Monday, December 10, 2018

Homeless in Hastings

    Image result for how can you worship a homeless man on sunday

  Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
    the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
    The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
    the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, 
“I will follow you wherever you go.”  
 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; 
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Luke 9:57-58

 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, 
and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

Matthew 26:36 

We will likely get a little sentimental singing about how Jesus began his earthly life in a stable this season without much thought for the homeless this Christmas, nor will we as we come to Holy Week and Easter in the Spring. Yet Jesus spent a fair amount of his life "sleeping rough." to use the British term. The night before his crucifixion he was in the public olive grove in Jerusalem where pilgrims who couldn't afford lodging would sleep.

I was pleased to see a lengthy article by Luke Hendry in the Belleville Intelligencer about the homelessness survey conducted in this area earlier in the year. The study was commissioned by Hastings Country with Bridge Street United Church and the Community Development Council of Quinte conducting it. 

The photo below shows Steve van de Hoef, the food ministries coordinator at Bridge St. who worked with Tanya Dutton of the Poverty Roundtable Hastings Prince Edward,  along with Ian Sutherland, Ruth Ingersoll, Carmela Ruberto and Dino Marchiori and a group of  volunteers. I teased Steve about his wistful "homeless in the alley" pose, but he was the right guy to have a key role in this work with a strong statistical background.

 In the article Steve notes:

“Most people are sleeping with a roof over their heads. It’s just not theirs,” van de Hoef said in an interview. He co-ordinated the survey with Tanya Dutton of the Poverty Roundtable Hastings Prince Edward.
Half were staying temporarily with others, while about 21 per cent were in transitional housing.
But 15 per cent were in an emergency shelter or in motel or hotel rooms provided by an agency on an emergency basis.
Fourteen per cent had no shelter at all.

The survey and the article are important reminders that homelessness is not just a big city problem. It may be "hidden in plain sight" in smaller communities but it is real. I encourage you to read the entire article. We should all be grateful for the involvement of Bridge St in this important initiative.

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Homeless Jesus sculpture -- Timothy Schmalz

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