As the brisk fall winds finally arrive to our downtown Winnipeg neighbourhood, even after this last quick burst of heat, it’s hard to believe the summer is already coming to an end. This last season with YWAM has been an eventful one, with September arriving putting one year under our belt at Chiara House, and the last two years to look back on with YWAM here in Winnipeg. Since it’s been awhile, I thought I’d send out a bit about how we’re doing!
YWAM Winnipeg: Prepping for Peace & Justice Internship
With the last Peace & Justice Internship ending successfully, preparation for the next one in March has already begun. I’ve been in charge of all the graphic design elements to promote the internship, so assure we can bring in as many people as possible to explore the justice and peace of Christ in the West End with us. I’ve now gotten all of our posters for the internship prepared and designed, and started sending out word on social media. I’ve been so glad to be able to use my design abilities to promote something like this for the past two years while in Winnipeg.
With the internship coming up in March of next year, I’d greatly appreciate it if you’d pray that all those who are supposed to be involved will hear about it, and have an opportunity to see what Christ has for them in fostering justice in the world around us.
The beginning of September marks one year of our involvement as caretakers and supportive members at Chiara House! It’s been a great year of figuring out community support and involvement in the building with a bunch of great people. In fact, since the opening of the building, all of those who moved in have stayed there for the whole year! Since many of the ills individuals living close to the poverty line deal with revolved around instability of circumstance, it’s been great to see that we’ve been able to provide a stable home for all those living in the building for the past year.
As well as caretaking for the building, being in charge of all the clean up and relations with tenants, we’ve been glad to host a few events throughout the week with those in the buildings. We’ve continued our Monday evening shared meal, and are glad that now around ¾ of the members in the building attend to share a meal together, talk about life, share in each others’ struggles, and offer support as a community to one another. As well Delia, a member of Little Flowers Community, has started a game time every Wednesday to get people in the building together. We’ve had tons of fun gathering around board games to share time together every Wednesday afternoon.
Another element of life in the building I’m glad has been developed more recently is our Emergency Suite. In our basement at Chiara House, we have a one bedroom size suite intended for use by guests of Little Flowers members, but also and especially for people who are in need of emergency housing. This is a huge need in a community like ours, where not only is there a housing shortage, but landlords and property managers can be less than kind to tenants, and many people of left on the street with gaps between housing arrangements. Our emergency suite offers a safe, comfortable place to stay while housing options are looked into for longer term. For many people who end up on the street, even just for short stints, often finding a safe place for the night, or work for the day to get into a better situation, can take up all their time, leaving them unable to find long term solutions to their lack of housing. It’s our hope that by providing short term emergency housing, we can at least guarantee a safe place to sleep, so people in that desperate circumstance can focus their resources into finding a better circumstance, instead of maintaining a bad one.
We’ve been developing the Emergency Suite for frequent use, and have already had a handful of guests stay with us, both friends of Little Flowers, and those connected through social resources who needed a place to stay. We of course face the inevitable kinks of figuring out how to make a setup like this work for both sides fairly, but those who’ve needed housing and gotten it have been incredibly grateful. A couple people have said staying at Chiara House short term has saved their lives and they were so glad to be able to stay.
Where We Are, Where We’re Going
Right now, Joelle is beginning her last year of school at The University of Manitoba, as well as working developing magazines here in Winnipeg for Fanfare Media Group. We’ve been caretakers at Chiara House for a year, members of Little Flowers for about two years now, and I look back on close to 5 years with YWAM from my first staff commitment in San Francisco. It’s crazy to look back on the years and consider where we’ve come from back then. My years in YWAM have been times of great opportunity to serve Jesus in spreading the message of the Kingdom, as well as meet and serve people I would have never seen or come in contact with without where I was. I’ve been eternally grateful to have been involved in all the capacities I’ve been in, from providing designed postcards to raise awareness of unreached peoples while in Colorado, to living among the poor and homeless in San Francisco, now to spending time in community with those in our neighbourhood here in Winnipeg. It’s been a crazy ride these past years.
With all this to look back on, and my two years with YWAM Winnipeg coming to a close, with the seasons changing, I’ll be officially leaving YWAM for the time being. Who knows what the future holds, but for now, this closes the chapter on a time in my life I’ve been incredibly blessed to experience, and so blessed by the support of those who’ve rallied behind me. Obviously, this isn’t an end to everything we’ve been doing. Jo & I are still caretakers at Chiara House, and continue to be support team members and involved with Little Flowers Community. As well, your continued prayers are always appreciated as we navigate this new season, as well as all the fun of permanent residency paperwork. Thank you all so much for being a part of this crazy ride!