging to a Vietnamese – American family
– there is currently no funding available for the next short term mission, but plans are to visit the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans in 2009 and team with Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Housing Institute
– On TV –  “The Old Man and the Storm, a PBS FrontLine documentary by June Cross describing the rebuilding efforts of Mr. Herbert Gettridge and his family in the Lower Ninth Ward, aided by volunteers (including Project417); the documentary aired Jan. 2009 and can be watched online at PBS

Thanks for reading this far. We hope you have a better understanding of the essential services Project417 provides to the homeless, both here in Toronto and where disaster strikes elswhere. We need to continue. We need your support. Over 500 street homeless and 6,000 shelter housed men and women benefit from Project417’s core ministries. Thousands in New Orleans and Texas are still waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.

A donation of $10 – $20 will help pay for our team leaders’ expenses to support the volunteers for one evening’s sandwich run. A donation of $50 will buy a Tim Horton’s coupon book and give a panhandler a meal instead of small change in his cup. $500 =  sandwich run van for one month. $1000 would pay for the travel of one short term mission team to New Orleans or fund two weeks of inner city street outreach. Partner with us today. Follow the links below to make your donation, online, or in the mail. Join with us to bring the love of Christ to those forgotten by society.
Sincerely,

Rev. Joe Elkerton
Executive Director
Ekklesia Inner City Ministries
Project417

FEMA Relief in Texas Thousands Waiting to Rebuild after Ike

Source NYTimes.com  – A letter To the Editor: from FEMA about housing relief efforts following Hurricane Ike.

Hurricane Ike damaged home in San Leon, Galveston County, Texas

Hurricane Ike damaged home in San Leon, Galveston County, Texas

Approximately 22,000 people displaced by Hurricane Ike sought and found FEMA shelter assistance. FEMA  …has reimbursed them for expenses they may have incurred. This reimbursement program was scheduled to end last week, but was extended when it became clear that repairs and clearances for some homes would be delayed. FEMA is judging extensions on a case-by-case basis. Some could stretch into next year. – quoting Jonathan F. Thompson, Director of External Affairs, FEMA”.

Andy Coats and Project417, who partnered with the Salvation Army and San Leon Community Disaster Relief for two weeks at the end of September, is retruning to San Leon with volunteer teams to help with the re-building. Many of the poorer residents of San Leon are stuck in a Catch 22 situation with repsect to their FEMA claims. Although they qualify for FEMA assistance grants to re-build their homes, the FEMA aid is dependant on the house foundations being raised at least eight feet above flood plain levels. In the case of one family Andy helped in San Leon, while the FEMA grant exceeds $25,000 – sufficient to repair the storm surge submerged home – it does not cover the cost of raising the home foundation the required height on pillars to be safe from future storm surges. As a result, no insurance company will issue a policy, and no mortgage can be issued without insurance. The result is three fold, FEMA will not pay the money without insurance on the home. The family can not afford the extensive repairs, and the home can not be sold, because no purchaser would receive a mortgage without the insurance.

Project417 is seeking donations to adopt Texas families in similar situations, assist in the rebuilding to FEMA standards, and to raise volunteer teams to take part in re-building to reduce overall construction costs. Check back to the blog pages here for updates on the next planned volunteer trips in December and January.  Share this page with your friendsDigg the story, and share it on Facebook.

read more | digg story

Appeal from Houston Charity – CSM Center for Student Missions – Hurricane Ike Damages Housing Site

I received an urgent email update from our friends at CSM in Houston today:

Houston Hurricane Alert CSM Center for Student Missions

CSM Houston’s housing site lost it’s roof during Hurricane Ike. Many of you know that Houston was directly hit by Hurricane Ike. Many homes, businesses and churches were devastated by the double devastation of wind and water.

The CSM housing site was not spared Ike’s fury. Thank God that no one was home at the time of the hurricane, but the hurricane winds did peel off the roof of the gym building where teams shower and eat and where our seasonal staff are housed. Water came through windows and the roof, drenching rooms, furniture and floors. The church’s insurance adjuster estimates about a million dollars damage for the whole property. Because of the evacuation, when our Houston city leader Paul Randall could finally inspect the site, he discovered that mold had already developed. CSM helps ministries in need, but right now, CSM Houston needs your help.

In order to continue helping the city during the crises of Hurricane Ike’s aftermath, we will need to make extensive repairs to the CSM site. We will need to replace all of the furniture and appliances in the staff housing as well as make construction repairs and replace flooring, carpeting and paint the entire facility. Though insurance will cover the structural damage to the roof it will not cover our damage and loss. Please be in prayer for the Houston team as they begin the clean up. Pray, too, that teams will come to Houston to assist with the clean up. Ask God to bring hope and encouragement to the congregation that shares their facility so generously with us.

