From January, 2011

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“Merry Christmas to Me” …a story from NWA Homeless Census

We asked a few of the people who helped conduct the 2011 NWA Homeless Census to share their experience.

This is from Ryan Riley…

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I was looking forward to helping out with the survey and was originally supposed to do a shift at lunchtime at 7 Hills on Friday.  At the training meeting, Kevin Fitzpatrick asked if I’d be able to come down and go out to the various camps in Fayetteville early Friday morning as well.  Going to 7 Hills was one thing, but I wasn’t sure what to think about actually going out into the woods.  That made things much more “real” for me.

As we walked up on the first tents we found, I was incredibly nervous.  It was 5:30 in the morning, pitch black dark, we were in police cars and we were essentially going into these people’s homes to wake them up and ask them questions.  The first tents we came across were empty, so we hoped they’d sheltered somewhere overnight.  As we looked around the place, I didn’t really know what to think.  Shock is probably a good word.

We ended up finding 4 people in a couple of tents a bit farther down the road and, to my surprise, they were more than happy to talk with us, even though we’d woken them up.  We continued on and found more camps, but didn’t find many people “home.”  I’m hoping that means they found warmer shelter for the night.

A few different things really struck me and, quite simply, made me extremely sad.

One of these was when Officer Sarah parked us at one of the camps and we were literally right across the road from a house I lived in while a student at the U of A.  Right across the street.  I couldn’t help but wonder if someone had been living in those trees the whole time I lived there and I never noticed.

Another is shown in the attached photo.  The occupant of one of the tents we found had decorated for Christmas.  On a tree by the tent they’d nailed a bicycle reflector to a tree and written “Merry Christmas To Me” on it.  I think that one affected several of us, since I saw a few of us take a photo of it.

I was looking forward to helping out with the survey and was originally supposed to do a shift at lunchtime at 7 Hills on Friday. At the training meeting, Kevin Fitzpatrick asked if I’d be able to come down and go out to the various camps in Fayetteville early Friday morning as well. Going to 7 Hills was one thing, but I wasn’t sure what to think about actually going out into the woods. That made things much more “real” for me.

As we walked up on the first tents we found, I was incredibly nervous. It was 5:30 in the morning, pitch black dark, we were in police cars and we were essentially going into these people’s homes to wake them up and ask them questions. The first tents we came across were empty, so we hoped they’d sheltered somewhere overnight. As we looked around the place, I didn’t really know what to think. Shock is probably a good word.

We ended up finding 4 people in a couple of tents a bit farther down the road and, to my surprise, they were more than happy to talk with us, even though we’d woken them up. We continued on and found more camps, but didn’t find many people “home.” I’m hoping that means they found warmer shelter for the night.

A few different things really struck me and, quite simply, made me extremely sad.

One of these was when Officer Sarah parked us at one of the camps and we were literally right across the road from a house I lived in while a student at the U of A. Right across the street. I couldn’t help but wonder if someone had been living in those trees the whole time I lived there and I never noticed.

Another is shown in the attached photo. The occupant of one of the tents we found had decorated for Christmas. On a tree by the tent they’d nailed a bicycle reflector to a tree and written “Merry Christmas To Me” on it. I think that one affected several of us, since I saw a few of us take a photo of it.

Lastly, I saw a woman with 3 kids, ages 5, 3 and 2. The 5 year old was a girl and reminded me a lot of my daughter, also 5. She was wearing a cheetah-print coat, just like my daughter, and was also wearing a shirt that my daughter has. I was extremely glad that I got to end that interview when the mother answered the “Where did you sleep last night?” question with “my house.” They were just there for lunch.

I’m still trying to decide what I feel about all of it. On the one hand I’m, again, just sad. On the other hand, I’m optimistic that things will get better and that’s the point.

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Thanks to Ryan for sharing his experience. The results of the 2011 NWA Homeless Census will be out soon, and the work that everyone did to collect the information will be vital to continuing the efforts of caring for the homeless people in our community.

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Shear Kindness at Restoration Village & Havenwood

Shear Kindness was at it again on Jan 17th and 18th teaming up with the Junior League of NW Arkansas to serve the women and children of Restoration Village and Havenwood.

The smiles say it all!!

It was amazing to hear the women open up so quickly and share glimpses of their life story as they got their hair cut. The whole “salon environment” even when it is created somewhere else just lends itself to conversations about life.

We love taking that opportunity to listen and to make those women and their sweet children feel beautiful and special.

A big “Thank You!” to stylists Michelle Fraker, Tammie Cavness and Chandra Perkins.

We hope to team up with Junior League again soon!

If you would like more information on either how to get involved in future Shear Kindness events or be the recipient of any event, please visit the Shear Kindness initiative page for more information.

Cobblestone Project

January Cobblestone Project Update

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The Farm

The 2011 season for The Farm is underway!

It is hard to believe the opportunities that have presented themselves over the past few months and we are truly excited about what is ahead.

