From Gatherings

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Present in the City: Grace

Wednesday March 14, 2012 – Wednesday March 14, 2012

Fellowship Bible Church NWA

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Description:

The Cobblestone Project & People of the Second Chance invite you to gather for an evening that promises to radically transform your understanding of grace and second chances. Please plan on joining us on Wed, March 14th at 6pm as we gather as a community and raise a banner of grace.

(click to download “Present in the City:  Grace” printable announcement posters)

Mike Foster

We are lucky to have Mike Foster as the keynote speaker for Present in the City: Grace. Mike is a speaker, author, and consultant helping people live and tell a better story. Mike is the Co-founder of “People of the Second Chance” a radical grace movement made up of activists, artists and imperfectionists. He serves on the Executive Team of PlainJoe Studios and is the author of “Gracenomics: Unleash The Power of Second Chance Living” He lives in Southern California with his beautiful bride and his 2 young children.

People of the Second Chance

People of the Second ChancePeople of the Second Chance is a global community of activists, imperfectionists and second chancers committed to unleashing radical grace everyday, in every moment, for everyone. We challenge the common misconceptions about failure and success and stand with those who have hit rock bottom in their personal and professional lives. We are a community that is committed to stretch ourselves in the areas of relational forgiveness, personal transparency and advocate for mercy over judgment.

for more information, please contact info@cobblestoneproject.org

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Project Tibet

  As the 3B2D team, we typically don’t send a lot of supplies overseas or anything like that. We have a few times, and have loved it. The times that we have have been awesome, but we are so in love with our supplies staying here too. It’s been one of those things where you [...]

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NWA PIT Homeless Census 2011

NW Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census Final Report

On Monday, the Community and Family Institute is located in the University of Arkansasʼ Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice released the final Northwest Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census Report.

We would ask everyone in Northwest Arkansas take the time to read the final & full report as this may be one of our greatest tools in serving those who are homeless in Northwest Arkansas.

You can download the report by following this link

Northwest Arkansas Point-in-Time Homeless Census 2011 Report

Summary of 2011 Point-in-Time Census

  • Numbers. It is estimated that on any given night approximately 2,001 adults and youth in Benton and Washington Counties are homeless.
  • Basic demographics 437 adults were interviewed for the 2011 Point-in-Time Census. The median age of respondents was 40 years. About two-thirds of the sample, (63%) was between the ages of 25 and 54. Men comprised 58 percent of the survey respondents. Eighty-one percent of respondents were Caucasian/White, 7 percent were African-American/Black, with the remaining 12 percent comprised of other racial and ethnic categories; 7.8 percent of respondents were Hispanic.
  • Housing status. While approximately 1 percent of respondents were actually interviewed on the street, interviews conducted in local soup kitchens, day centers and food banks revealed that 8 percent of homeless adults spent the previous night on the streets. The most common living situations included doubling up/staying with a friend or relative (26%),treatment facilities (20%), and transitional housing (17%).
  • Family structure. Sixty-three percent of homeless persons were single adults. Of those in families, 7 percent were couples without children, 11 percent were couples with children, 16 percent were one parent families with children, and 2.5 percent were in some other family arrangement.
  • Time spent homeless. The median time spent homeless was 5 months. Seventy-three percent reported that this was their first time being homeless in the last three years. More than one-quarter of those interviewed reported a second or third homeless episode in the last three years.
  • Services used and service gaps. The most frequently received services were food assistance (72%), medication assistance (32%), substance abuse treatment (32%), clothing assistance (46%), case management (43%), and transportation assistance (27%).
  • Regarding service gaps, the services most commonly needed, but not currently being received were: job training and assistance (24%), housing placement assistance (26%), transportation assistance (31%), and medication assistance (26%).
  • Chronic homelessness. Twenty-seven percent of respondents were chronically homeless. Of the number of respondents who said they suffered from at least one chronic condition, 44 percent classified themselves as chronic substance abusers, 28 percent reported having a mental illness, 27 percent reported a physical disability, 14 percent were domestic violence victims, and 9 percent had a developmental disability. Of the total number of homeless persons interviewed, more than 20 percent reported two or more of these conditions.
  • Military service. Twenty-five percent of homeless adults reported prior service in the military; nearly 30 percent of those veterans saw active combat. The majority of these homeless veterans were older, single males.
  • Prevalence. Overall, the number of homeless persons in Benton and Washington Counties increased 36 percent between 2009 and 201, from 1,287 to 2,001. The number of homeless youth increased by more than 39 percent.
  • Age. The median age of homeless adults was similar 41 (2009) and 40 (2011), with notable jumps in the numbers of persons age 55 and older.
  • Race/Ethnicity. The racial composition was very similar to that recorded in 2009 though the diversity was less than in 2009. The number of Hispanic adults dropped slightly between 2009-2011.
  • Housing status. The percentage of people making use of emergency shelter continued to decline from 37 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2009 and 14 percent in 2011. At the same time, there was a substantial increase in those reporting doubling up from 18 percent in 2009 to 26 percent in 2011.
  • Family structure. In the 2-year period from 2009 to 2011, there was an increase in the percentage of homeless adults who reported being single without children, from 57 percent to 64 percent.
  • Frequency and duration of homeless episodes. There was a 48 percent decline in the average number of homeless episodes in the previous 3-year period among adults, from 2.5 in 2007 to 1.3 in 2009. That number changed only slightly in 2011 (1.4). However, the median length of
    homelessness remained the same as in 2009–5 months.
  • Service gap. Significant gains were made in narrowing the service delivery gap in a number of areas. The percentage of respondents who reported using case management services in 2009 nearly doubled to those using it in 2011. Likewise, those receiving medical treatment in 2009 (17%) doubled in 2011 (35%). The service delivery gap continued to be significant in 2011 as it was in 2009 for job training, medication, and transportation assistance.
  • Chronic homelessness. The rate of chronic homelessness among adults declined from 32 percent in 2009 to 27 percent in 2011.
  • Chronic conditions. There were only minor changes in chronic conditions reported between persons reporting such condition in 2009 compared to 2011. Over 40% continued reporting substance abuse problems, and more than one-quarter reported problems with a physical or mental disability.
  • Homeless veterans. The percentage of adult homeless who reported prior military services jumped increased slightly from 24 to 25 percent between 2009 and 2011.

