From August, 2009

August Green Room Recap & Next Steps

Sunday’s Green Room provide an opportunity to determine the support coming out of the 1,287 event, review current initiatives and set a couple new things in motion.

We spent a little time covering the events of the past month to include:

  • 1,287 Event
  • 1,287 Survey Results
  • The other activities that took place while

    Shear Kindness at Kid’s Blitz

    On August 3rd and 5th, the Samaritan Community Center and the United Way of NW Arkansas held their annual back to school kid’s blitz to help disadvantaged children in our communities get ready to head back to school fully prepared.  In total over 1,000 kids were helped!

    News Article in Benton County Daily Record:  Ready for School – Backpack Give Away Gets Students Excited for Class

    This year Shear Kindness was asked to help coordinate haircuts for the kids and the suport from local stylists and salons was overwhelming.  In total an amazing 230 haircuts was provided!  These women gave of their time and resources to give to their community and for that we are so thankful.

    Here is a short video of Shear Kindness at Kid’s Blitz

    An incredible thank you to those stylists and businesses that made it all possible…you are all amazing!  We are continually humbled by your hearts for serving our communities…thank you.

    From Benton County:

    • Mia Bella: Chandra Perkins, Sandra Brodie
    • Capps Salon: Robin Capps, Casey Barrows
    • Shear Heaven: Julie Kiehn, Connie Delphon
    • Bella Mia: April Still

    From Washington County:

    • The Parlor:  Kathy Harris, Tammi Sloan, Sandra Pritchard, Macey Brooks
    • Studio 8:  Ali Cole, Rachel Green, Nicole Shipley
    • Freshair

    (please forgive us if we left any names off)

A day at home…

It was a fairly cool morning despite it being August, so it was refreshing to spend some time at “home”.

It had been a couple months since my last 2nd Saturday out at Restoration Village and the Children’s Advocacy Center, so I was anxious to sink my hands into the soil and do some good honest work.

Spending the day at Restoration Village is always a special treat for many reasons…

First, it’s where I get to work and serve and not have to be responsible for coordinating and preparing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy those things; however, because we’ve been going out there for so long everyone knows where everything is and what needs to be done.  So, please excuse my selfishness.

Second, I always get the biggest hug and smile from David Engle (Exec Director of Restoration Village), so much so that I’m tempted to drive back out tomorrow just for that.  I know we are “safe” there and I truly enjoy the time sitting on a step somewhere listening to one of my heroes.  A man (along with his beautiful wife Beverly) who has given his life in the service of others who need a place to heal.

David’s years of experience are always a steady guide for me and for the rest of the Cobblestone team.  We started going out there before the idea of Cobblestone was even thought of, so he knows where we started and is there to make sure we stay on track.

Third, it reminds me.  It reminds me why we do what we do.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at 8:30 this morning, the parking lot at the Children’s Advocacy Center was a little too full.  On a Saturday morning, that means that there was a child in there who was needing help from evils we can not even imagine.  However, to know that they have made it to the CAC, I know love, hope and healing will triumph.

I took a few pictures of the new memorial garden where statues are being placed for each child that has been killed in Benton County from abuse.  It’s not easy to walk around that small circle of names.  It’s not easy because it doesn’t make sense.  My question to David on this morning was similar to many mornings before, “how does this happen?”.  After 40 years, he still doesn’t have answers, but that hasn’t stopped he and Beverly from doing everything they can to prevent it and restore those that are broken.

It was a sweet time to be with my family, and our friends from the very beginning.  I may never know how to explain it, but that place has something that I can not explain within my understanding on this side of eternity.

We’ll be out there again next month to support the 5K race, so we hope you can make it.  And, if you can find some time in the coming months to sink your hands into the dirt next to mine, I’ll share some stories about this place of refuge.  However, I know David will be there also, and everyone should have the chance to meet him and let him show you around.  You’ll never be the same.

Great day…can’t wait until next time.

August Fayetteville Laundry Love Project

From Ryan Rusch…

Another successful night at LLP. When I pulled into the parking lot of the Britewash Laundromat, I thought “oh no, we’re not going to be able to do all of these people’s laundry.” I am not sure if the word has spread or if the slow economy is causing more folks to attend, but I have never seen so many people there.

