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.

Rev. Joe Elkerton
Executive Director
Ekklesia Inner City Ministries

Street Artist depicts Toronto homeless

I was contacted by a family friend last week,  Dan Bergeron. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM – the ROM is holding an exhibition over the next few months to showcase street art that depicts the lives of the street homeless, the struggle for affordable housing and to commemorate Toronto’s Tent City. The project, called Housepaint2, first grew out of a Luminato installation on the site of the former Tent City on Toronto’s port lands down by the harbour. In the summer of 2008, Luminato sponsored the Housepaint installation which consisted of canvas houses on which street artists were invited to portray the homeless and issues connected to the lack of housing.

Tent city was a squat on abandoned property just south of the Gardiner overpass, east of Jarvis, which grew slowly in the 90s until it housed over a hundred homeless people in tents, shacks constructed of scrap and the inevitable cardboard shelters. I first visited Tent City in 1999 during a week of homeless outreach and delivered bottled water to the residents there. In 2002, Home Depot, which owned the vacant land, hired private security guards, evicted almost one hundred homeless squatters and bulldozed the tents and shacks. Many of the former residents ended up back out on the streets of Toronto where project417 staff and volunteers still see them today.

Dan Bergeron is a rising young Toronto photographer and street artist who runs Fauxreel Studios. He’s perhaps best known for guerilla style billboard “interventions” – [another billboard here of Donald Trump] and poster art mounted throughout Toronto. Dan has been commissioned by the ROM as one of the new artists to contribute to the evolving Housepaint exhibition. As the display was moved indoors in the ROM there was a disconnect with the homeless it is to portray, and Dan hopes to bridge that gap through art that focuses on our homeless friends and raises awareness about their place in our community.

Inez - by Dan Bergeron / fauxreel

This might be through similar methods to two of his recent projects – the first was also for Luminato and was based in Regent Park last summer – where large portraits of people living in Regent Park were applied to the sides of buildings slated for demolition. Regent Park is Canada’s largest social housing project – most of it is being torn down and re-developed by the city into mixed use dwellings including market value homes and condos, not just social housing – resulting in a massive relocation of hundreds of low income families. According to Dan, in that way the community has a face. The second recent installations last summer and fall were for the AGO – Art Gallery of Ontario’s youth council  titled Shiftchange – it similarly was lifesized posters throughout Toronto, and then the hoarding walls around the AGO renovations itself.

Shiftchange poster -

Shiftchange poster -

Over the next months,  I’ll be working with Dan through our Project417 outreach programs, like the sandwich runs and community dinners, to connect him to our homeless and under-housed, street involved friends. Hopefully the result will be a series of portraits with the active involvement of the subjects to depict their real-life struggles with homelessness and inadequate housing solutions and a connection to their hopes and future aspirations of careers and life. Dan’s hope and mine is that there is ongoing follow-up with these homeless friends  to contribute to them in a real way. We look forward to the installation at the ROM when it is ready – based on Dan’s past works it is bound to raise community awareness about the homeless and make a real difference.

You can see more about Dan Bergeron’s work and the ROM Housepaint exhibition at  Find out how to volunteer for Project417 or contribute to our homeless outreach programs at

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