For more information on the University of Arkansas Community and Family Institute, please visit their website at http://sociology.uark.edu/3550.php

For more information on how you can help serve the homeless people in Northwest Arkansas, you can serve with Seven Hills Homeless Center, Samaritan Community Center, Lifesource, NW Arkansas Women’s Shelter or at Laundry Love Project’s throughout NW Arkansas.

 

Scott Page taking NWA Homeless Census

“he was my roommate as we traveled on our high school basketball team”

our final account of participating in the NW Arkansas Homeless Census from Scott Page

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When the Census training started we were hit with the reality that the numbers were going to be up from the last census. Then skin was placed on reality, with a statement like, one local school system has 200 plus homeless kids, the forefront for the next few days was being set for me.

My first day was spent at a local soup kitchen that normally sees 150 to 200 people a day, numbers were way down because of the nice weather.

When I finished my surveys I wondered into the assembly hall, and looked around the room, and I noticed a man who looked familiar. I have known him most of my life, it was interesting I was being asked to do the census in my hometown that I no longer lived in.

I went over and sat down, asked him how he was today? He greeted me with a big hug. We haven’t talked in about 5 years. He was my roommate as we traveled on our high school basketball team. He has seen very hard times, admits he made some difficult choices, but he and his friends (there were 5 of us that shared lunch together), are living in community together.

He told me about his family…Then he brought tears to my eyes as he asked me about mine. He hasn’t been able to find a job, and has run out of his opportunities to stay at Salvation Army. He still had the same smile, and said “I’ll be all right,” but I left Central United Methodist Church that day, sat in my car and (cried, prayed, and just felt helpless).

The next morning I was one of the crew in the woods of Fayetteville. These were all camps that were around the Jr. High I attended as a youth. As we drove the streets with the Fayetteville Police Department, those were streets I ran with Jr. High off-season Basketball.

When I sat with the people that lived in the camps later that day at 7 Hills Homeless Center, with all their issues and perceptive on the world. Most are exactly like the rest of the world.

We have issues, we have our perspectives…the people I enjoyed lunch with that day were people who are survivors, they get work, that gets them along…I don’t know what I would say a typical homeless person is, I wouldn’t say I met anyone typical, just a lot of different people with different stories.

These days did a lot for my perspective, there are always things I want, and need to do to change how I am living.

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The results of the 2011 NWA Homeless Census were released last week and the number of homeless in our community has grown +36% since 2009 to 2,001 homeless people.

For Scott Page, that number is no longer a statistics. It’s a friend from high school.

For more information, please visit our previous post “Prelim Homeless Census Results

NWA Homeless Census

Counting NWA’s Homeless: Preliminary Results from the 2011 Homeless Census

The 2011 point-in-time (PIT) homeless census in Northwest Arkansas is completed and the news, as expected, is not good. In the midst of the most significant economic downturn since the Great Depression, the number of homeless in Northwest Arkansas increased from an estimated 1,287 in 2009 to 2,001 (36%) in 2011. The rise is alarming but not surprising as service providers throughout the region report record numbers of persons being served.

