This past week the headline in the Fort Collins Coloradan on Wednesday, March 26th was "Park Goes Private". We immediately knew that this article was referring to the Jefferson Street Park in downtown Fort Collins. This was the park where the homeless gathered during the day and where we would go to pass out water, coffee, donuts, blessing bags, socks, hats, gloves, blankets and sleeping bags to the homeless. The article informed us that the park was officially closed as the property was sold earlier this year and the owners were making plans to build a new restaurant on the site.
We immediately wondered where the homeless people would gather now that the park is closed. The article suggested that perhaps they would gather in another park or maybe in an area along the Poudre River. As I read the article I was left with conflicted feelings. I understood the desire to make downtown Fort Collins attractive and that closing Jefferson Street Park would move the homeless out of that area and yet I felt bad for the homeless people as this is where they gathered and now they would have to find another place. I was also thinking that just because a new restaurant will be on the property where the homeless once gathered it will appear that the issue of homeless in downtown Fort Collins has been addressed but in reality it has not. Homeless people will still be living in downtown Fort Collins and they will still gather together in a specific location even though it won't be in Jefferson Street Park.
We know that Soaring Wings Ministries does not have all the answers to address the issue of homelessness in all its' totality. The issue of homelessness is a complex one and homelessness has been around for a very long time. There were homeless people in the Bible who were looked down upon by society and many of them lived out their lives in caves. I don't think there is any one person or any one organization who has the knowledge or finances to completely eliminate homelessness in Larimer County. On the other hand, I do believe that there are many people who can help at least one homeless person. As Ed often says, "It is not rocket science to help a homeless person". Homelessness is a complex issue but to help one homeless individual is not. Homeless people are human beings. They need what every other human being needs. They need someone to invest in their lives with loving care. This investment into someone's life takes time, it takes money and it also takes self sacrifice. If you have children, especially grown children, just think about the amount of time, money and love you invested into each one of your children so that they could grow up to be loving, independent, caring and successful adults. It didn't happen over night, did it? It took years and years and years of loving them even when they weren't very lovable and of caring for them when we barely had the strength to put one foot in front of the other. Just think about the money we have spent or will spend on our children when we provide them clothes, food, dental care, school field trips, helping them with their first car and never mind adding in the cost of college. I can guarantee that very few of the homeless people you see in Fort Collins have had anyone invest in their lives with genuine loving care.
It is hard to imagine, isn't it, that there are people in the word who literally have no one to care about them. I remember when I was working at Early Head Start in Concord, New Hampshire as a Home Visitor and I remember one specific visit with a single Mom on my case load. It happened to be her birthday on that day I was visiting her and her children in their home. I naively asked her if she had anything special planned for her birthday with her family. She told me that she had never had any celebration of any kind or done anything special for her birthday. Her family had never made a cake for her or given her a present or taken the time to visit her on her birthday. She told me that she had never even received a birthday card on her birthday. I was heartbroken for her. I told her that her birthday was a very special day and it should be celebrated. She didn't have a lot of money but I told her that every year on her birthday she should take the time to celebrate her birthday. Together we came up with some fun, inexpensive ways to make her birthday special and as I leaving her home after our visit together she headed into her kitchen to pack a picnic lunch. She was taking her children to the city park for an afternoon outing to celebrate her birthday.
I believe that there is nothing that has the potential to pull a person out of poverty and homelessness except genuine loving care. Eliminating homelessness requires that we invest our time and resources into the lives of homeless individuals, one at a time. We cannot look at homeless people as a group.....we need to look at each an every homeless person as an individual.
Soaring Wings Ministries does not exist to eliminate homelessness. It exits to lovingly care for homeless people as individuals and to create wholeness and an empowered future for homeless and hurting young adults through the love of Jesus. Will Soaring Wings Ministries be able to completely eliminate homeless? Absolutely not. Will we be able to make a difference in a homeless person's life to the point that they will be self sufficient and no longer be homeless? I truly believe that we will. As soon as the addition is completed we will have two individuals living here who will receive what every human being needs in order to be given a chance for success. As Ed says, "What we do here at Soaring Wings Ministries isn't rocket science". It is the act of giving individuals the genuine loving care they desperately need.
Soaring Wings Ministries
Hello from 499 Trinity Lane! Today we are so blessed to have 5 generous and hard working men outside working on the roof for the addition. In case you aren't up to speed on what the addition is all about, Soaring Wings Ministries is building an addition to house two people who are currently without a HOME or place to live. Soaring Wings Ministries started this addition with more faith than funds and every step of progress has been accomplished because of God's blessing and faithfulness.