We’d also like to ask you consider giving a special gift now to help us rebuild our housing and assist our host congregation. CSM Houston has an immediate, critical need where you can make a significant impact. Please send your gift to CSM, P.O. 900, Dana Point, CA 92629-0900 or you can donate online at http://www.CSM.org/ Look under “Opportunities” and designate your gift in the note box. Your gift today will enable CSM to continue supporting our ministry partners in the city as they rebuild.We want to thank you for all of your heartfelt care and partnership with us at CSM as together we bring hope and transformation to often forgotten people for God’s sake.

Dan Reeve
CSM President
http://www.csm.org

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CSM Center for Student Missions also has a site in Toronto, who for many years have sent volunteers – more than 500 every year – to help Project417 with our Sandwich Runs to the Homeless out on the streets and many of those volunteers are here visiting from all over the United States, even Texas. They have helped us here in Toronto for so many years I hope people can be encouraged to return the blessing and help them in their time of need.  I’ll be visiting Houston for the next two weeks to help set up an Emergency Disaster Services warehouse to distribute personal items, emergency kits and food hampers. While I’m there I’ll do my best to meet with Paul Randall of CSM Houston and get an update on their progress. Check back to the MissionLog blog here often or visit our Facebook page. <><

==> More Hurricane Updates and Photos

What is a Sandwich Run?

Have a real conversation with our friends.A sandwich run is simply volunteers delivering nutritious bag lunches to homeless street people by walking well travelled routes in the downtown area where street people live.  It is a relational outreach – a grassroots community activity – in addition to delivering a meal to a hungry person, hopefully dialogue will occur and bridges of trust strengthened.

Here at Project417 Ekklesia Inner City Minsitries, we’ve been facilitating sandwich runs for almost twenty years. The main focus of the ministry is not simply delivering food to hungry street people. The key factor is communication through conversations with our friends on the street. We don’t try to be experts or counselors, rather we try to help our volunteers – ordinary people – engage with the homeless. This is true community demonstrated by the caring act of delivering a meal.

Anyone can volunteer with us by invitation after taking part in our orientation presented by experienced team leaders. Find out how truly liberating this volunteer experience can be – to step outside your personal comfort zone and meet our homeless friends on their own grounds.

Many churches have taken up “sandwich runs” in Toronto as a favorite activity for youth groups. But in their eagerness to provide an experience for their own youth, they overlook the deeper needs of the homeless they want to help. They focus on quantity, not quality – the sandwich runs become a mad dash around the city dropping bag lunches with as many homeless as possible, often even without asking the recipient simply ” Would you like a bag lunch?” I encounter these groups all the time, often as many as thirty or forty teens or younger children often accompanied by only a single adult. It becomes their charitable duty, rather than a ministry to reach people. While our friends on the street often tell us that they are encouraged by seeing the young people, and are thankful for the food, how can they be expected to engage in meaningful dialogue with someone who is fifteen or younger?  They crave mature discourse.  It would be wonderful to see more adults on sandwich runs – people who our street friends can relate to, and can understand some of the uniquely adult challenges they face such as family break-ups, job loss, abuse, addictions, psychological distress, relationship issues and so on.

Furthermore, these well meaning church groups are actually putting the safety of their youth at risk in not partnering with an inner city organization that provides experience, guidance and street saftey for their groups. I’ve actually seen church groups of dozens of children being herded by a single adult through Crack Central in Toronto with boxes of lunches and attempting to give lunches to dealers engaged in drug transactions. Not everyone on the streets, or in the parks of Toronto is homeless, or friendly and safe. I regularily encounter sleeping homeless people on street corners with more than a dozen bag lunches and other sundry styrofoam food trays piled up by their head or feet, obviously dropped there by an inexperienced group. And I doubt whether even one of them was prepared to check if that sleeping person was actually still breathing, or would know what to do if they discovered the person were in some physical distress.

I’ve had self-important church elders and youth pastors tell me “We’re doing God’s work and are under the divine protection of Jesus Christ”.  Christ doesn’t promise us safety from harm – on the contrary, He guarantees us conflict and confrontation if we follow Him in his work. It is wise to be prepared. At Project417 Ekklesia, we take that seriously. The safety of our groups is paramount, as is the effectiveness of our ministry to the homeless. Come on out and join us. Full details and calendar online at http://project417.com/sandwich

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