We are all aware of the growing problem of homelessness and also poverty issues facing our province. For the past eight years, we have been working with Calgary’s disadvantaged population facing temporary or permanent difficulties, with necessities of life and shelter. During those years, we have worked, face to face, on a day to day basis assisting, working along side those facing the most difficult times in their lives. Poverty issues are extremely complex. As you are aware, some contributions are alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, but also personal tragedies. We understand, after working all this time with them, that there are no easy solutions, but we have come to recognize that the number one key element is the restoration of these people’s hope. Mix that together with necessities of life, such as food, clothes and shelter, we have seen enormous success in assisting many and restoring them to contributing citizens.
For years, seven times a week, four times, right on the streets of Calgary, we are providing those citizens with the message of hope and love through Jesus Christ. Presently, we provide necessities of life to thousands on a regular basis (hundred and fifty thousand meals per year), not only homeless people, but also struggling families, widows, single moms with kids, etc. In a difficult economical situation it can get very difficult just to supply their basic needs. In the recent economical recession, we experienced countless situations where people came for short term support. Those experiences brought forth an idea for a self sufficient farm. Here is the outline of what we are proposing:
160-320 acres of land dedicated to food production with a goal of also training volunteers how to farm, take care of animals, a place that would teach the homless life skills such as working hard, contributing, being reliable, being part of a team, and also to provide a safe environment away from drugs, pushers, alcohol and overall, bad company.
Here is how we see this vision working.
We would build dorms for about a hundred to a hundred and fifty homeless
We would acquire animals such as cows, chickens, ducks, pigs, goats, etc
On a portion of the farm we would grow grain, and various greens
This project would be completely off the grid and be powered and sustained using green renewable energy (solar power, wind power, solar heating, geothermal heating, water well, etc)
Would also have pet animals such as dogs, cats, horses, etc, and would like to have a healing retreat for families that are experiencing poverty, we know that spending time in nature and with animals in itself has beneficial effects on people’s hearts and minds
You have to remember that the key to success is to change their mindset and their point of view, and to let them know that their tomorrow can truly look different from today. To achieve that, you have to provide a safe and secure environment, and a farm with animals would do just that.
The goal would be to teach people various skills such as taking care of animals, growing food, working with wood – carving and building. We would first start with a few who would help build the farm. That way, at the same time, we can train some of the homeless people carpentry, plumbing, etc. One of our founding members was a home builder for many years and personally was responsible for renovations and building houses, apartments, malls, etc.
The most important benefit for the province would be that in the hard times, when food supplies are reduced, our working farm would not need to rely on government food sources in order to continue to address the needs of the homeless. This way, in the long run, the province of Alberta would save millions of dollars in expenses.
Think about it, a self-sufficient farm that is literally able to feed thousands of people with out needing to dip into a hurting provinces pockets in during a time of economic crisis. This is a plan to proactively prepare for the worst before it happens. In a few years, we would be able to have this farm fully operational and next time recession hits we will be well prepared and in place to serve needs.
During those years working on the streets, we learned that when people are desperate and hungry, they are more violent, more unlikely to co-operate with authorities, they are sick more often, which adds to an already struggling health care system, and they often turn to more drugs and alcohol in order to cope with their condition. Psychologically and physically, people that are well fed are recovering quicker and are more likely to become contributors to a healthy society rather than a draw on it. People that are underfed, experience a harder time in finding and keeping a job. Our ultimate goal is to keep feeding all those that slip through the cracks in the system which is currently in place, and when the time comes, to be able to save as many people as possible without any additional burden to the taxpayer.
The project will be supervised by a professional builder and all building codes would be adhered to. There will be a few core families that will be permanent residents who will oversee the entire project and act as leaders to the underprivileged. Of course, one primary goal is not only to provide necessities of life and to give them new skills but to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them back into society. With relation to this aspect, the ministry has already demonstrated that it is very successful, with countless testimonies of changed lives.
We would be very interested in working with interested parties to ensure that this project goes forward and succeeds.
God Bless you in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,
On Behalf of Street Church Ministries
Article was first created 2010-08-09