More than two-thirds of homeless persons in the Northwest Arkansas region are 18 and under. Nearly one-quarter of those counted in shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, and day centers were under the age of 18, and half of those youth were under the age of 6. These youth were identified by their parent or guardian as residing with them in a variety of circumstances including shelters, hotels, homes of friends or relatives, and even the streets (car, RV, camping, etc.).

…to read the rest of the report, please download from the University of Arkansas Community & Family Institute & the Community Fact Sheet of Results

The Cobblestone Project along with 7 Hills Homeless Center and the University of Arkansas will be posting some next steps to get involved in meet the needs of the homeless in our community. Please watch the Cobblestone Project website for additional information.

Idea Camp Orphan Care

Idea Camp Orphan Care is coming to NW Arkansas on Feb 25th & 26th!

The Idea Camp Orphan Care is coming to NW Arkansas on Feb 25th & 26th and Cobblestone Project is proud to help bring this event to our community.

The world is full of people with great ideas. Unfortunately for many, they will take these ideas all the way to the grave without ever actualizing them. Whether it’s an idea for a song, book, organization, business, ministry, family or even plans to make the world a better place, these dreamers, many with noble intent, will never see their passions realized.

The Idea Camp was birthed out of a simple hope to help people move closer to implementing their God-given ideas by creating a healthy environment in which everyday people are able to share ideas, sharpen each other’s thoughts, and collectively move together to benefit humanity.

The Idea Camp Orphan CareThis particular Idea Camp will focus on the topics related to Orphan Care and the Church.

The Idea Camp will facilitate a safe and transparent environment of learning, sharing of insights from the respective fields of focus, and practical insights and examples of holistic care.  As a faith centered conference, there will be an on-going focus on the importance of living as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to the world through tangible acts of care in this area.

We will facilitate fresh, honest and transformative conversations with leading thinkers on topics including adoption, foster care, child sponsorship, community development, US & International care, trafficking & orphan care, special needs, cross-cultural & religious boundaries, and many more.

Using an interactive platform and collective of leading thinkers and practitioners from the field, participants will be able to learn from leading experts as well as one another, share best practices, and work toward collaborative efforts. In addition, those following online will be able to experience the conference via the latest tools in social media. All of the general sessions and a handful of workshops will be streamed live and recorded to be used as future resources online.

Registration Link: https://www.theideacamp.com/register

Speakers and Orgs who will be represented:

Tom Davis, Children’s Hope Chest
John Sower, The Mentoring Project
Jedd Medefind, Christian Alliance for Orphans
Frank Garrott, Gladney Center for Adoption
Charles Lee, Ideation
Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback
Chris Marlow, Help End Local Poverty
Jonathan Olinger, Discover the Journey
Rob Morris, Love 146
Mark Moore, MANA Nutrition
Kristen Welch, WeAreThatFamily.com & Mercy House Kenya
Gary Schneider, Every Orphans Hope
Matt Mooney, 99 Balloons
Esther Havens, Humanitarian Photographer
Greg Russinger, Just One
Dan King
Johnny Carr, Bethany Christian Services
Dan Cruver, Together fro Adoption
Jason Kovacs, ABBA Fund & Together for Adoption
Jason Locy, Five Stone Creative
Heidi Cox, Gladney Center for Adoption
Josh & Amy Bottomly, From Ashes to Africa
Aschalew Abebe, Kidmia
Nicole Wick
Mark Bray, Cobblestone Project
Mike Rusch, Cobblestone Project
Moody & Emily Alexander, Ethiopia Smile and Glimmer of Hope
Alan Hunt, World Orphans
Melinda Nicholson, Cherish Kids
The CALL of Arkansas
+ many more that we will update on website

Special Musical Guests include: Aaron Ivey Band, Stephen Miller and Seth Primm

Location:

NW Arkansas
First Baptist Church of Rogers
3364 West Pleasant Grove Road
Rogers, AR

More Info at: http://www.theideacamp.com

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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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2011 NW Arkansas Homeless Census – Info & Call for Volunteers

As of January 2009, University of Arkansas Community & Family Institute estimated there were 1,287 Homeless People in NW Arkansas of which half were under the age of 18.

On January 27th & 28th, a new NWA Homeless Census will be conducted to better understand how the issue of homelessness has changed in our community over the past 2 years.

Volunteers are needed to collect this critically important information, and you can help.

Please email Wendie Choudary (wchoudary[at]gmail.com) with your contact information if you would like to volunteer.

Additional details available by downloading the information sheet.

(click download a printable information sheet)

Present-in-the-City-The-Fatherless-Nov-2-2010-004-1.jpg

“Why the issue of Fatherlessness?”

