Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mother's Day at PATH Achieve

We've been privileged to plan dinner on Mother's Day at PATH Achieve since we began volunteering there.  This year, I think it would be a lot of fun to take a few grills over to PATH and go all out with an outdoor bbq -- not burgers and hot dogs, but ribs, chicken, links, wings, and tons of sides.  We need to plan some games for kids, as well as activities for the kid in all of us.  We'll also do some fun giveaways for the moms.  So mark Sunday, May 11 on your calendar.  It will be a great way to celebrate a special day.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


From Dr. King's last speech, delivered on the eve of his death, April 3, 1968, in support of 1300 striking Memphis sanitation workers:

It's all right to talk about "long white robes over yonder," in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about "streets flowing with milk and honey," but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thoughts on the Eve of Neighbors Lunch

I'm really excited about tomorrow's lunch. From my perspective, it's a success already. I think some of the things that have me thinking tonight merit some reflection.
  • Over thirty people are planning to attend! On Monday of this week, I was hoping we'd make it to twelve!
  • Almost half of the attendees are not members of this church. That's a remarkable thing. A huge step in opening our doors and being a known, relevant neighbor in the community.
  • We received a request from a university student in Ireland who is writing a dissertation on homelessness. She can't attend, obviously, but we're sending her a DVD of the event.
  • The Leader and News Press gave us a huge boost. I was doubtful a letter to the editor would be published on such short notice, but both papers were able to run the piece, and it doubled our attendance.
  • By "coincidence," the Burbank City Council happened to form a subcommittee on Tuesday night to investigate stepping up the City's services for the homeless. The news coverage hit the same day as our letter to the editor. This issue is on the hearts and minds of a lot of people in our community. We are at the front of it, and it's no accident.
  • God has brought us to this time and place to do something in our community. The relationships we have developed over the past two years with PATH made it possible to move quickly on this issue when the number of chronically homeless people coming through our doors rose. It's something to be excited about, but we need to remember that along with such a calling as this comes a tremendous responsibility to rise to the challenge.
Some questions on my mind tonight going into tomorrow...
  • What are the challenges within ourselves we must overcome to be effective servants to this population?
  • What external challenges will we face in this service?
  • There's one guy, in particular, I'm thinking of. Will we be able to help him?
  • Tonight Diana and I did some prep work at the church building. Someone had bedded down for the night on the front porch. Will the time we spend together tomorrow honor him?
  • What if we run out of food?! (just being honest)
  • What happens next?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Neighbors Lunch Is Saturday!

Our first Neighbors Lunch is just two days away. I'm very excited to kick this off, especially with this first topic. It's something very practical not only for our community, but specifically for our church!

Chronic homelessness touches us all. Everyone has had an encounter with a chronically homeless person. And oftentimes it happens at the church building. People in dire straits look to churches for help. That means we have to know how to offer it, and this is a population with very specific needs that require very specific strategies.

That's why we've invited PATH to give us a crash course on this population along with the ins and outs of outreach. Please join us for lunch this Saturday, from 12:00 to 1:30pm. Go to the website to RSVP, or join our Facebook event, where you can also invite your friends.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Save the Date: March 1st

It's coming together! March 1st at 12pm will be our first "community lunch" event. Rudy Salinas, Director of Community Outreach for PATH, will be our guest speaker as we discuss how to reach out to the homeless in our communities. I'm excited about the way this has come together so quickly.

Now, I need some help. The plan is to host a lunch event like this once every quarter. This first one will focus on outreach to the homeless. Future topics might include financial planning, education, parenting, book discussions... you tell me. Think about contacts and friends you have who are "experts" in a given area. Would they be willing to share some thoughts over lunch? The idea is to find things that interest a broad array of people in our area.

Secondly, the quarterly lunches need a name. Community Lunch is a little blah, I think, too generic. I'm toying with Neighbors Lunch. These will hopefully be broad enough to draw a crowd, but still foster an intimate, connective experience during which people will be reminded that neighborhoods and cities are made up of individuals who can become acquaintances, friends, and brothers and sisters.

So give it a shot. I need your help.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let's Be Students

Last week I went to PATH's second Faith Matters luncheon.  I was on a mission this time.  We've had a slight rise in the number of homeless men stopping by lately.  While it's been great to have these guys stop in, borrow a couple bucks, trade names, and offer a blessing to them on their way, we're woefully unprepared to truly reach out to people who are wrestling with the unimaginable difficulties of addiction, hunger, mental illness, and outdoor city living day in and day out.  We can do our best to offer a friendly face and some temporary company, but we're not trained or equipped to go much beyond that.  I wanted to talk to someone at PATH about this to see if we could somehow get wiser to all this so that we can help a little more.

