Although this area does have access to welfare relief from both government and charitable organizations, the majority of these people cherish their independent lifestyle, actually shying away from any institutional help due to fear of losing their individual freedom. As I continue to befriend this community of people, I have come to learn that their needs extend beyond the basics. Like anyone else they need and crave love, friendship and acceptance. Living outside of established lifestyle norms has put the homeless at odds with the rest of society and has nurtured their marginalization. Do we let these people just fend for themselves because they do not want the institutional answer? Do we just watch silently, ignoring the need, hoping the problem will just work itself out?
I believe I have been called to love these people without pretenses, without judgment, and without the need to try to fix them. Feeding them, listening to them, praying with them, and just spending time with them are a few ways that I have tried to build a loving relationship with them. I have come to learn that one of their primary comfort issues is staying warm at night, even during moderate weather. With this problem in mind, I have decided to partner with the Empowerment Plan, based in Detroit, Michigan (http://www.empowermentplan.org/about). Veronika Scott, the founder of the Empowerment Plan, has created a specially designed coat that transforms into a sleeping bag. Since 2012, her non-profit organization has hired over 45 previously homeless individuals to manufacture and distribute more than 25,000 coats worldwide. I showed a prototype to the Alondra Park residents and they enthusiastically agreed this would be an excellent solution to keeping warm at night.
As a meaningful way of loving our local homeless people, I would like to provide a $100 sleeping bag/coat to whomever needs one. In order to accomplish this task, I need you! If you are feeling moved to partner with me, you can do so either monetarily (any donation amount is appreciated) or through your highly cherished prayers. All donations will go through our church, Community of Hope, and because we are a 501(c)3 all donations are tax deductible.
May God richly bless you for your generosity.
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