Back in January of this year we met as a staff and decided that it was time to begin the addition. We had a fair amount of funds to begin the addition but we did not have enough funds to complete it. We decided to start with the money we had and prayed that God would provide as we moved forward. He has not failed us. The work that has been done on the addition so far has been mostly completed by volunteers. We paid for the foundation work to be completed but the rest of the labor has been done by volunteers. These volunteers have arrived from New Mexico, New Hampshire and from right here in Colorado. The volunteers come with different interests and different skill levels but they all have one thing in common. Their commonality is their willingness to use their time and skills to serve God through Soaring Wings Ministries in order to create a HOME for two homeless individuals. We know that all of the volunteers have a hundred other things that they could be doing with their time. All of our lives are busy and full and we are humbled and so grateful that they would donate a week, weekend, or a Saturday of their time to come and pound nails on the addition or to lay piping for the plumbing. Each one of the volunteers is an answer to our prayers and a testament to God's faithfulness in getting the addition built.
It really is a miracle and so very, very exciting to see the progress that is taking place each time the volunteers are here. The framing is completed and we can see how the whole addition looks now that it is laid out. Today the roof is going up. The windows are on order and the sliding glass doors have already arrived. We hope to have the rough plumbing and the entire addition enclosed before winter sets in. As of this writing, every piece of wood, every box of nails and every window has been paid for with cash. In order to be good stewards of the money that people have donated we made a decision that Soaring Wings Ministries would not take out any loan to complete the addition. As God has provided we have moved forward on the building project. As we look at the work that has been completed our hearts are filled with unspeakable joy to know that we are proceeding with no debt due to the generosity of so many volunteers and supporters from all over the country.
The progress that has been made on the addition has been done in faith and trust. We did not know where the funds would come from to reach this point and yet God has been faithful. Right now we do not know where the rest of the money will come from to complete the addition but we do know that God will provide.
During the building of the addition we have made many trips to Home Depot to buy supplies. Each trip is a deep depletion in our bank account as the cost of supplies is very expensive and it forces us to dig deep into our bank account for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Each trip of hundreds of dollars adds up to thousands of dollars over the months. When we pay the cashier for the supplies I often think "Yikes...that is soooo expensive" and then I walk out of the store with gratitude that once again we were able to pay cash for the supplies. Praises to our God!!!!!
Right now, after months of investing our funds into the addition, we are scraping the bottom of our bank account at Soaring Wings Ministries. Are we worried? No! Are we hopeful? Yes! Are we trusting God to complete this addition? 100 percent yes! Our goal is to have two homeless individuals move into the addition by the Spring of 2017. We have no idea where the money will come from to complete the addition but we know that God knows and we know that He will provide. The addition being built belongs to God and we know that He will work to bring the addition to completion. We also know that God uses His people to accomplish His work here on earth. We have a little over 400 people on our mailing list. Just one person on our mailing list can make a difference but what if all 400 people joined in to make a difference? WOW! Everyone doing a little bit can accomplish much. I was thinking if everyone on our mailing list invested in the building fund Soaring Wings Ministries would have the funds needed to complete the addition. If everyone on our mailing list donated from $50.00 to $100.00 each, this would translate to anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. So very much could be accomplished with this amount of money. The septic system could be installed. The electrical work could be completed. A furnace could be purchased along with sheet rocking the interior walls and installing plumbing fixtures. I wish that all of you reading this blog could see the amazing, amazing progress that has been made on the addition without one penny of debt. The addition is solidly built and it has also been lovingly built as each volunteer has recognized the importance of building a HOME for two human beings. A HOME so that two human beings could have a place to live. A HOME. So basic but so necessary.
The staff at Soaring Wings Ministries cherishes each and every volunteer and donor. Without the help that Soaring Wings Ministries has received from such wonderful, caring people the addition would still be a thought but instead it is so very close to becoming a completed reality. Please join us in bringing this project to completion. The need is so great as so many people are not able to afford their own place to live. Soaring Wings Ministries is able and so wanting to provide a loving, caring, Christian HOME for two individuals. We need your help to bring this building project HOME. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you are able to do and may God bless you as you reach out to help those in need.
Anita Rennells and Staff
Soaring Wings Ministries
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