Thank you to all the supporters of the RI Dream Center Hope for the Homeless Winter Survival Backpack Sponsors!!!!
If that’s not a mouthful, I don’t know what is!!!
Here’s the scoop, for those of you that don’t know what’s up – every year we hand out 300 free backpacks to the homeless filled with winter survival supplies. Yeah, it’s expensive, and yeah, it’s a lot of work….but it is soooooooo worth it!!!
To get it done, we rely on friends and family of the RI Dream Center for support. One of the main fundraisers is the Walkathon. Another way we raise support is simply by asking for supplies, and year after year I am totally amazed by the outstanding efforts of ordinary, everyday citizens of our community that help provide supplies for our backpacks.
Ok, so let’s set the table – here’s what we hand out:
Other helpful items are hand sanitizer, alcohol free mouthwash, toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.
As you can see, it’s a lot – just multiply that list by 300!!!!
We have already started receiving some donations, but if you would like to help us out by donating any of the above necessities it would be great! If you would like to donate anything, leave a comment below and we will figure out the best way to connect!
So, here are the dates I promised:
HFH Walkathon – October 11th at the PT Church Parking Lot at 8:30 am
Filling of the Backpacks – November 11th at PT Church at 6:00 pm until…..whenever we’re done!
Backpack Hand Outs – November 15th State House Lawn at 7:00 am
If you would like to help out with ANYTHING you have read about in this post, please let me know and we will put you in contact with someone running each of these events!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog!!!
The RI Dream Center had a wonderful opportunity to sit and talk with Matthew Barnett, of the Dream Center in Los Angeles, last year – and he helped us tremendously with support as well as advice for our up-and-coming organization. Now, it’s time to give back to the Dream Center out in LA.
The city of LA is working towards a law that would prohibit public feeding of the poor in certain sections of the city. While I do not know the landscape of that city, or the reasons that the public officials are working on this, I do know that their plans will impact and impede the work of the Dream Center out in LA. Therefore, I ask that you take a look at the request below from Matthew Barnett asking for the city to reconsider; and if it seems right to you, I would ask that you sign the petition. I hope they can all come to a satisfactory compromise.
I can only imagine how the RI Dream Center would be impacted if we were restricted from feeding and clothing those less fortunate. Thankfully, we have been very fortunate. In fact, our city has welcomed us with open arms and I believe it will continue to do so.
So, please take a moment to take a look at the open letter from Matthew Barnett below and sign the petition if you feel led to.
Thanks for your time!!
Los Angeles City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti: We ask that the Los Angeles City Council retract Motion 13-1238 to restrict non-commercial feeding programs in public rights of way.
The Los Angeles City Council is considering a ban on the public feeding those in need. That means that charities, churches and other organizations that feed those in need could face large fines and even arrest if they are caught feeding the homeless.
If the City of Los Angeles is successful banning public feeding single mothers, young families, veterans, the elderly, homeless, and food insecure individuals that depend on The Dream Center and other agencies to help provide much needed meals and food will go hungry.
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Feeding America have previously reported that 1,636,100 people were food insecure in Los Angeles. Included in this number are 643,640 children, 31% of whom are likely ineligible for federal nutrition programs. Although the federal government funds seventeen food assistance programs, 52% of food insecure individuals in Los Angeles County do not qualify under federal guidelines for these nutrition programs.
If the government isn’t feeding the hungry, and won’t allow nonprofit organizations, churches, and compassionate individuals to fill in the gap, what hope do these people have to survive in our city?
As the pastor at The Dream Center, I’ve seen firsthand the difference that we make in feeding those in need. Every month we provide over 36,000 hot meals, groceries to 40,000 people and 1,000,000 pounds of food to relieve hunger. I look into the faces of young mothers every month and I see the relief they have when they know that their child will have something to eat. We are one of many organizations that do this work, because the need is so great.
The last thing our city needs, in the midst of rising homelessness, is to restrict the goodwill of the people. We house hundreds of families and individuals who would otherwise be homeless and have invested millions of dollars to help our community — and not depend upon the government to provide the solution. Please help support this important cause by signing the petition.
Well, Tuesday nights are cordoned off for me and my wife as “date night”, and we got to spend time together tonight filling backpacks for the homeless…
Every year the Dream Center hands out about 300 backpacks filled with winter necessities to the homeless in Providence, and tonight was the night they were filled. This year we filled 301.