I have noticed a few things in the last couple of months about the people who come to LLP. People have begun to open up and tell their stories. People have truly been thankful for the opportunity to come and wash their clothes, and for the first time I have heard struggling people ask why we do this and how THEY can help others.

I wanted to bring to light a couple needs….

One lady I spoke with just recently lost her job as an outpatient nurse. She has 4 of her 12 kids living with her and for the first time in her life is facing the possibility of becoming homeless. Due to the loss of her job and unpaid child support from the father, she is expecting to get evicted from the home she rents early this week. Possibly Monday. She has been frantically trying to find a job, but has run out of time. I understand she has paid the majority of her rent, but lacks $150 to get her by till the next month when she is confident she will have found work. If anyone is willing to help, she could use it.

Another need is diapers. Their are several babies and young kids running around the laundromat with filthy clothes, barefeet and soiled diapers. It will break your heart.

Thanks to Monte Ne Chicken in Rogers for donating enough chicken and “fixings” to feed all that came. It was delicious and everyone should take their family there to eat soon.

Also, thank you to all the volunteers from Colgate Palmolive and the toiletry care packs that were handed out. Thank you to Rubbermaid for donating the laundry baskets to everyone. And thank you to all the others that make this work month to month.

By the end of the night we were able to wash every load of clothes, with 1 roll of quarters to spare.


Follow up note…

We’ve been in contact with the lady mentioned above and the needs will be met.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Story – World Garden Meal project born from free bread

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Story by Evie Bland – World Garden Meal project born from free bread

BENTONVILLE — Truckloads of fresh fruit and vegetables once bound for the garbage now form the basis of meals for hundreds of financially struggling Northwest Arkansas residents.

What started with a few loaves of banana bread made from brown spotty bananas discarded by a produce supplier quickly ballooned into a plan to serve 5,000 free meals a week. The plan largely relies on donations, volunteer labor and products that would have otherwise been thrown away, said Rick Boosey, owner of the World Garden Restaurant in Bentonville.

"We’re doing our little piece," Boosey said. "We found a gap in the system that’s been there since the food service industry began."

The main ingredient in the low-cost meals is produce discarded by suppliers because it’s too close to its expiration date to distribute to restaurants, which require about five days of guaranteed freshness.

Out of his Lowell-based warehouse, about the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, produce supplier James Urich discards enough produce to fill a 15-passenger van each week.

"It’s close-dated, and we can’t sell it," he said.

In the past, Urich has donated some fresh produce to homeless day centers and food pantries. But because it wasn’t fresh for long, much of it ended up in the trash.

Cooking the raw ingredients and preserving them in individual portions ensures they’ll be useful for an extended period of time, opening up a stream of ingredients that once seemed inaccessible, Boosey said.

"This is low-hanging fruit,"he said. "It’s easy."

The plan started when Molly Rawn, development director for the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, approached Boosey in the spring for a small donation.

The restaurant, which opened in November 2008, was still struggling to turn a profit during the recession, he said. In the first weeks it was open, the former Microsoft account manager and first-time restaurant owner changed his prices so many times he eventually ripped down his permanent menu boards, coating the walls with chalkboard paint instead to allow for easy adjustments.

Still, Boosey and his wife Cindy wanted to help. After giving a small pot of leftover soup to a family friend struggling with medical bills, the couple considered taking advantage of other remnants of the food service industry.

Urich told them about his discarded produce, noting an abundance of bananas he discarded when they started to brown, and World Garden employees started baking dozens of loaves of banana bread for the women at the shelter each week.

Urich started flash-freezing his brown bananas and provided hundreds of pounds to the restaurant. Volunteer bakers stepped forward and employees worked off the clock to package the loaves.

"Things just multiplied," Cindy Boosey said.

Eventually, there was too much banana bread for the shelter, and the Booseys started selling it in the restaurant and at the Bentonville Farmers Market for $5 a loaf, contributing all proceeds to the organization.

War Eagle Mill began donating 100 pounds of organic wheat flour from its historic grist mill each week and a Washington County egg farmer started providing eggs, leaving very few ingredients for the restaurant to supply.

