Our friend and long-time volunteer Len Ringel passed away in a Hospice in California on Sunday, October 19. He was in his eighties. Len was an artist and a gardener and a man who loved ideas. He enjoyed challenging his friends with concepts that were profound and well off the beaten path. He learned of the Home Van when Sh’mal Ellenberg, our chaplain, gave a talk at the Unitarian Church. Our Unitarian friends have given us many gifts over the years, but best of all was our friend Len. He had a loving heart and, as a seasoned father and grandfather, took a special interest in very young people in the homeless community, doing a good bit of individual outreach. Len, we love you and we miss you.
We are doing Christmas differently this year. United Church of Gainesville is donating 100 Christmas stockings to the Home Van, and three other groups in the community have pledged another 125. With the number of people we serve reduced by Grace Market Place, we have enough Christmas stockings and will not be doing a stocking drive this year. Instead, we are encouraging the community to do their Christmas outreach at Grace Market Place. I don’t yet know about any specific plans for Christmas at Grace, or requests, but will pass this information along to you as soon as I get it. In the meantime, there is no reason that groups and individuals can’t initiate their own Christmas plans for Grace, clearing them with John and Theresa as need be. It would be wonderful to have the first Christmas at Grace and Dignity Village be very special.
HUNGER AWARENESS MONTH
November is National Hunger Awareness Month. The Alachua County Commission for the Homeless and Hungry have requested that members of the community write letters to the editor this month, elucidating their own awareness and insights into hunger in our community, and any ideas about what we as a community need to do about it. There is an excellent overview of this problem in an article about Bread of the Mighty Food Bank in today’s Gainesville Sun: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20141026/ARTICLES/141029776/1184?Title=Bread-of-the-Mighty-helps-provide-meals-for
MEET THE AUTHOR!
Marti Losten, long-time member of the homeless community, has written three romance novels and published two of them! I am so proud of her – there are no words to describe it. I’ve known Marti for 20 years. The old timers back in Vermont used to say, of someone who had a long, hard struggle, “They’ve been through hell and high water with their ears sticking out.” That would be a fair description of what Marti has been through. Marti is one of those people who never give up. Sustained by her profound faith that there is a loving God who is always on her side, she has gotten up and climbed back on the horse no matter how many times she was thrown off. Marti is both a resident and a volunteer at Grace Market Place and you can catch up with her there if you would like to buy a book from her. They are ten dollars a piece.
A STORY FROM DIGNITY VILLAGE
Last week I ran into my friend ‘Aaron’ and his wife at the Texaco. They were both riding bikes with nifty little carts fastened to the back. Aaron told me, smiling so widely his face was about to crack open, that he has built a beautiful campsite with an actual wooden shelter made from scrounged materials. He has also purchased a generator and now has a heater, an electric light, and a little DVD player so they can play videos from the library. This is the magic of having stability in one’s life. They can eat a nice dinner, go home to a warm bed, and watch a movie. Such an evening, familiar to us, is really a miracle straight from heaven, we just don’t often notice that the way the homeless folks do.
GOOD NEWS FROM WILLISTON ROAD
Six people from the Williston Road community are in the process of moving into housing. Two couples have found employment sufficient to rent an apartment, and two are veterans who have been assisted through the HUD VASH program. Williston Road, although it is not a legally designated camping place, has been there long enough to become a relatively stable community with excellent campsites, some self-governance, and supportive relationships with members of the housed community. Thus, many of them are also on an ascending octave.
It’s the time of year when we pass out many mylar blankets, so we welcome these to be donated. A good online site for buying them:
Peace and blessings,
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, mylar emergency blankets, bottled water, Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, batteries, and games. Call 352-372-4825 to arrange for drop off. Financial donations to the Home Van should be in the form of checks made out to Citizens for Social Justice, Inc., earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, or can be made online at http://homevan.blogspot.com/
THE HOMEVAN IS A PROJECT OF CITIZENS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, INC. (FDACSREGISTRATION #CH35643). A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE.REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.