Rachel’s Gift, the final episode: Rachel Speaks for Herself

This is the eighth and final episode of Rachel’s Gift”.  Listen as Rachel finally reveals her “Gift”.  Invite your friends to listen and ‘catch up’ on previous episodes.  If you missed episodes go to ‘Recent Posts’ from November 28 (right hand column).

Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s Rachel: 

Thanks for your support for our Passion 4 Youth Art program this Christmas.  Help us continue this life-changing program.  Designate a donation today! Just click the ‘Donate’ button.  Thanks for your special gift!

Rachel’s Gift, Episode Seven: Looking towards the future

Rachel’s Gift is an 8 part series until December 23.  To listen to the audio backgrounder, click:  Rachel’s Gift episode 7  If you missed episodes go to ‘Recent Posts’ (right hand column), beginning November 28.

“I don’t like to look too far into the future, it’s overwhelming and you don’t really know what the future holds.  If I think about the future, I start to think, ‘I can’t do it’ and stuff like that.

Right now I just have small goals.  Like I am looking forward to the training to do street outreach, and start with that.  I want to help people, people that are like, in my position, and do what I can to really help in the outreach program. (Rachel  has joined our Urban Intervention Training and is preparing to do street outreach to people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Ottawa).

I’m praying a lot about what I am being called to.  I do my devotions every day, and read my bible every day.  I try to think about what God or Jesus would do and learn as much as I can.  I’m a new Christian I guess, and I want to help people.

A lot of my friends ask me ‘How did you do it? How did you do it?’ and I tell them, ‘It’s Jesus and the methadone program. I say both  ‘cause if you just say Jesus, they’ll say, like ‘Yah.  OK. Whatever,’ and not listen.  But it’s more than the methadone program.  I try to help them understand the change in my life.  We talk about the methadone, and then somehow they always end up asking about Jesus.  It’s true.  If I didn’t have Jesus, and if I didn’t have a relationship with him, I don’t think I would be clean.  He just led me to the right places.

The fact that He came to the earth, died on the cross, that He died for me, that’s what it’s all about.  That’s what Christmas is all about.  Because of what He has done for me, the least thing I could do is to live for Him. I just keep seeing things in my life that He keeps doing for me, and prayers that have been answered.  I used to be, ‘Yeah, God and all that,’ but now there’s just too much that He’s done for me, I just can’t deny it now.  There’s just too much God in my life to deny it now.”

In our Final EpisodeListen as Rachel herself recounts her story about the Gift this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 and 5. 

THEN, starting Wednesday, return to our website to see Rachel make a video appearance and share a brief testimony of her life.  It’s a Miracle!  It’s a Gift to us all!  Merry Christmas!

Rachel’s Gift, Episode Six: Growing and Developing

Rachel’s Gift is an 8 part series until December 23. To listen to the audio backgrounder, click:  Rachel’s Gift episode 6.  If you missed episodes go to ‘Recent Posts’ (right hand column).

“I really think the work skills program is a big part of why I’ve stayed clean.  It has given me structure.  I have made some goals and I am working on my goals.

 The way you guys talk to me, it’s not like I’m on a program, it’s like I work here. We go for lunch together and it’s really cool.  I’ve never had this kind of structure in my life before, and having  people really talk to me is new.  People are not like talking down to me, just telling me what they think I want to hear, they just accept me for who I am.

 In the work skills program, they say you should be responsible if you want to be a part of the program.  You can’t be part of the program and then not follow up.  They will hold you to what you say, you know?  They won’t accept anything else from you.

 If I didn’t have this place to come to, I don’t know where I’d be.  I’d have too much free time to think about things and well you know…  This place is Christian based, and that helps me a lot.

There is a light that God’s people have and I wanted the happiness that they have.   I started going to church, going back to church just over a year ago.  I haven’t felt better –  ever.

 Erin at the office is kind of my boss. It’s going really good.  If she knows there’s something bugging me, she’ll come to talk to me like a real person.  The other day I was upset and I thought she was upset with me, and she said, ‘No, I am not upset with you’.  We talked.  Then she wouldn’t let me leave without praying for me, which was really cool, ’cause I know she really cares.  Nobody expects anything from you.  They are always encouraging you.

 I used to think it was so hard, ‘cause I felt totally alone, but now I am not alone.  I have so much hope.  Totally, lots of hope.  I opened a bank account today.  All right, yeah!” 

Next Week: Closer and closer to Christmas and closer and closer to the revelation of Rachel’s Gift.  Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to this great story.  We do not receive on-going government funding for our programs, but instead rely on the generosity of people who care, just like you.  Why not make a special Christmas donation to help us continue our youth street outreach programs.  Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Rachel’s Gift, Episode Five: The Birth of Hope

Rachel’s Gift is an 8 part series until December 23.  To listen to the audio backgrounder, click: Rachel’s Gift episode 5   If you missed episodes go to ‘Recent Posts’ (right hand column).. 

I was on the streets and my boyfriend took me to some of the drop ins in the city. He took me to the OIM drop in – I didn’t even know there was a drop in there.  It was pretty cool.

I came to the OIM office probably about two  years ago.  It must have been Christmas or something, because the spread you guys had out on the table was awesome.  We had lots and lots of food.   It was really, really cool. 

I started to come to the drop in all the time, and one day Jason [youth outreach worker] came up to me and said, “Hey would you be interested in coming to our youth art program?”  When he talked to me, he actually got through to me.  It was like, hey, somebody actually cared for me. 

The next youth event was the art show at the church.  It was really cool.  I saw all the stuff the kids were doing, how happy they were, it was really cool. I didn’t know that about them.  I knew them from the street but I didn’t know that there was anything like this art group.  

There isn’t anything else out there like this.

I started going to the art group all the time.  It is so different from the life on the street.  The street life is drugs, drugs, and more drugs.  At the art group there is something so real, like its real life.  I haven’t seen that in a long time, probably ever.  It’s just like normal everyday kids.  You don’t see normal everyday kids on the streets.

I go to the art group all the time.  I look forward to it.  When I come to the office on Thursdays (work skills program), I don’t even go back home in case I fall asleep and miss art group.  So I just stay downtown until art group.

I am so looking forward to the next art show.  I haven’t been able to show any of my art yet.  I have a couple of pieces, maybe three.  My mom’s really looking forward to coming and my brother too.

It has made a big difference in the last couple of months. 

It makes me think, ‘Yeah, I can do this’.

Next Week:  Amazed at how she has been accepted into the community, Rachel shares her feelings about finally belonging to a community of caring people.

Rachel’s Gift, Episode Three, “My first line, and move to Ottawa”

Rachel’s Gift is an 8 part series until December 23.  To listen to the audio backgrounder, click:  Rachel’s Gift episode 3 If you missed episodes go to ‘Recent Posts’ (right hand column).

So I was at a party and I saw my mom doing a line of coke and I was shocked.   “Wuh?  What are you doing?” and lost my mind and I started to party real hard.  I was confused and concerned and kinda wondering all at the same time.

 I really started to think.  My mom was using a lot, and using more and drinking and using coke and I was wondering why this was so much better than your children, than loving your children – using coke that is.

 I love my mom a lot, and I still do.  Whatever it was about coke, it must be good. That’s what my thinking was.  I did my first line of coke shortly after that.  I was seventeen.

 I had been living on my own, but one of the things that happened when I discovered coke was, I couldn’t pay my rent anymore.  I moved in with my boyfriend and his mom.  I worked a couple of places, but I was always going in hung over.  I had to get out of that small town.

 I moved to Ottawa and I moved in with my dad. I had nowhere else to go.  I ended up meeting this guy that my dad introduced me to, which ended up being his crack dealer, and I started dating him. My Dad was doing a lot of crack then and I ended up paying the rent – or trying at least.  I was working a bit, but I was partying hard at the same time.  I don’t know why, but my dad really got mad at me.  I mean, he was using all the time then, not working, making deals, and I guess he looked at me and couldn’t stand to see me doing what I was doing – with the drugs and all that.

 I lasted three months and then got my eviction notice – signed by the mayor. They (the authorities) basically brought boxes, packed my stuff and moved me out.  My brother was in jail, but his girlfriend had an extra room and I moved in with her.

By this time I was selling drugs big time with the guy that I met through my dad.  Every day was the same – using more and more, all the time.  I got busted and went to jail for a while.

  When I got out of jail I had nowhere to go, I was just like floating around.

 Next week:  Rachel really does ‘hit the bottom’.  More drugs, living on the streets, the crack house… the cycle continues with no apparent escape.  What will happen next?