There are any number of people who have been working diligently all year to make this night a possibility, and to them I say thanks….and Saturday morning when the backpacks are finally given out to people who really need them – your whole year’s worth of hard work will come to fruition.
It was a little crazy at first when we got there – lots of work to do and soooo many opinions on which was the most efficient way to organize the stuffings and fill the backpacks…but once we finally got going we had a blast…all the volunteers ended up working as one cohesive unit within an hour and we were buzzing like super busy bees in a beehive…it was pretty cool, because even a couple of the volunteers were formerly homeless – it felt special working side-by-side with someone who used to need this backpack I held in my hand knowing that this year he is on the other side…this year he is helping fill it for someone else!
So, in closing, I hope you enjoy these pics as much as I enjoyed my date-night with my special someone!!!
Well, it’s been a busy few days at the RI Dream Center.
Last night, we had an RIDC meeting and we talked about a lot of exciting things coming up in the next month or so.
We talked about our annual upcoming Hope for the Homeless Event coming up on November 9th (we are having a festival for the homeless and raising awareness for their plight on Nov. 9). We’ve held this event at a number of different churches throughout the years – this year it will be at our home office at Praise Tabernacle Church.
We also talked about organizing the inventory and purchasing the rest of the items needed for our backpack drive (we are handing out 300 backpacks filled with winter necessities to the homeless on Nov. 16), It’s always a blast hanging out with the team as they hand out the backpacks each year.
We also talked about some really great, strategic partnerships we are forming with other organizations working towards the same goals we are reaching towards. I am really excited about this opportunity. That’s all I can say for now…but I am really excited about these partners (that is an enormous understatement).
The whole time we were talking about our upcoming events, we had a whole ‘nother planning committee meeting in one of the other rooms to plan the H4H event out in greater detail. It’s looking like they are planning a walk downtown and through Kennedy Plaza to raise awareness for the homeless. This year’s event has the makings of the biggest and best H4H event thus far.
All this was going on while Praise Tab was having its youth service, Youth Redefined…it’s exciting being there with so many other people, working towards the good of the community and building off of everyone else’s energy…we are all feeding each other and pushing each other to do things bigger and better.
And the same thing happened tonight…George got everything ready for me for the Food Truck tonight because I was short my regular prep-guy…while he was preparing the soups, hot cocoa, etc, the leader of the Narcotics Anonymous meeting was setting up in the next room over. Once the Food Truck finally got going, the church had its prayer meeting in the next room over on the other side! When I came back to clean up after the Food Truck, the NA meeting was just finishing up…it is an exciting time to be involved in all this stuff…and I truly believe we are making a significant impact in the community.
Tonight, for instance, we fed seventy-two people on the Food Truck. It was the first real cold night of the season I have been out there since last Winter, and a lot of the people we feed are people we have been feeding Winter after Winter…some seem to be stuck in the system, but I really hope they can find a way out. One of my regulars loves coming out to hear my music (tonight I had a Stevie Wonder mixtape blasting through my little boombox)…they call him Alabama and he stays over by Prairie Ave. Sometimes he is completely drunk and just dances to the music the whole time, and other times he is sober and just wants to say hi. He always says, “I knew it was you because I could hear your music!!!” No matter what, he always brings a smile to our faces, and it’s these simple, yet significant, interactions that really make the Food Truck special to be a part of.
But, the whole night was not rosy on the truck…(by the way, thank you to the gentleman that donated that new truck to us…we thoroughly enjoyed the heat tonight….our old truck did not have heat!!!)…because we came upon a set of two Providence police cars and a fire truck with their lights flashing on Broad Street…and sure enough, there was a woman completely laid out (drunk, high, not really sure, but she looked to be in a really bad way) and she had one of the yellow Live It Up hoodies we gave away last year as Christmas presents to the homeless. I still am not quite sure who it was…but to see that woman laying on the side of the road, completely motionless, broke my heart and I still can’t get the image out of my head. Imagine, last year at Christmastime, she came into the church and we gave her a sweatshirt…10 months later she is using it to keep her warm, but is passed out on the side of the road…
It hurts me even more because tomorrow we have another event for our homeless women…tomorrow morning, at our office, we are hosting another I Need You To Survive event, where we bus homeless women in and give them free makeovers, haircuts, dyes, etc…the difference between being passed out on Broad Street and showing up to our event tomorrow could be razor-thin for these ladies…and I hope that we can help them all!
