Viewing entries tagged
serve locally

Parenting With Open Arms

Parenting With Open Arms

When Jennifer and her husband, Peter, decided to extend their family of three some years ago, they desired to do so with the hope of spreading the gospel as well.  A friend of theirs had journeyed through the foster-to-adopt system in Los Angeles County, which prompted the idea for them to look into doing the same. 

The Benefit of Buying at Eastside

The Benefit of Buying at Eastside

Scrip is a program that enables you to purchase gift cards to hundreds of the stores, restaurants and gas stations that you frequent, with a percentage of each purchase going back into Eastside’s Compassion Department to help families in need.

Let’s Talk About Poverty, Part II: Gaining Perspective

Let’s Talk About Poverty, Part II: Gaining Perspective

“We appreciate the clothing and we appreciate the food, but more than anything, we value your friendship,” said Larry, the first ‘friend without a home’ that Tyler and Hughie made years ago.  The non-profit organization Povertees was founded in 2007 when CEO, Tyler Patterson, began sewing pockets on shirts to sell to his fellow college students, his profits paid for food for the homeless men and women he would meet.

That simple, passionate act turned into what would become Tyler and Povertees President, Hughie Hughes’, infrastructure for creating an organization that made clothing in order to employ people transitioning out of homelessness. Although not all of us are going to start a non-profit company towards this mission, there are significant ways these two men have found in their journey that can expand the awareness to those of us who share a community with brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness.  

We sat down with Hughie to gain some perspective on what is most needed in the lives of those currently living on the streets, his answers begging us to view the humanity with which those without a home possess as our common ground between those of us who do.

The first time Hughie visited Skid Row in Downtown LA, home to a population anywhere between 17,000-23,000 people experiencing homelessness, he said that he wasn’t expecting to connect easily to the folks he was meeting.  “Quite literally after my first time to this area, I had a monumental realization: what I thought was funny, was funny to them too. We could make fun of and mess with each other like real friends.” 

The understanding that came after this initial sitting with people that had the reputation of being so different from the own lives we lead, was quickly proven to be so deeply false.  What was gained, was the insight that these humans living in exposed, rough conditions, were no different from the inside, out.  

The college-aged pals continued to bring food and commune with their friends and acquaintances of Skid Row and would do just that: commune.  “Every time we gave them food, we sat with them; it was real communion,” described Hughie, “we would offer a sandwich, and they would offer half of it right back to us to eat.”

Hughie and Tyler continued to make trips to DTLA up to five times a week, and as they did, they began to classify the people they spent time with as their friends who happened to not have a home.  It was this shift in perspective that ushered in an appreciation for their friends’ humanity, an appreciation that continued to grow as many of them narrated their stories to Hughie and Tyler.  This act of vulnerability forged bridges of relatability, and Hughie and Tyler’s new friends said that they were now being “seen as people,” an unfortunate rarity for the majority of them.

Through the many experiences Hughie had visiting his friends on Skid Row, he shared that “consistency is the key component, allowing trust to be built with each and every story we hear.”  This consistency, this availability, is what has made the difference in their new friends’ lives, and lucky for us, it’s those factors that we too can offer as individuals and a community.  

We may not house the same passions of these two men to start an organization that fights for the rights of the population living in poverty, but, we do have the eyes to see the need, and ears to hear the stories of the human beings living in the present time without homes. 

As Eastside continues to make efforts in our North Orange County community, will you join us? Join us in loving on the individuals and families living life on the streets as we choose to bend an ear and sit a minute, choose to recognize the same humanity that resides in each of us: the need for connection, the need to be heard and understood.  

Efforts such as these will begin to not only shift ourselves out of the possible patterns we’ve accrued over time, but by being available, we will send a message to our neighbors experiencing homelessness that they are so worth the effort to be known.  

For specific ways to get involved with Eastside as we seek to love on our neighbors experiencing homelessness, visit eastside.com/servelocally.  And may we each walk through the weeks to come with a new lense on poverty and those longing to overcome its grasp.

Let’s Talk About Poverty, Part I: Breaking Our Expectations

Let’s Talk About Poverty, Part I: Breaking Our Expectations

Poverty. Poor. Living under the Poverty Line.  These terms and phrases we hear on a daily basis to describe a person in need--but what do they necessitate exactly? Food? Shelter? Different clothing? Perhaps, but when we lean in to take a closer look we find that lacking physical objects is hardly the only reason why these folks would describe their lives as scarce.  

In the book Helping Without Hurting, Steve Corbett explains this concept further in saying that in “being materialistic people, many North Americans tend to think of the disease of poverty as being a lack of material things, such as money, food, clothing, and shelter.”  He explains that because this is our way of thinking, we believe as a culture that the way to relieve this epidemic is to give money or other material objects to our low-income neighbors.  However, as a society, we’re beginning to arrive at the understanding that there are numerous other non-material facets that can significantly help to redeem our neighbors’ poverty.  

The truth is that an individual can be experiencing poverty in ways that lie completely outside of the “material” spectrum.  This can be surprising for us as members of our communities that have sought to come alongside impoverished people with tangible offerings in our outstretched arms.  