OIM does not receive on-going government funding to operate any of our programs, but instead we rely on the good will donations of concerned citizens and business owners in the National Capital Region.  We need your help to continue our youth outreach program.  Please make a donation today. Click “Donate” at the top of this page.  Thanks!

Gladness and Sadness

Our Christmas Dinner was held this past Tuesday, January 18.  Three weeks after Christmas and people who received their cheques before Christmas are ready for a hot turkey dinner.  Seems to work for everyone.

Two settings of eighty people each, tickets are distributed and it works well.  This year we had an East Coast Trio that did well: one of our Newfoundland guys said, “I close my eyes and I’m back home.”

Volunteers cooking, serving, cleaning, visiting – with our friends from the streets sharing words of thanks and appreciation.  One Christmas treat bag each, along with one sock filled with more treats. The other sock was inside the first one – I asked.

So, near the end of the second setting I leave through the kitchen door to return my camera to the car.

I noticed someone standing, well leaning, on the wall outside the main door, just out of view of anyone inside.  He was standing on one foot, his leather dress boot in one hand, while at the same time, he is putting on a fresh emptied sock from the gift table.  I looked away to preserve some of my friend’s dignity, and my mind was flooded with thoughts filled with emotion.

I didn’t notice any used socks around when I returned: I wonder if he had any socks on at all.  The leather dress boots had seen better days, and then only inside, but the winter had turned them white with salt, and there was enough water to penetrate the leather right to the bare feet.

What could happen to a person that he would not have socks?  This is sadness.

Then, what could be a better Christmas present than a clean, fresh, warm pair of socks?  Can’t get much better than that!  That is gladness.

Sadness and gladness all wrapped up in a simple exercise of putting on a pair of socks.  The sad story behind this we may never know, but we could imagine there’s a lot of stuff hidden in that story.

Then we have to consider the bigger picture of a bunch of volunteer stuffing socks with candies, hoping to bring a little light into someone’s life – if only they knew just how appropriate their gift really was!

A small thing really, for most of us – but a pretty  large thing for our sockless, water soaked, leather booted friend.

You have to wonder if all the preparation of the meal, the music, the gift bags (and sock bags), the venue, the volunteers, and so many countless deeds of kindness that went into the whole Christmas dinner in January… was so that one man, who had cold, wet boots, could have warm feet for just a wee while.

And know that Someone cared.

Add a Homeless Person to Your Christmas List – II

Merry Christmas!  Just a quick note today, on the eve of Christmas eve, to invite you to do a last minute gift purchase – for someone experiencing homelessness – for someone you don’t even know.  Click on the banner above for more info.

AND, if you would visit www.chri.ca, you can listen to the podcast of the interview I did with the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson.  This is not a political maneuvering or ‘nail him to the post’ interview, but an opportunity to hear our Mayor’s heart regarding the less fortunate in our city: how at an early age, he learned to care, what he is doing now, and some ideas how citizens of Ottawa (and beyond) can become involved.

Take opportunity today and make a donation.  We’ll be sure it gets to where it’s needed most!

Add a Homeless Person to Your Christmas List

Merry Christmas!  I did some research about how much money Canadians spent last Christmas – it amounted to thirty-four and a half BILLION dollars ($34.5B).  Then the latest stats indicated a family of four would spend between $1,200 and $1,500 on average, with a single Canadian spending an average of $809.

Canadians are generous people.  In fact, in 2009, Canada tied with Ireland for the third highest donators to charity in the world.  Charitable giving to religious organizations ranked three times higher than the second category (health institutions). 

We have enough for ourselves, and we have enough to help others!

This Christmas, why not show your generosity by adding a homeless person to your Christmas list?  It’s common for us to add an additional person to our Christmas shopping list from time to time, what about giving something special to people who really don’t have anything (and who are not really on anyone’s list!)?  This would really make a difference in someone’s life.

You could give a Winter Street Survival Kit or buy someone a Christmas Dinner for $2.69, or make a donation and we will ensure help gets to where it is most needed.

On the banner above are ways that you can quickly and easily add a homeless person to your Christmas list. I have found that people who call the streets their home are very, very grateful for the acts of kindness and gifts that are given to them.   On behalf of those who will be recipients of your generous giving, let me say, “Thank you.”

Tell a friend, challenge them to step up to the plate, and make a difference in your world!