Christmas Eve 2009 – Special Events

Christmas Holy Night Star of Bethlehem - Jesus Christ is born

O’ Holy Night

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior— yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!


Thank-you to all my readers of the Missonlog blog.  Hope you all have a blessed Christmas and joyous New Year! –

<>< Andy Coats

Follow me  @canayjun on Twitter

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward everyone.

::

Galaxy

homelessness homeless #whyhomeless

home-less
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Remember New Orleans 8 29 2005 Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina: 4 Years Ago 8-29-2005 Video Remembrance

Hurricane Katrina: Rain to Renaissance – YouTube Video

I couldn’t let August 29th go by without posting some remembrance for our many friends in New Orleans. Four years ago today Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and devastated New Orleans. I went down and volunteered with Project417, staying until August ’06 working in relief centers and hosting volunteers helping gut out and repair flood ravaged homes in the Lower 9th. I put the video together from photos we took, news shots, NASA photos and other YouTube videographers. It still needs an ending that shows the spirit of revival and community caring that continues to grow today. Worth watching? You tell me – I will never forget New Orleans.

Re-tweet it @canayjun to let me know you watched. Thx!

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

Toronto Helps – More volunteers help with sandwich runs to the homeless

Numbers of new volunteers increase at Project417 grassroots program for Toronto’s homeless – Thanks to Social Networking , Blogging and Search Engine Optimization:

2009 has been an exciting year here at Project417. We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of local Toronto volunteers willing to come out and help us on our sandwich runs to the homeless

A sandwich run is simply volunteers delivering nutritious bag lunches to homeless street people by walking well traveled routes in the downtown Toronto area where street involved people live. It is a relational outreach – a grassroots community building activity – in addition to delivering a meal to a hungry person, hopefully friendly conversations take place and bridges of trust strengthened.

Volunteers handing out bag lunches

Volunteers handing out bag lunches

Project417’s volunteer ranks have been swelled this year by caring people from all walks of life, from young teens to working adults – bank executives, health care professionals, singles clubs like Meet Market Adventures, whole families and even the cast of Toronto’s smash hit “We Will Rock You”. This past year we have hosted more than two thousand volunteers. Most of these new volunteers found out about us through search engines like Google. If you follow that Google link you’ll see that Project417’s sandwich runs are ranked first and three other results relate to our sandwich runs to the homeless.  Even Microsoft’s brand new offering Bing -which replaces their MSN Live search – ranks the MissionLog right here first and five or six other Project417 results including volunteer videos on Facebook.

I’ve worked hard over the last few years to improve our search results so that Project417 can more easily connect with volunteers, because, in the end, the beneficiaries are Toronto’s homeless and under-housed. We can’t afford professional SEO services or IT  Web 2.0 and 3.0 consulting, so all of this sucess has been home grown sweat equity. By far the biggest success has been WordPress.com – where you’re reading this blog right now – the MissionLog or missionlog.wordpress.com – WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms. It’s free and the blogs don’t carry any advertising. It is easy to use and set up your own blog, but has powerful options like tagging, gadgets, video and topical categories that really help  optimize your search engine ranking. There are a host of other online tools I’ve used to promote this blog and the Project417 official website and I’ve listed some of them at the end of this post.

Here at Project417, we’ve been facilitating sandwich runs for almost twenty years – our Director, Joe Elkerton first started going out to visit the homeless in the late eighties with a handful of college friends when reports of deaths among the homeless outside on the streets first surfaced in the news. This was before government sponsored programs like StreetHelp and Streets to Homes. The main focus of the program 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 by emailing volunteer@project417.com – After taking part in our orientation presented by experienced team leaders the night of the sandwich run we head out on the streets for two or three hours. 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.

You can help get the word out online – visit any of the following links and share them in your blog or on facebook, or post them on Digg or Reddit. There’s lots of photos and even video of our volunteer experience.

Project417 Sandwich Run to the Homeless

TOStreets – another blog on Windows Live Spaces

TOstreets on MySpace – the MySpace page

Project417 – The Facebook page – become a fan

Canada News Blog – a more general blog by Canayjun (moi)

Hogtown Prophets – Listening to prophetic voices from the street

And some of these great link sharing sites –

Twine.com – visit Homeless on twine

Technorati – Homeless blog search by Outreach417

Twitter – follow @canayjun on Twitter

Delicious.com – Outreach417’s bookmarks – hundreds!

[I’ll post more here soon]

Winnipeg Red River Flood Watch – Saturday, April 11

Flood Update – Monday April 13 – click here for Canada News Blog

::

News Alerts – Sunday, April 12, 2009

Flooding, evacuations and rooftop rescues of stranded residents in St. Andrews and St. Clements Saturday night – Major flooding caused by ice jams – many homes damaged by ice as well as flood water (more)

Red River Flood Watch – April 11, 2009 – Updates: Winnipeg, Manitoba area and Fargo, North Dakota

Alerts – Saturday, April 11

EmergWeb Updates – City of Winnipeg – Local calling area, call 311

At-risk property owners still required to leave dikes in place.
Ice jams moving slowly northward, somewhat reducing threat
Flyover of river system shows positive change in water and ice conditions this morning
Volunteer efforts not required at this time

More Updates –

Winnipeg flood response eased but ice jams still greatest threat:
The Floodway continues to flow smoothly and a major ice jam dislodged Friday -resulting in a few hundred volunteers being sent home as flood threat eased. The area is not entirely past all risk of flooding due to the presence of ice in the floodway, which is not meant to be opened in the presence of major ice flows. At least one large ice pan is still in the floodway – this has the risk of causing another ice jam and flooding.