In fact, to tie it all together, let me take this opportunity to brag on Maria…I first met Maria several years ago at a shelter on Cranston Street. She was doing ok, but still getting into trouble in certain areas…fast-forward a few years, she has turned things around significntly…she is off the streets in her own apartment with her new husband (she and William recently celebrated their one-year-anniversary! they were married through The Covenant, another service provided through the RI Dream Center) and Maria and her husband are super-faithful in helping me on Friday nights with the Food Truck. Tomorrow, she will be dropping by to take part of INU2S to get her hair done…I am sooooo happy that Maria is moving in the right direction and am extremely proud of her. As I drove by the woman laying on the street tonight, I was struck by the thought of how many other women this woman was representing, and as I looked over at Maria, I thought to myself, “how can we help more and more and more….just one at a time….just make an impact….just be there to help someone make a change…”…I’ll cry myself to sleep tonight thinking about that woman passed out on the side of the road…police and rescue were taking care of her…I’m so glad that Maria is helping to take care of others…
Well, Dream Center Diary, I think that is enough for tonight…we will be back at it soon…as I think about all the ways people are touched in that building on a nightly basis, I am truly excited about what our future holds…imagine the impact you and I can make together for those less fortunate throughout the next fifty years!!!
Thanks so much for coming back to check in!
November is right around the corner…and you know what that means…colder weather, Thanksgiving, family-time, Christmas, winter…but we’re not there just yet…
November 16 kicks off National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (check out the National Coalition for the Homeless website for more info (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/projects/awareness/index.html)…and that means the Dream Center is preparing for our annual Hope for the Homeless event.
As in years past, we’re handing out 300 backpacks filled with winter necessities to the homeless to help them prepare for the upcoming winter. Passing out backpacks has become one of my most favorite traditions, and I am so proud of the team for faithfully raising funds, filling backpacks, and handing them out year after year.
If you have a chance, take a look at this video from a couple of years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_fWbJuPr5k On that day we passed out backpacks then blessed the ladies with makeovers 🙂
It really brings things into perspective for me, working with folks who have no more than what they can carry in their backpack everyday…even for those that are sleeping in shelters, most need to load all their belongings up into the backpack when they are forced out in the morning and need to carry everything they own with them all day until they can find some rest back at the shelter later that night.
We relish the opportunity to bless them with a brand new backpack filled with things that you and I often take for granted. This year, we expect to stuff the backpacks with the following:
- Shaving cream
- Nail clipper
- Toilet tissue
- First aid kits
- Lip balm
- Cocoa packets
- Instant soup
- Towel Powder/foot powder
- Peanut butter crackers
- Oatmeal Packet
- Pocket warmers
- Cough drops
Yeah, it’s a lot…but this might be the only gift some of these individuals gets this year…and if we can help one person survive another cold RI Winter then we are going to do EVERYTHING in our power to do so.
So, if there is anything you can do to help, it would be greatly appreciated.
You might find a great deal on hand warmers and tooth brushes, or you might want to donate to the cause…whatever you can do to help would be greatly appreciated. Every little bit helps – your gift might be that gift that helps someone.
Here’s how you can get involved…
- buy supplies and drop them off at our office at 330 Park Ave. in Cranston
- send us a check made payable to the RI Dream Center and drop it in the mail
- donate electronically through the PayPal link on our website: http://ridreamcenter.com/index.php/donors/
We have one more unique opportunity as well. We are having a walk-a-thon to help raise awareness and will be selling sponsorships that will be displayed on the team’s RIDC t-shirts. For a gift of $50, we will list your business name on the t-shirt announcing your sponsorship of this great event.
Every little bit helps… We really appreciate any donations you can help us with.
Thanks so much for checking in today – be sure to check in soon for future posts to the Dream Center Diary!
We’d love to hear from you:
- online: http://www.ridreamcenter.com/
- phone: 401-396-2743
- email the Dream Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
- email the Dream Center blog: email@example.com