As usual, PATH has come through.

In the next month or so, we'll be scheduling a session during which one of PATH's outreach specialists will train us in the basics of interaction and assistance to people who are chronically homeless.  We'll learn about safety, respect, referral services, and other topics that will help us be more effective neighbors to this population.  I'm really excited about this opportunity.  Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Burbank Comes Through

I am impressed by the Burbank City Council's 4-0 vote (David Gordon abstained, citing insufficient time to make a reasonable decision) to open a winter shelter at the armory. The California National Guard notified the County just a few weeks ago that they'd decided to remodel the Glendale armory (the usual host) during the winter months. At the eleventh hour, Burbank defied my expectations, to be honest, and voted last night to approve the armory's use.

The County had said they wouldn't push the issue if Burbank voted it down, even though state law makes armories available as winter shelters and supercedes a city's will. This was the tri-city area's only hope for a winter shelter.

There was a strong turnout of support for the shelter at last night's meeting from the religious community as well as other local service providers, such as BTAC, according to the Leader's coverage.

Hats off to the council and its leadership on this issue, especially to Mayor Marsha Ramos.
The passage of the vote elated Mayor Marsha Ramos, who looked past Friday toward the future of Burbank's homeless services.

"I celebrate this moment," she said. "As a community, we have historically moved mountains. Let's look forward to the future and say, 'What can we do to take our share permanently?'"

Read the Leader's story here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Local News Roundup

A little lighter this week. This weekly post is more work than we expected, but hey, getting to write in the first person plural (the Royal We, if you prefer, and we do) is worth the effort.

Headline: Mixed use development The Burbank Collection is on schedule to open in June, provided drought continues. Read the story.
Our Take: You can't beat the location if you're looking for new urban pedestrian living (and if you've got $700,000 laying around). San Fernando Road continues to attract everyone. Young professionals, families, empty nesters, teens and the homeless. This area is without a doubt Burbank's primary community gathering place.

Headline: News Press editorial supports PATH's First Step application. Read the story.
Our Take: Good for the News Press. We'd reiterate that a program like First Step seems unlikely to cause an influx of chronically homeless persons. It is not a walk-in facility. It will be a lot of work to convince most of this population to come inside, but it's the right thing to do.

And just for fun, a nifty political campaign contribution record based on your Southern California zip code can be found here. We're not sure what you'd use it for unless you're working on a campaign, but what the heck.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 2007 Adopt-a-Block

We had another great morning of clean-up and bonding over soggy cigarette butts through the City of Glendale's Adopt-a-Block program last weekend. We pick up trash in our neighborhood on the second Saturday of each month. Last week marked our 17th month! Maybe one day we'll get our signs posted (ahem, City of Glendale...).

Enjoy the pictures... (and I know what you're thinking, it looks like we had as many photographers as we did cleaners, but hey, without them, you're stuck reading me!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Local News Roundup

Today marks the beginning of a new weekly feature here at Glenoaks and Spazier - the Local News Roundup. Each Friday we'll recap a few of the local news stories that affect our communities.

Story: PATH Achieve's app for a 25 bed shelter targeting the chronically homeless approved by Glendale Housing Authority, now heads to County. Read the story.
Our take: Cheers to the GHA for approving this program despite concerns of attracting more homeless people to the city. Entrance to the program will be by referral only, not by walk-in. I hope that Glendale might see the opportunity to be a moral leader in serving the homeless population among Southern California communities. Finding cities outside of LA willing to host services like this has been a challenge for the county, which would fund the project.

Story: Friday night Burbank hit-and-run kills pedestrian. Read the story.
Our take: From running the red light to leaving the scene, this is a tragic case of a teenager who had no business driving in the first place. A sobering story for drivers' ed instructors, parents, and young drivers.

Story: NBC will leave Burbank, relocate to Universal. M. David Paul & Assoc. likely buyers. Read the story.
Our take: This is a real bummer for Burbank, as NBC has been a fixture for decades. However, it sounds like there will be no empty space on the lot. The question of who will fill that space looms. NBC has impressive plans for a "green" skyscraper to be built over the Universal City Redline stop in Los Angeles, modeled after their 30 Rockefeller facility.

Story: House Committee approves Genocide recognition resolution. Read the story.
Our take: The timing is not ideal on this, not only because of Iraq, but because this happened nine decades ago. It's way overdue. The Turkish government seems bent on glossing over history and protecting "Turkishness" at the expense of truth. Their diplomatic retaliation threats are absurd, bullyish, and indefensible. Unfortunately, they may also be real. Whatever the outcome of the House vote in November, at the very least, it's a good thing that this is being discussed on a national and international level.