On Nov 2nd, the Cobblestone Project is hosting our second “Present in the City” evening together.  For this gathering, we have chosen to focus on the issues of Fatherlessness and have invited Dr. John Sowers, author of “Fatherless Generation” & President of The Mentoring Project, to be our guest.

But some may ask,

“Why a night to focus on the issue of fatherlessness?”

“What does this have to do with serving the under-resourced in our community?”

“What kind of impact could this make?”

“Is this really an issue in our community?”

These are all honest and much needed questions.  These are the exact same questions that we have asked of ourselves in preparing for this gathering together.

Here are our thoughts…

Within the framework of the Cobblestone Project it is our desire to work towards “a community without need” by “identifying needs, connecting needs with resources and fulfilling those needs with sustainable solutions“.  In this pursuit, many initiatives have come to life to meet the physical needs of the poor in our community by creating spaces and opportunities to meet those in need on equal footing in a very personal way.  And, they are truly beautiful spaces.

In these spaces and in these initiatives, it has been impossible to deny that the breakdown of support structures and the breakdown of the family has an devastating impact on a person’s ability to provide for themselves, stay in school, hold down a job and ultimately lift themselves out of their circumstances.  In fact, within all four of our Our Step cases so far, there has been one common story.  It has been the breakdown of family support structures that have led to domestic violence, poverty and homelessness.  In each case we have worked to place single parents into homes.

While we must continue to work in our efforts to alleviate the symptoms of poverty, we must also work towards breaking these cycles leading to poverty, domestic violence and homelessness.  So, where do begin in the effort to truly break these cycles?

Consider these statistics referenced in John Sowers’ book “Fatherless Generation

  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children come from a fatherless home
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from a fatherless home
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from a fatherless home
  • 75% of all adolescents in chemical abuse centers come from a fatherless home
  • 80% of all rapists motivated with displace anger come from a fatherless home
  • 85% of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders come from a fatherless home
  • 70% of all juveniles in state-operated institutions come from a fatherless home
  • 71% of all pregnant teenagers come from a fatherless home
  • 63% of all youth suicides come from a fatherless home

To say that there is a strong connection between the issue of fatherlessness and the effects of poverty is a huge understatement.  Take a minute to consider this video…

Therefore, we are inviting our community to come, gather together and begin to learn how the issue of fatherlessness is having an impact on our community.

David Blankenhorn (author and researcher) states it this way…

“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.  It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society.  It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women.  Yet, despite its scale and social consequences, fatherlessness is a problem that is frequently ignored or denied.”

For more information including time and location of “Present in the City – the Fatherless“, please visit the Cobblestone Project website and please consider picking up “Fatherless Generation” by Dr. John Sowers.

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WeAreVisible.com Launched to Empower Homeless People via Social Media

Mark Horvath, founder of InvisiblePeople.tv, has been a visible face in our community for the past two years helping bring awareness to the issue of homelessness.  Through the 1,287 Homelessness Awareness Efforts, Mark has been able to break down our stereotypes, exposure the true face of the homeless and create dialogue towards change.

However, he hasn’t just been a face in our community, his time spent with us in NW Arkansas has lead to real change & the creation of some new initiatives that are making substaintial differences in the lives of people in our community.  Initiatives such as Our Step, The Farm and The Cafe that are responsible for providing permanent housing, food and support structures to those in our community without.

In an effort to continue to empower those without a home, Mark is launching WeAreVisible.com to connect homeless people online and reconnect them to the world again.


WeAreVisible.com‘s mission is to give people dealing with poverty and homelessness the tools they need to get online and have a voice. The site teaches them how to sign up for email, open a Twitter account, join Facebook, create a blog and, in general, take advantage of the benefits of online social media. It also has the potential to become a model for virtual case management as it helps build a community among homeless people and support service providers.

WeAreVisible.com is a complement to the InvisiblePeople.tv video blog (vlog), which was launched in 2008 to make the “invisible people” in society more visible. Together, the two sites offer homeless people a unique opportunity to take part in the Internet revolution.

Take a few minutes and watch the WeAreVisible.com video…


Mark has made a real difference in our community and his support has made permanent changes in the lives of many.  Take a few minutes to learn about WeAreVisible.com and find ways to use this tool to help strengthen relationships and connect our neighbors to services and support structures.

As a first step, Cobblestone Project will begin including WeAreVisible cards & resources to those we serve at our Laundry Love, 3 Bags in 2 Days, The Garden and Shear Kindness initiatives.  We believe that these initiatives are just a first step in working creating change.

Thanks to Mark for providing us with these tools as we pursue our dream of “a Community Without Need”.

(WeAreVisible.com Press Release)