"It was amazing," Rawn said. "We didn’t have to make a plan or study the idea. It just happened."

This success motivated those involved to create a plan to meetthe nutritional needs of a growing number of people struggling during the recession.

The Booseys started taking an entire van load of discarded produce from the warehouse each week, making soups, stir fries and dishes capable of feeding about 400 people. They give much of the food to the women’s shelter, allowing clients in crisis situations a break from preparing their own meals.

On Friday, they picked up crates of fresh blueberries, bags of potatoes and boxes of large tomatoes.

"It’s like Iron Chef," Rick Boosey said of the Food Network television show where chefs are challenged to improvise dishes with surprise ingredients. "I call back from the warehouse and tell them what I’ve got and say, ‘What are we going to make with this ?’"

The restaurant teamed with the Cobblestone Project, a service ministry for homeless and low-income people, to distribute the food as the project grows.

"The size of this really depends on how many volunteers we find," said Mike Rusch, cofounder of the Cobblestone Project.

The group will hold a meeting this month to determine how to distribute meals once the 5, 000-meal target is reached.

Providing individual servings of food will allow workers to quickly build relationships and gain trust with homeless people when they go out to offer assistance, Rusch said.

"We know that the road to relationships, especially in the South, travels through food," he said.

The ministry also plans todistribute the food through other organizations and at its outreach events, including "Laundry Love," a night of free washes at a coin-operated laundry, and "Sheer Kindness," which provides free haircuts to families.

"There’s a definite need for assistance above and beyond what’s been needed in the past," Rusch said.

Organizations that provide meals and emergency grocery assistance to low-income clients have strained to keep up with a combination of increased demand from new clients and decreased giving from longtime donors.

The Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, which has a capacity of about 30, has had a 50 percent increase of clients over the last year, executive director Angie Albright said. The shelter hosted 96 women and children in the first six months of 2008, a number that grew to 196 in the first half of 2009.

"It would be nice to think that it’s just because we are doing a good job of reaching out to the community, but that’s not the case," she said. "There’s more people in crisis and it’s because of the economy."

The Rogers-based Office of Human Concern, which assists families in Benton, Carroll and Madison counties, has seen an increase of people seeking emergency food supplies, executive director Al West said. About 40 percent of those seeking the services this summer have been first-time users, compared with about 20 percent last summer, he said.

Rick Boosey would like to see the idea expand to other restaurants. He has a button on a cash register that allows customers to donate to food providers when they order a meal, and he spreads the idea to generate momentum and excitement from others.

"There’s 1,200 homeless people in Northwest Arkansas who are hungry," he said. "We’re a tiny little restaurant. If we all gang together, we can make that go away."

Information on the project is available from Rusch at 1287@cobblestoneproject.org.

To contact this reporter:

eblad@arkansasonline.com

Northwest Arkansas, Pages 7, 14 on 08/03/2009

SPOTLIGHT LAUNDRY LOVE PROJECT : Project designed for clean starts

SPOTLIGHT LAUNDRY LOVE PROJECT : Project designed for clean starts

Ryan Rusch says the aim of the Cobblestone Project is “to have a community without needs.” It’s a lofty ideal for an effort whose name connotes a kind of street.

But like an old neighborhood, Cobblestone is backed by an ever-growing number of hands reaching out to care for people, and minds trying to connect the people who need help with the organizations and resources available to those in need….(read more)

For more information on how to get involved in Laundry Love Project, visit our Laundry Love page or send an email to LLP@cobblestoneproject.org

The Morning News – Area Residents ‘Sleep Out’ For Homelessness

The Morning News – Area Residents ‘Sleep Out’ For Homelessness (By Bettina Lehovec)

(images property of The Morning News)

FAYETEVILLE — Judy Daniels was evicted from her trailer in April, after the landlord neglected to pay the lot rent, she said.

She’s spent the last three months in a tent in south Fayetteville, one of an estimated 1,287 homeless people in Washington and Benton counties.

The soft-spoken Fayetteville native, 53, shared her story at a rally for homelessness July 24.

“I just want people to know my story,” she said. “I have a good heart. I try to help people whenever I can. I’m legally blind. I can’t see to work.” (read more)