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Archive for January, 2010

>Good days

>This week is Homelessness Awareness week, and yesterday was the day of Project Homeless Connect. Several organizations came together to put on a one day event which provided people with sort of a one stop shop for many services. Haircuts (by far the most popular!), clothes, food, legal services, child services, bike repair, etc. At the Salcido, we conducted surveys all day to get a point in time picture of homelessness in Missoula.

My favorite part of the day was one fellow of ours finally got into housing. After months on the housing voucher waiting list, Missoula Housing Authority had found and apartment for him. The lease was signed, his electricity was turned on, but before they would give him the keys to the apartment, he had to pay $41 for renter’s insurance. I’m not sure if he is on any supplemental insurance, but even if that was the case, pay day would be a week away. He came to us asking if we could help him with the money, but we have no funds for that. We sent him to the Poverello, who sent him to the case worker at Partnership Health Center, who was out of town. So they sent him to Project Homeless Connect. To make a long story short, he ended up running into the mayor who simply offered to pay the $41!
I can’t tell you how excited he was. He was practically jumping up and down. Unfortunately, this was finalized at 4:45 yesterday and he didn’t have time to get to the rental office to pay and get into his apartment that night. Today, reality was sinking in a little more. Ironically, although he has renter’s insurance, he owns nothing to insure. Not a bed, not a chair, not even a roll of toilet paper.
It’s a long road from homeless to self sufficient, and there are many steps along the way.

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>Curious

>I’m just curious…I know there is a link to my blog on the jvcnorthwest.org website. I was wondering if anyone is reading this who is considering joining JVC, or interested in JVC Northwest. Let me know! I’d love to answer any questions you might have.

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>Jesus

>So one of the major philosophies of service is treat everyone as you would treat Christ. “Whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.”

That’s very nice, but Jesus doesn’t get drunk too often and piss in your coffee pot.
Just saying.
It’s not hard to picture people to be Christ when you are handing them a pair of gloves, or helping them fill out a job application. It’s harder to picture that when they are cussing in your face. Or about to hit someone. Or polishing off a bottle of vodka in front of you, and then becoming incontinent on your couch.

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>Haiti

>
Good news followed by very sad news. As many of you know, Haiti is very dear to my heart after going there several times when I was in college. The Catholic Campus Ministry at William and Mary is twinned with College de Monsingor Decoste in Thomonde, Haiti.

I miss Haiti sometimes. The warm sunshine, the way the wind blows and dirt and dust find their way into every crevice of your body. Occasionally I will catch a whiff of charcoal which reminds me of women squatting beside the meals they were attempting to sell on the streets. The smell of urine, too, will occasionally catch my nose in such a way that I can only picture the crowded streets of Port au Prince.
The devastation of the earthquake is very sad, and very real, and I wonder if the extent of the damage could have been prevented. This was a country where clean water was already a precious resource, where this is not the first time there will be riots over food shortages. U.S. troops are arriving to a logistical nightmare, one that has been centuries in the making.
In a way, we don’t mind poverty. We accept it as a reality of life. Certain countries, like Haiti, will always be poor. After all, Jesus reminded us that the poor we will always have with us. We forget that there are people and countries who need dramatic aid, immediate action, and constant prayers now. We forget the urgency of poverty.
We lose sight of what it means to be radical. And by radical, I mean follow a God who would as soon eat with “sinners and tax collectors” as the high and mighty; Skid Row residents as Wall Street execs. We forget what it would be like to throw up an angry fist at the world and yell “Why does it have to be like this?” Why do we have to live in a world where people are forced to choose between food and medicine? To eat clay bricks or nothing, as many children in Haiti do? Why do we have to live in a world with sweatshops, slave trades, and domestic violence? Why does it have to be like this?
I don’t think it does. I think things can change. Slowly, surely, slightly. Doubt creeps in easily, and even as I write this I want to type “We will never see an end to world poverty.” But if we live like we will see that end, if we live like we have a choice to live in a different kind of world, how much closer will we get?
Haitian Prayer
O Lespri San, desaan sou nou. Nou gen yon misyon pou Ayiti.
O Lespri San, desaan sou nou. Nou gen yon misyon pou lemond.
O Holy Spirit, descend on us. We have a mission for Haiti.
O Holy Spirit, descend on us. We have a mission for the world.

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>He asked…

>I said yes!

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>Vacation!

>Sort of. I managed to work my schedule out so I get 4 days off this weekend. I’m still working 40+ hours on either side, but I’m super excited to have a block of time off. Winter is rough to be a JV. Some how, you are just so much more connected to the environment. In Spokane, I had to walk home from work several times in the snow when the buses weren’t running. (John and Jon had to walk every day, so not complaining!) We’re cooped up inside a lot more, meaning (usually) more roommate quarrels. And work is obviously much more draining. We’re busier, people are more tired.

So this weekend I’m head off to Spokane with John. Even though Spokane wasn’t my favorite place to live, I can’t wait to see all of my old favorite spots. Natural Start coffee shop (the BEST coffee), Huckleberry beer from the Steam Plant, and of course, the old house.
Can’t wait!

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>
1. I’ve not worn long underwear twice in the past month.

2. The steam that comes out of my thermos freezes into ice crystals on the lid.
3. The local lingerie store features a mannequin wearing a sweater and a scarf.
4. The lowest temperature recorded in the lower 48 was recorded in Montana. (-70F!)
5. The newspaper always features ads for “remote start keys” so you can start your car before you leave your house.
6. We open the dining room in the shelter for people to sleep in when it gets in the 20s, regardless of capacity.
7. Ice forms on the inside (inside!) of our windows when it gets in the teens or below. Literally, one of our bedroom windows was completely covered with ice.
8. According to Wikipedia, the name for Missoula comes for the Salish word for the Clark Fork River, which means “Place of freezing water.”
Only 6 more months to spring!
[Full disclosure: That picture was taken in BC, not Montana. But..close enough.]

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