We are excited to announce that the Cobblestone Project Farm is moving to FayettevilleNew Heights Church in Fayetteville has graciously donated the use of 10 acres of their land in West Fayetteville to be the new home of the farm.

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This move will greatly expand the scope of The Farm to include:  expanded food production capacity, work share programs to create commerce & jobs, agricultural education partnerships & a large increas

e in the ability to serve the under-resourced all over NW Arkansas.  We are extremely grateful to the people of New Heights Church for their vision.  We could not dream this big without your vision, and we are looking forward to this new partnership.

There will be a Farm volunteer information & orientation luncheon on Saturday, February 19th from 10 am to 12 pm in Fayetteville (lunch will be provided).  Please register to attend (location information on Volunteer Hub).

Opportunities to volunteer at The Farm will start in March, and those dates will be available soon.  We would ask that you consider attending on Feb 19th as it will provide a broad overview of production plans and volunteer roles.
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D.C.

This past year we were incredible blessed by a member of the community who graciously helped start the D.C. initiative.  As a result, the back of house engine that is needed to support many of the Cobblestone Project initiatives was able to drive so many things behind the scenes.  This includes a home for 3 Bags in

2 Day, support for the 5 Our Step families that were placed in homes this past year, Laundry Love prep & staging as well as some of our Green Rooms and gatherings.  As a result of the DC, we have seen a new level of capabilities and effectiveness throughout all of our initiatives.

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So, in order to fully support the continued development of the various initiatives, the DC will be following the Farm to Fayetteville.  It will be located very close to the Farm site and be able to serve in a new capacity of processing the harvest, cold storage, etc.

The new D.C. will take a lot of effort to get it up to the level we need to support our requirements, so there are some electrical, plumbing and cleaning needs if any groups are able to help.  Given a little elbow grease, the DC will be a perfect new home.

If you would like to help with bringing the D.C. up to speed, please send an email to DC@cobblestoneproject.org or watch the Volunteer Hub for staged volunteer days.
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!dea Camp: Orphan Care

We are pleased to be a supporting organization bringing The Idea Camp to Northwest Arkansas.

The Idea Camp is a collaborative movement of idea-makers who facilitate hybrid conferences and develop resources for people who desire to move ideas towards implementation. Facilitated by a growing collective of innovative thinkers and practitioners from numerous disciplines, participants gather around topics of interest to encourage & inspire one another, share practical wisdom from the field, and develop viable networks for idea-making.

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The upcoming Idea Camp (Feb 25th & 26th in NW Arkansas) is focusing on the subject of Orphan Care. It will facilitate fresh, honest and transformative conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners on topics including US & International care, community development, trafficking of orphans, adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, HIV/AIDS, special needs, cross-cultural & religious dynamics to care, and many more. The desire is to live life as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to our world through tangible acts of care for orphans.

There will be balance conversation between Int

ernationl & US needs for orphans, foster care, mentoring and preventive care.  In fact, many local NW Arkansas organizations will be presenting include 99 Balloon, The C.A.L.L, NW Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Keypoint Church, Titus Task, Potter’s House, Central United Methodist Church, Cobblestone Project and Mike & Susan Duke will be sharing their experience as Child Advocates.

For more information, and to register, visit https://www.theideacamp.com/.

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In Closing

Thank you to everyone that gives unceasingly to serve our community.  You are the heroes & we could not be more grateful to live in a community like NW Arkansas

Take Care,

The Cobblestone Project

“Aggressively Pursuing a Community Without Need”

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Click to Download Cobblestone Project January 2011

click document icon to download a printable version of the Cobblestone Project January 2011 Update

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The Farm 2011 Season Update

The 2011 season for The Farm is underway!

It is hard to believe the opportunities that have presented themselves over the past few months and we are truly excited about what is ahead.

We are excited to announce that the Cobblestone Project Farm is moving to Fayetteville.

New Heights Church in Fayetteville has graciously donated the use of 10 acres of their land in West Fayetteville to be the new home of the farm.

This move will greatly expand the scope of The Farm to include: expanded food production capacity, work share programs to create commerce & jobs, agricultural education partnerships & a large increase in the ability to serve the under-resourced all over NW Arkansas.

We are extremely grateful to the people of New Heights Church for their vision. We could not dream this big without you, and we are looking forward to this new partnership.

There will be a Farm volunteer information & orientation luncheon on Saturday, February 19th from 10 am to 12 pm in Fayetteville (lunch will be provided).  Follow this link to register.

Opportunities to volunteer at The Farm will start in March, and those dates will be available soon. We would ask that you consider attending on Feb 19th as it will provide a broad overview of production plans and volunteer roles

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NWA Give Camp

In February the Cobblestone Project was selected to be a benefiting organization of NW Arkansas Give Camp.

GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. This custom software could be a new website for the nonprofit organization, a small data-collection application to keep track of members, or a application for the Red Cross that automatically emails a blood donor three months after they’ve donated blood to remind them that they are now eligible to donate again.

We had an opportunity to catch up with Jay Smith, NWA Give Camp Director, to hear why he is involved

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As a result of NWA GiveCamp, you’ll notice a number of improvements that will save us money, communicate clearly and make the overall volunteer registration experience much easier

  • Overall design brings clarity of current activities, focus events & story-telling.
  • Navigation Improvements.
  • Event Registration Consolidated into one site (no longer requires the outsourced expense of Volunteer Hub).
  • More stable foundation from which to grow website capabilities.
  • Social media integration.
  • Initiative Coordinators can now directly upload stories.
  • and many more super helpful management tools.

Please take a minute to meet the team who is responsible for making it all happen…

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Huge thank you to Don Faulkner, Brian Neumeier, David McMath, Sarah Scott, Connie Seidel and Rob Apple for all the time, expertise and effort that they have invested for us.

What in incredible gift to so many.

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The Farm Volunteer Orientation & Training Lunch

Saturday February 19, 2011 – Saturday February 19, 2011

10:00 am until 12:00 pm (lunch will be provided)

4476 Waterside Court

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

If you are interested in being involved in the 2011 Farm season, please plan on attending our volunteer orientation training day. It will be hosted at the Northstar Building in Fayetteville. We will be discussing our new location, 2011 goals, descriptions of volunteer needs, guidelines, safety, and other  farm programs. Lunch will be provided!

The Farm initiative is designed to use agriculture to help the under-resourced in our community by focusing on Hunger Relief, Education, Economic Development, Community, Food Production and Sustainability.During the 2010 season, a Gift Card Program was created to provide free food for students on free or reduced school lunch programs.  For the 2011 season, we have two new initiatives launching to include:  Harvest Share and Work Share.

The Farm initiative began as a result of the 1,287 Stand Up and Be Counted Homelessness initiative when Mark Horvath’s (founder InvisiblePeople.tv) visited NW Arkansas.   This created an opportunity for the Cobblestone Project to collaborate with World Garden on their feeding initiative now known as The Cafe, expand the Gathering & Distribution initiative and form The Farm.

Register

Thoughts on the Pacific Northwest

We just got back from an incredible journey from the Northwest we went to Portland, then headed to Vancouver, B.C., then Seattle, then ended the journey back in Portland. Even though a lot of the organizations we wanted to check out were closed we did however get little glimpses into understanding more of what homelessness [...]

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Folding Clothes with Superman…

Laundry Love Siloam Spring…

the stories from a little laundromat in Siloam Springs never cease to amaze.  The following is one of those stories from Mark who has been coordinating the Siloam Spring Laundry Love from the beginning.  These are Mark’s words…
I don’t think either of us planned to meet that night, but we both needed it.

He was just there trying to clean some clothes covered with glass and dirt, I showed up hoping to make a connection with someone.

I noticed him sorting clothes as I walked in and asked if we had met before, he answered “I don’t think so”.

“I’m Mark” I replied; “I’m superman” he quickly answered.

Two hours later I knew that “Superman” was only a label the media had given Chris, a man who woke up a week ago to a horrific sound, and seconds later was hanging on to his bedpost as a tornado ripped through his house.

APNews:  Arkansas Tornado Survivor: ‘It Sucked Me Out of My House’

He said he kept his eyes open because he wanted to see the end, but miraculously found himself alive in a pasture, across the street from his now flattened house.

He showed me the scars and wounds where splinters are working their way to the surface, but it was obvious by his eyes that the questions and the pain are buried far deeper.

Chris doesn’t like to ask for help, so we agreed to trade quarters, he put one in, and then I dropped in my quarter. What he did need was someone listen. He told me later it was getting old talking to the steering wheel of the car he was borrowing.

I’ve never met someone like Chris.  Someone for whom I instantly felt depth of compassion I can’t take credit for. To be honest, I don’t know what you say to someone who just lost about everything, so I begged God to give me the wisdom to not say more than was needed.

He started the next washing machine and we just started to talk.  We talked about his son who he dearly loves, talked about sacrifices he’s made to drive a truck all over the country, talked about the hurt in his family, and the joy of watching friends come help dig out what was left of his stuff.  We talked about hopes of finding a trailer to live in while he figures out how to rebuild.

We talked about what those few seconds did to his view of a God he’s now not sure even exists.  I understood, I’m pretty sure I’d have the same questions.

As the night came to a close he said we could pray together, and I was thankful to help carry his clothes out to the little red car that for now is “home”.

What I love most about laundry love goes beyond plugging quarters and folding clothes (as important as that is), what I love most about laundry love is that it’s a place you can hear Superman’s story, and find a friend named Chris.


If you would like to participate in serving the under-resourced in our community through Laundry Love, please visit the Laundry Love initiative webpage for more information.