:: photo Angela Ward / Winnipeg Free Press

Areas at the greatest risk of flooding, are north of Winnipeg , concentrated for now in Selkirk, although there has been some flooding to the south as well. At the Manitoba U.S border area Highway 75 has been closed for a few days and should remain so for another week or so. It is also difficult to say what the impact will be of the water diverted through the Floodway on ice jams to the north. Because ice is flowing through the Floodway, when it exits the northern outlet, all the ice will then meet existing ice jams near Selkirk and other communities if they have not dislodged by then.

The outlook is that flooding will still come – the slow moving Red River crest is in the Emerson to Letellier area and is expected at Morris on Monday. It should reach the south end of Winnipeg on Thursday. Warmer temperatures expected Sunday and Monday will also speed the spring thaw and increase local surface runoff into the river basin.

North Dakota , the Fargo area, is seeing a second major crest in the Red River . Though not as severe as the end of March when many were evacuated, threats to dikes are severe and flooding is taking place in several areas. Manitoba residents will also have to be on the lookout for this second wave of elevated river levels as it moves north into the region again.

There are no plans to send out our Toronto team of volunteers yet as the situation is being handled well by local volunteers. I’ll continue posting the updates both at the Canada News blog as well as her on the MissionLog from WordPress.com and will post volunteer opportunities for Toronto area folks wishing to get involved at the Project417 website – project417.com

Red River Flood Watch – Update, April 7 – Winnipeg, Manitoba and area, Fargo, North Dakota

Red River Flood Watch – April 7: Winnipeg, Manitoba Update – Fargo, ND

Red River Flood Watch – Update, April 7 – Winnipeg, Manitoba and area, Fargo, North Dakota

You’ll notice at the Canada News Commentary blog that I’ve been following closely the Red River flood situation in both Manitoba and North Dakota. This news watch on the flooding has also been twinned here at the MissionLog blog at WordPress.com

My goal is to gather the latest news from the most reliable news sources on the scene in the areas and present an accurate synopsis both to residents of the affected areas and concerned people across the country  worried about families or wondering how best to help – with an emphasis on volunteerism. The latest flood updates and links to news articles are just below. [sources- cbc.ca; WinnipegFreePress.com; Government of Manitoba; City of Winnipeg winnipeg.ca]

::

I work with Project417, a small grassroots non-profit in Toronto. Normally, we work out on the streets with the inner city homeless population. For the past several years, Project417 has also been directly involved in Disaster Recovery work, specifically organizing volunteers to go and help those rendered homeless by disasters. Homelessness can befall anyone by environmental disaster as well as other circumstances, and we have experience in helping our neighbors across North America – as they are usually no more than a couple of days drive.

Relief efforts Project417 has  responded to include:  Hurricane Ivan, Grenada, fundraising for YWAM – Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, first response mobile canteens, emergency distribution center, crisis counselling, Lower 9th ward home rebuilding – Hurricane Ike, Houston Galveston County, first response mobile canteens, emergency distribution center, San Leon home rebuilding – City of Toronto, 2008 propane explosion, 2008 Secord Avenue Hydro vault explosion, 2009 East and West end apartment explosions, food and refreshment services at community evacuation centres – City of Vaughan and Region of Durham, emergency exercises – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Trillium provincial emergency exercise. For many of these we partner with the central region Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, while for Hurricane Katrina and Ike, Project417 has directly organized the home rebuilding efforts with hundreds of volunteers.

Emerson area road flooded - cbc.ca photo

Emerson area road flooded - cbc.ca photo

Ice Jams UnpredictableManitoba

In the Winnipeg area and elsewhere in Manitoba, the greatest risk reported right now from the rising levels on the Red River are from the widespread ice jams along many stretches of the river, combined with still extensive ice pans still covering much of the river. Winnipeg officials are confident that the recent relatively good weather conditions are reducing the risk of serious flooding. The good weather also assisted in making the job of hundreds of area volunteers who turned out over the weekend in increasing the sandbagging levels within Winnipeg city limits and in communities north such as St. Andrews and Selkirk, as well as south in Emerson. ( Ice jam raises river in Selkirk, threatens homes, April 7)

In addition, the province is making use of its Amphibex ice breakers on the ice pans and ice jams in several trouble spots on the river. The city’s Floodway, built to divert rising waters around the city during floods, can not normally be opened until ice jams and pans have melted or cleared, as letting in the ice could cause structural damage withing the Floodway. Officials are reported to have decided to open the floodway this week however and are taking steps to clear the jams.

The unpredictability of the ice jams makes it difficult to asses the impact of the cresting waters. Currently waters are expected to crest at just over 6 metres withing flood wall and dike protection, with sandbagging raising levels to about seven and a half metres for safety.

