BOHO Faith community meeting notes of June 2, 2011

Summary of BOHO Faith Community Meeting
7 p.m., June 2, 2011 at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church

The meeting began with a welcome and introductions. The ensuing discussion had three primary themes:
1. some of the vision of BOHO regarding assistance for our homeless neighbors,
2. ideas from congregations about possible community building,
3. identifying the needs of BOHO to serve our homeless.

Here are some of the specific threads of the conversation related to each theme:

1. The vision of BOHO regarding assistance for our homeless neighbors
-All congregations can be involved in serving the homeless…some with hosting emergency warming centers (EWCs), others in different ways. There are many needs.
-Supporting the EWC guests with life skills, including resumes, job searches, etc. Chris met with someone in Denver who does this; perhaps we can incorporate some of the approach into work at the EWCs?
-Employing folks who are homeless at the EWCs; small successes can really build self-esteem. We do this with the intern program. Could it expand?
-Arranging for a group living home (like a boarding house) with heart; remembering that getting housing is more than walls and a roof—folks need support in the transition
-Visiting with the guests at various locations (different facilities, at the FEEDs)—building community, offering time and interest to one another in conversation
-Find opportunities to make staying at the EWC feel more “regular”—eating snacks, watching a movie
-Building rapport—treating guests with respect, dignity, support, encouragement; it’s what BOHO does
-Remembering those who die as part of the community; Chris spoke eloquently to all the night after a guest died at a EWC
-Helping congregations connect with our homeless neighbors in ways that will build up all who participate—those with homes and those without; we yearn to become one community not differentiated by our housing
-Financial support—need to increase EWC staff salaries, need funds for programs (intern housing, EWC truck and equipment, training for staff and volunteers), need some organizational infrastructure to keep it all together
-Supporting the FEED program
-Supporting the Medical Respite Boulder program (home care for those with no homes)
-Keep open communication among all—congregations, other volunteers, BOHO staff, EWC guests, Boulder community

2. ideas from congregations about community building
-music nights at the EWCs
-over-the-counter medications at the EWCs
-cooking for the EWC guests
-hand crafts with the EWC guests—teaching and conversation
-building an online exchange where specific needs can be posted and possibly be met by another; Amelia Dickerson announced that she has set up a group on http://www.neighborgoods.net (details are included in these notes)
-it was noted that hospitality was a function of congregations but it has become a service industry; perhaps we have to reclaim it?
-supporting EWC guests in life-building skills
-inviting BOHO representatives to speak to congregations about programs and financial needs
-invite other local congregations to participate with BOHO in various programs

3. identifying the needs of BOHO in developing ways to serve our homeless.
-Want to get a truck to carry all of the equipment needed at the EWCs—blankets, cleaning equipment, gear for guests
-Identifying liaison with each congregation
-Creating a functional infrastructure with the congregations to encourage a wide range of activities with appropriate support
-Financial support of BOHO programs for our homeless

In talking about how to move forward, the group felt that there need to be ways for congregations to consider alternative ideas of how to become involved with BOHO and then make commitments as organizations and as individuals. All are interested in the “cross-pollination” and sharing of ideas across congregations. Some alternatives were discussed, including the desire to have anyone attend meetings—homed and homeless.

BOHO will put forward some ideas about how to organize the activities and communication then call a meeting to move this forward. Details to be announced.

Many thanks to all who attended and to those who wanted to attend but could not be present.

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