Though the need for water and hygiene items are certainly necessary, there are more soul-quenching demands to be addressed. As we gain perspective on the circumstances these folks are facing, we begin to grasp that their needs go beyond that of what we see them lacking, into more abstract essentials such as gaining a positive mindset, life purpose and a supportive community.

Taking a look at these intangible life sources begs us as a society to ask the question: could there truly be a plethora of needs for this community of people that we simply haven’t been seeing? Needs that affect humans in a more profound and lasting way than filling their immediate need for gasoline or sustenance?  

If what Corbett has written about is true, we must begin to pivot our embedded reaction to fill the need we expect, and expand our horizons to view the person as a person with potential.  A person that perhaps has some insecurities or underdeveloped resources that simply require the chance to be tapped into, stewarded and supported.  

As we seek to gain understanding about the population of folks living defined by unfortunate circumstances, we realize we have the opportunity to view each individual as being clothed in significant possibility; possibility that can be fostered and given the chance to grow with human contact.  By engaging in conversation, learning their stories, sharing a meal, etc., the concepts of significance and humanity and equality will begin to reside within our neighbors and take shape as they are free to make steps towards regaining their identity outside of poverty. As Corbett explains, each individual living with poverty is still an image bearer of God, equipped with talents, skills and gifts that simply need the space and invitation to be recognized and nurtured.  

It is in appreciating this truth and flipping our perception of poverty on its head, that the layer of brokenness will be lifted, and the true identity of the person underneath will surely be revealed and allowed to grow.  And for the almost 400,000 people in Orange County living below the federal poverty line, it is paramount that this understanding be obtained in order for the lives being reflected in these statistics to be given hope again.

To learn more about partnering with Eastside as we seek to walk alongside those in our community facing poverty, visit eastside.com/servelocally. 

 

 

Bravely Forward: Sherry's Story

Bravely Forward: Sherry's Story

For some of us, only one medical emergency, or one pay cut, or one traffic citation separates us from experiencing homelessness.  Oftentimes as a society, we assume that the folks we see on on the streets of our neighborhoods have a story of how they got there that is far from relatable,  but nothing could be further from the truth.

There's an On-Call Team at Eastside

There's an On-Call Team at Eastside

Three times a week, one of Eastside’s community partners reaches out to our Local Compassion department with news of an individual or family’s pressing need.  Erica Sperrazzo, Director of Local Compassion at Eastside Christian Church, then gets to work, seeking out the ways and means necessary in order to assist the person(s) in dire straights.

A Community in Support of Our Officers

A Community in Support of Our Officers

On a Tuesday morning this past February, two policemen responded to a typical traffic accident call in Whittier, California; but when they appeared on the scene they were faced with much more than that.  A man known to have gang affiliation had stolen the vehicle responsible for the crash that morning and opened fire on the officers as they approached him at the site of the collision.  What was supposed to be standard procedure, turned into a day filled with emotion as the gunman took the life of one of the officers and injured the other.

Moms in Need Receive Diapers, Indeed!

Moms in Need Receive Diapers, Indeed!

Over the past few weeks leading up to Eastside’s annual Serve Day, a drive for diapers and wipes has been commencing.  The recipients will be none other than moms in our community that are hard pressed in purchasing these everyday necessities to keep their little ones happy and comfortable.

Linking Arms with the Kids in Our Community

Linking Arms with the Kids in Our Community

“Our goal is for the kids to be kids, to provide a place where they can have fun and enable them to form real relationships with people in the community.”  Lofty goal?  Nellie Hernandez of Orange County’s Social Services department doesn’t think so. 

Unpacking the Suitcase

Unpacking the Suitcase

Mike explained that it was rare for addicts to be honest when in critical need, but honest they were as they spoke that day.  Leaving no stone unturned, they expounded on their situation, saying they were not married, not members of the church and currently on the verge of eviction from their motel. 

Celebrating a Year of Handwritten Love

Celebrating a Year of Handwritten Love

Jody Masquefa and her husband, Yves, own a restaurant in Anaheim that’s now daily serving up hope in the form of pasta to families in dire need of support.  February 2, 2017 marks a year of anonymous dinners being delivered to these families at CHOC hospital who are facing the devastation and hardship that illness has imposed on their children; this is the story of how they got here.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

January is the month devoted to creating awareness of the ever-present societal issue of Human Trafficking. US Homeland Security defines the term as a “modern-day slavery that involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” 

The Domino Affect of Love

The Domino Affect of Love

The result was overwhelming as the same people who surround her on a daily basis at work jumped at the opportunity to serve! They worked together to supply every request on the list so that someone else’s needs would be filled last Christmas.

Low Income Kids - Abraham's Story

Low Income Kids - Abraham's Story

 “Thank you for the pencils and paper and backpack. I really like the shirt too! I don’t like it when I don’t have my stuff for school, I feel so dumb. Your pack makes me feel better. Thank you!”

Homelessness - Brett's Story

Homelessness - Brett's Story

On the hunt for a shower each morning became a new part of that routine, hygiene kits given by Eastside helping when a source to get clean was nowhere to be found. 

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

Eastside stepped in and was able to fund the remaining weeks of the family’s stay while their paperwork process was completed--allowing a huge weight to be lifted off this single mom’s shoulders.