Similarly, on the border of Manitoba, Emerson is going to be the first facing this week the rising waters heading up from North Dakota. The CPR rail line is already closed by flooding in the area, but Emerson officials are similarly confident the town is prepared to meet the flood and don’t expect levels to reach catastrophic levels seen in the past. However they expect Highway 75 to be flooded, the main highway between Manitoba and the U.S. with expected lengthy delays for truckers and travellers.

Winnipeg area residents wishing to volunteer can call from the local calling area Winnipeg’s 311 information service, or email 311@winnipeg.ca with their name, telephone number and times of availability. You can also visit the area’s EmergWeb site at http://winnipeg.ca/emergweb

The Salvation Army and Red Cross in Manitoba has been out providing relief to volunteers and residents. Project417 volunteers remain on call.

Fargo, North Dakota may face second wave of floodwaters.

The U.S. Weather Service has issued new warnings to North Dakota residents that Fargo could face a second surge of floodwaters later this month and officials are watching reports closely. Just last week, Fargo and area residents escaped the worst as the Red River flood crest was lower than expected and the majority of dikes and sandbagging efforst held. More than 1,000 National Guard are still in the area to help if conditions should worsen again – as well as the combined forces of Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services and the Red Cross.

I’ll post more updates here as soon as I can and at Canayjun’s Canada News blog. If there are any volunteer efforts being organized from Toronto, I’ll also post them here and at the Project417 website. Post a comment here if you have any volunteer information or breaking news.

50 Reasons to Leave Facebook

From a recent Facebook Note –

Facebook Note

In no particular order:
(like, you really need 50 reasons?)
1. You have better things to do, no really.
2. Have you ever actually read the Facebook Terms & Conditions?
3. See number 50
4. It spawns spam – it is spam spawning.
5. Facebook mines your personal data and relationship information to sell to advertisers.
6. You’re already a member of other social networking sites like StumbleUpon, or Myspace, or Spaces, or Digg, or etc etc

19. You spend more time on Facebook than you do actually with your friends in person.

22. Twitter…

For all fifty reasons, especially #49 and 50, click read more or Digg it up.

read more | digg story

The reason an article on leaving Facebook would appear on this site, which is normally devoted to volunteerism, activism and homelessness issues – is that Facebook wants our business.  Recent Facebook developments and upgrades have concerned many Facebook users, and forced them to realize they are not Facebook “customers”, merely data sources to be mined on behalf of real Facebook customers: businesses, organizations and advertisers. Project417 does have a Facebook page – and it has been a frustrating experience, for a charitable, non-profit to navigate and configure exactly what that Facebook “Page” is supposed to accomplish or leverage from the 175 million plus Facebook users.

To really find out, I suppose, would mean spending money, i.e. paying the Facebook gurus to improve our exposure – which rankles because we’d rather spend money helping the homeless. Our Facebook page has 47 fans (out of 198 friends and countless friends of friends and the Facebook Networks it appears in). While this WordPress blog – missionlog.wordpress.com – has had more than 15,000 views since inception – AND WordPress.com has a no banner advertising policy. The Missionlog blog turns up frequently in search engine results from Google and the rest and regularly gets referrals from StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit to name a few. That is visibility for our cause – it has been a real benefit to the poor and homeless we help, even contributing in a real way to recent relief efforts in Texas following Hurricane Ike. The pre-Christmas volunteer team that was such a big help down there found Project417 on WordPress, right here.

So for Project417’s humanitarian cause, social applications like the WordPress blogosphere, and others like Blogger, iGoogle, Youtube, MySpace, Spaces, Flickr Photos, Picasa Web Photos, Twitter and many others, have only helped and are generally very easy to configure and begin sharing with friends and supporters. Not to say that their focus is not on generating profit, of course they are businesses too, but they have arrived at successful business models by focusing on users first, and letting the resultant traffic drive their growth. Facebook’s business model however, seems to have morphed into the tail wagging the dog – a frantic search for the most money-making interface at the expense of users.

As a user – it was fun on Facebook for a while, connecting with friends, updating the status, writing on walls, tagging photos. But did Facebook make friends for me? Of course not, they all came from my existing (multiple) email address books. The Facebook “friend finder” might have added two or three people to my contact list (by mining friends of friends), but then those connections probably would have been made at any of the other existing social network sites, or by the tried and true email forwarding method. But of course then things changed. The new facebook look and feel. Questions about the terms and conditions and ownership of content – all issues stemming from Facebook’s yearning to evolve from a Harvard University bulletin board and high-school messaging service into a scion of business profitability.

So is Facebook enriching my friendships? Or infringing on time spent valuably with people in person? Will leaving Facebook, lose me friends? Of course not. Will I be out of touch because I’m not logged into facebook? – I think not.

Will the joke be on Facebook when people leave Facebook and delete their profiles? I trust they see the humor – maybe it will spur a change.. You can make it happen. Share this blog on your Facebook profile. Digg it up! Post it on Reddit. Blog it here at WordPress,  forward an email to everyone in your address book –

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

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