John & Friar André need a home now!
UPDATE: The emergency phase has passed (story below) for John and André Maria -- through this GoFundMe and an anonymous loan, we were able to purchase an RV for them, a true home on wheels! HOWEVER - the loan still needs to be repaid....and there have been numerous extra expenses from insurance to repairs, parking tickets and RV park fees... so we still need your help! (THANK YOU!)
My friends John and André Maria are in a total emergency. They've been helping members of the homeless community in West LA, while living out of their old car, essentially as homeless people, themselves... and they really need our help now.
André Maria (on the right, in photo) is a Franciscan friar (from a new interfaith order, based in Australia) who has dedicated his life to helping others, especially people experiencing homelessness and those in need. John is a lay companion, in service to the Franciscan principles. The two of them are the only representatives of their new, fledgeling (and poor) order in the USA, and as such, are largely dependent on their local circle of friends for support.
Neither of these spiritually serious, generous, gentle men ever thought they themselves would wind up homeless!
André's vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, are serious ones, and his life is one of service, managing a small food program in West LA, helping homeless people have access to good nutrition.
LIVING IN A CAR, HEALTH PROBLEMS & EMERGENCY ROOMS
Until two days ago, they were living in an old Subaru on the streets of Culver City, here in Los Angeles. Because of the extremely cramped quarters and stress of living in a car, John has had to be taken to the emergency room several times for health issues (that are getting worse by living in the car).
R.I.P. SUBARU - BUT NOW WHAT?
But two days ago, the Subaru DIED completely and now the two men are stranded here without a place to live, a car to drive, nothing. If you know Los Angeles, you know it is Car Central, and getting around without a car (or money for Uber/Lyft) is a nightmare.
PLUS THE FUR-BABIES
And then, there are Lulu and Layla -- their beloved chihuahuas.
Because of the companionship of these dear, mellow doggies, John and André aren't an easy fit with conventional homeless shelters. Or even cheap motels. Unless the accommodations are 'pet-friendly', they wouldn't be able to stay with the dogs. Lulu and Layla are their family, one of the only links to comfort and warmth in their lives right now.
HOME SWEET HOME ON WHEELS
So.... it seems the best solution is to buy these men a real home -- in fact, since this is Los Angeles (aka Car Central), to buy them a HOME ON WHEELS!
With a small RV that they can drive around, or park in homeless-friendly parking lots (there are many), John and André can come out of the pit of complete homelessness, can sleep in a real bed instead of cramped in a car, store their few belongings safely, regain their health, and can continue their mission of serving the homeless and needy here in Los Angeles.
In the meanwhile, my organization (UCBK, The Universal Church Of Baba's Kitchen, I'm a co-founder and minister) has found a decent dog-friendly hotel for John and André to stay in on a temporary basis. (Hotel living is not cheap.)
We've also found a number of leads on good-sized RVs that could be purchased immediately -- if we can provide the funds. (And purchase is only one step -- an RV requires insurance, as well as fuel and maintenance.)
THANK YOU, FOR HELPING JOHN & ANDRE (& LULU & LAYLA)...!
Please, please, however you can help -- though donations, through sharing this campaign on social media, though sending the email link to friends and family and even total strangers if need be -- we need your urgent, heartful help to get the word out, get the funds flowing, and get these beautiful Franciscan brothers a stable home..... on wheels.
All funds will go through UCBK and go towards the hotel room or other living costs, plus the RV purchase/insurance for these beautiful brothers.
To me, taking care of our brothers in this emergency is a living embodiment of the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam: "He who heals one soul heals the world entire."
We can't always solve the world's problems, or take care of whole nations-full of people in trouble, but I believe that we can take care of the people in front of us who are suffering -- that each individual act of care somehow adds up in the global balance sheet, and ripples outward in unknown ways, for the greater good.
And John and André are in front of us, right now.
Thank you for having read this far! and for your love, concern, support, and generosity towards John, André, Lulu and Layla.
- - - - - - - - -
For GoFundMe Official Requirements
Who am I? I am Alx Uttermann, minister and head of UCBK (The Universal Church Of Baba's Kitchen), a yogic church in Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz, CA, US.
Where am I from? I live in Los Angeles, CA.
My relationship to John and André? We are dear friends, and André attends UCBK events now and then.
How will the funds be used? As stated above, we are buying an RV for John and André so that they can have a home on wheels to continue their ministry to the homeless and needy in LA. Not only buying a good used RV, but having enough money for insurance, repairs, gas, etc., and covering some of the living expenses of these two until they have a permanent home.
If you intend to withdraw the money, how you plan to send the funds to the parties you're raising money for or use the money on their behalf? I intend to withdraw the money needed to purchase an RV on their behalf, and to use some of the funds to insure the vehicle, pay for AAA motor service for André, pay for any repairs or extras needed for the vehicle, pay for their stay in a dog-friendly motel, and give them whatever money they need to keep the RV in good shape, directly. As they are local, I am able to withdraw money and give it directly to them, as well as going with them to mechanics and AAA, to pay (directly from the UCBK account) for whatever services are needed for the RV.
We still have the loan to repay that allowed us to purchase the RV in an emergency situation, for these dear Franciscan brothers, and a pending move to Tucson, as well as some time in a lovely RV park near the ocean here, as they tie up their loose ends here in LA.
THANK YOU, so much, for all your love and support, out-pouring of sharing and caring, from donations to prayers, for these two special men (and their doggies).
I'm sure many of you have seen the FB post I put up, about the challenges of helping André and John park their RV safely over night here in Los Angeles, which is notoriously unwelcoming to our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness. (It's here at https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155771286683003&set=a.56220468002.68132.594083002&type=3&theater if you haven't seen.)
The good news is this -- we've managed to find a peaceful RV park for them, for the moment, and are exploring other options for the duration of their stay in Los Angeles. (They are wanting to move to Tucson, AZ, where they have a huge support community.)
Our campaign is just edging towards $8000 -- would you help us get up OVER $8000? We still have the loan to repay that allowed us to purchase the RV in an emergency situation, for these dear Franciscan brothers.
A friend on Facebook remarked that at Christmastime, many people give freely to one another, with open hearts and a loving sentiment -- and that maybe opportunities like this, to help our brothers (and chihuahuas) in need, allow us to experience Christmas every day! Do you agree?
Please, help if you can, through sharing this campaign widely, encouraging others to enjoy a daily Christmas spirit (lol), and sending your love, prayers, donations, and good thoughts to André and John. Thank you!
If you've already donated, would you be willing to find a friend who'd match your donation?
Thank you, so much, everyone! Not a day goes by that I don't hear from André about how grateful he and John and the chihuahuas are to have all of this support & love!