Lately we have had not had our usual Colorado weather of bright sunshine and clear blue skies. Instead we have had days of gray, almost white skies, temperatures in the 20's with snow and light drizzle. It has been perfect days for grant writing and general office work but I am not happy about those tasks.
If you wonder what we have been doing at Soaring Wings Ministries lately I can tell you in one word. Grants. It is a slow, time consuming process and many of you know that grant writing, computer work and general office work is not what I enjoy doing. There is no joy for me in researching information on the computer or even sitting at a computer. I get it done because it needs to be done but I would much rather be outside and quite often, towards the end of the day after being inside all day long, you can find me and others putting on shoes, coats, hats and gloves as we head outside to clear our heads. There is a saying in our house "I need to go outside so I can clear my head". Even our 4 year old granddaughter, Payton, understands what that means. It means that we've had enough sitting and thinking. It is time to go outside to move our bodies and to clear our brains doing something fun and active.
Even though I do not like working on a computer or researching information, I have to admit that I have found some of the statistics on homelessness quite unbelievable. For example, did you know that according to the U.S. Census date, Colorado's poverty rate has risen steadily since the late 1990's. That means that instead of people moving forward in life, more people are falling further and further behind in being able to provide for themselves and their families. Did you know that Fort Collins, Colorado is one of the cities with the least amount of available affordable housing in the entire United States? The average rental rate for an apartment within 10 miles of Fort Collins is $1, 245 a month. There is no way that families, especially a single parent, working at a minimum wage job can afford any housing in Fort Collins. How about this statistic for the Poudre School District in Larimer County of Colorado? There are approximately 1,000 students in the Poudre School District who are homeless every year. That is one thousand, ONE THOUSAND, children with no place to call home or at the very least a safe, adequate place to live.
It isn't only Colorado that has a problem with homelessness and poverty. Did you know that in the United States there are approximately 3.5 million people who are homeless? When I read this statistic I wanted to wrap my brain around 3.5 million a little bit more. How much is 3.5 million people? Well to put this number in perspective the State of Connecticut has a population of approximately 3.6 million people. To make this statistic of homelessness in the United States even more sobering, 1.35 million of the 3.5 million people are children! Again, I had to understand what this number of 1.35 million children looked like, so my research led me to understand that the population of Rhode Island is approximately 1 million people. No matter how you look at it 3.5 million homeless people and 1.35 million homeless children is a HUGE number.
My experience working with low income children and families tells me that having an unstable home or no home at all negatively affects children in so many ways. You don't need a degree in Social Work to know that children need stable homes to thrive and to grow into healthy adults, it is common sense. But what are we suppose to do with these staggering statistics? What are we suppose to do about 3.5 million people being homeless and 1.35 million children being homeless? Those numbers are overwhelming. Is it really possible to make a difference in these enormous numbers of homeless people?
I know that when I am confronted with a huge task that feels overwhelming the best way for me to tackle it is to break it down into smaller more manageable steps. Have an entire house to paint on the outside? How about breaking it down to getting one side of the house done. Have a mountain of paperwork sitting on your desk or dining room table that needs to be dealt with? How about first organizing it into folders marked important, file, and the best folder of all.....trash! Have a dirty house that hasn't been cleaned in months? How about tackling one room at a time? Need to lose 40 pounds? How about losing 1 pound at a time? Have 3.5 million people that need a place to live? How about housing 2 of them at a time? Two people out of 3.5 million people......it doesn't seems like very much.....UNLESS YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE TWO OUT OF THE 3.5 MILLION!
We know that as an organization there is no way that Soaring Wings Ministries can completely eliminate homelessness in the United States; however, that does not excuse us from not doing what we can to help people in need. As a Christian Non-Profit we are called to do something about poverty and homelessness. Personally, as a Christian, I have a responsibility to respond in someway to those in poverty around me. My faith in Jesus Christ calls me to action to address the issue of poverty even if it is a staggering number. James 2:15-17 says "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead".
Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Words are so easy, but action is hard. Action takes time, effort and sacrifice. Action demands something of us. It demands that we get involved and getting involved can be unpleasant and uncomfortable at times. Sitting at the computer researching statistics to include with our grant applications is an unpleasant task for me, I actually dread having to spend time on the computer, but I am called to action to help the homeless and poor in Northern Colorado and submitting grant applications is part of the process. We need to raise the funds so we can finish the addition that will house two homeless individuals. I am called to action....called to do something about people living in poverty and children living without homes.
I know that everyone reading this blog wishes they could do more to reduce the statistic of 3.5 million people being homeless. It seems like an impossible task but the efforts of caring people, like you, reaching out to those in need multiplies quickly and has a dramatic and lifelong impact on those in need. Yes, the number of homeless people is overwhelming. 3.5 million is a huge number but that huge statistic should not be an excuse for doing nothing. If anything it should move us to work even harder to help even one person. One human, you, being helping another human being, a homeless person.......that is how the statistic of 3.5 million is reduced.
So what can you be doing to help those in need? How are you called to action? If you would like some ideas on how you can reach out to those in need please contact us. There are so many things you can do. If you would like to serve those in need here in Northern Colorado through Soaring Wings Ministries please let us know as there is always plenty that needs to be done. If you have any skills for completing an addition and would like to volunteer your time and skills to build a home for 2 homeless individuals we would love it if you could come and help. If you want to make a donation to the building fund at Soaring Wings Ministries we would greatly appreciate the donation. We are currently raising funds for a roof, a furnace, plumbing materials, electrical work and septic work. 3.5 million people. So many homeless people and children. Don't get overwhelmed by the number. Break it down into manageable parts....one person, you, helping one other person in need.
I hope that you can take a few minutes from your day to respond to my blog. Let us know how you are answering your call to action and helping those in need.
While I have spent the morning working on grants and doing office work the wind has died down, the sky is now bright blue and the sun is shining. Enough computer work for one day. Time for me to go outside to clear my head.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
499 Trinity Lane
Wellington, Colorado 80549
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries