COME AS YOU ART, Art Auction & Coffee House

We wish to invite you to our next PASSION 4 YOUTH ART AUCTION showcasing the artwork and musical talents of street-engaged youth this THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10 from 7pm to 9pm @ Dominion-Chalmers United Church, 355 Cooper St. 

Why an ART PROGRAM for STREET-ENGAGED KIDS?

Imagine growing up with no support, friends, security or encouragement.  Running away from home because of domestic violence and abuse.  You hit the streets with all its darkness, but it’s better than what you left.

It’s like stepping up to the batter’s plate with three strikes already against you.

Then you find there is a safe, clean, dry, welcoming space where you are able to let your creativity flow, join with other people just like you, and find freedom to do whatever you like with paint, canvas and brush.

A volunteer comes along and  looks at your art, and you hear words you have never, ever heard in your entire life: “That is beautiful.  Did you do that?   I would love to have that in my living room.  Can you tell me more about it? What inspired you?”  And they listen to your story.

Can you imagine what that would be like? To have someone you just met show that kind of interest in your life?  When you’ve lived your entire 19 years ‘learning’ you will never amount to anything, never get a job, finish school or make any kind of positive contribution to anyone, anywhere?

Or maybe it’s someone who wants to buy your art, not because they are doing an act of charity, but because they really like your work.  They think it’s great! And you tell them.

A few words of encouragement, just those, might just be enough to turn a life around!

 

Wrongs turning out Right!

Mich and his mother came to be friends of OIM first through our outreach teams and then started coming to the drop in. Mich is 19 and Candace, his mom is in her early thirties.  We developed relationship over several months and Mich joined our Passion 4 Youth art program.  There is a story here that I want to share:

Mich came home to their small apartment and saw his mom lying on the kitchen floor – her third suicide attempt!  He called 911 immediately and after the paramedics came, they told him that if he called just 5 minutes earlier, his mom would not be here.  The next time he came to the art program, he asked if he could speak with our youth outreach worker in the hallway for a few minutes. 

When they were alone, he said, “We’ve been talking about spiritual stuff for a while now.  I’m ready.  I need to have Jesus in my life.”  Mich prayed and so began his spiritual journey with Jesus.

Fast track a few weeks later and Candace asks to speak with me at the drop in.  In the adjoining garden we take a bench and she tells me about some of the things happending in her life and she asks for some advice.  She is scared and doesn’t know what to do.  We talk and conversation comes around to the change in life that Jesus can bring.  Mich joins us and the conversation about spiritual things continues.

“Did I tell you what happened a few weeks ago at the art program?” Mich queried.  I nodded yes.  “How’s it going with you?” I ask.

“I don’t really understand it all – but I sleep each night with my bible right beside me in bed.”

“You know, we have a great program just about to start here at the drop in – it’s called Alpha.  There is a video each week, you ask questions and we talk about the Bible.  Would you guys like to attend?” 

To make a long story short, both Mich and Candace have indicated interest in our Alpha course.  Until then we will work with both mother and son, to help them in their spiritual journeys.

God can take the very worst of situations and turn things around to make good.  If we can be there to be a part of what He is doing, it is a privelege and blessing!

I just started back to school – well adult high school to make up two classes, and then college.”

Eddy turns himself in!

Our youth outreach worker recounted this story of last Monday’s events, and I thought you would be interested.

Eddy was one of the first members of our Passion 4 youth art program. He enjoyed coming every week and worked on building model cars and also a model of a mountain with a stream running from the side. After the first art show he and his girlfriend Sue stopped coming to the group. I caught up with him a few times on outreach and he told me that he was selling too much crack now and could not afford to take a night off. So we just kept telling him that we loved him and that he was welcome to come back whenever he wanted to. Then we stopped hearing from him all together for a few months. At one point his girlfriend Sue contacted me and told me that he had been arrested for selling drugs. A few more months went by and I got a facebook message from Eddy. He told me that he had served 7 months in Jail and then was released to serve the rest of his sentence at a rehab facility in Quebec. He was allowed to go home for a weekend and while at home he used heroin again. When he came back to rehab and failed a drug test and was dismissed from the facility.

At his next court appearance Eddy was informed that he would have to serve a few more months in jail because he failed the drug test. He asked if he could go and call his mother. When he left the room, Eddy got scared and decided to run from the court room. He later called his lawyer who told him that he needed to turn himself in to the authorities. He knew that he should do the right thing but he was very scared to turn himself in.

Eddy asked me what I thought he should do and I told him that he needed to listen to his lawyer. He said that he has never willingly put himself in Jail. It was just too crazy to think about. So over the next few weeks Eddy would contact me and tell me that he was going to turn himself in. But the next day he would not follow through. He called me again and said that he was thinking about turning himself over to authorities in the morning. I told him that if he wanted I would meet him I would meet with him at the Rideau center in the morning and we could go together. That way he could have a friend with him in case he got scared and wanted to run away again. Eddy said that he would like that so we arranged a time to meet. When I arrived at our meeting spot he was already there waiting for me. We hugged and I told him that I was proud of him. I got him some breakfast and sat and talked for a while. I asked him why he felt that he was ready now. He told me that he had just found out that our mutual friend Roni had died of a drug overdose last week. Roni was a good friend to him and her death had a profound effect on him. He decided that if he didn’t want to end up the same way he needed to make some changes in his life. We talked about how this was an opportunity for him to face some of the things that he has been running from. We walked over to the court house together. Along the way Eddy noticed a man sitting on the Mackenzie King Bridge pan handling. Eddy walked over and gave him all but 4 of the cigarettes from his pack, as well as all of the money in his pocket. We went into the court and called his lawyer. The lawyer agreed to meet him there. When the lawyer came we approached one of the police officers stationed at the court house and told him that Eddy was turning himself in. He filled out some paper work gave up his wallet and shoe laces. He looked very scared and started to cry. The officer told him that he was going to process the paper work and be back in about fifteen minutes. In the mean time Eddy was allowed to go outside and have one last smoke.

We walked out to the patio in the back and he lit his cigarette. At this point I reminded him of all the times we had talked about the difference that Jesus could make in his life. We talked about how God’s love for him is unconditional, and that he was going to need Gods strength to overcome the things that were controlling his life. Usually an agnostic, Eddy told me that this time he really believed that what I was saying was true. So I asked if he would like to ask the Lord to be his Savior and give his life to Christ he said that he did. I sat next to him and we prayed together.  When we were done praying we looked up and the police officer was waiting in front of us to take him to the cells. We stood up and walked together with the officer to the elevator.

The officer agreed not to handcuff him until they were downstairs so as not to embarrass him in front of the public. Eddy teared up again and then gave me a hug. I left him my number so that he can continue to call me while he is in jail. He thanked me for staying with him and then asked if I would call his dad and let him know what happened. As I left the court I thought about how proud of Eddy I was. This was very hard for him but he did it anyway. I thanked God for taking what the devil would want to use for harm and turning it into an opportunity to bring my friend into a relationship with him.

It’s a new beginning for Eddy, a fresh start.  Let’s pray that he continues to make good decisions and plans for his future.

 

Now That’s ART!!

Our recent youth art show was a hit!  Great venue, great art, great food and guests – but there is a dynamic to the whole scenario that surpasses them all!  For you ‘bottom liners’, it’s the work of the Master Artist shaping, reforming and molding lives.  That is the real deal. 

One of the gals with yellow spiked hair took the art group camera and just started taking pictures of people, artwork and activities.  Another young man took opportunity to play the guitar and sing.  A second guitar was picked up and strummed.  One of the girls shared some poetry about life on the street, and another gal sang Janis Joplin’s hit “Lord wontcha buy me a Mercedes Benz.”  People from the community mulling and commenting about the art and reviewing its impact.  Art hanging from the ceiling, art displayed on the tables, spoken word and song… and then, well you know I’d come back to it, the living art that made the art.

Moving.  Stirring.  Amazing.  All of the above.

One piece in particular grabbed my attention.  An old school Polaroid camera with some instructions written and taped near the viewfinder, “Look here.”   Another message taped on the side of the camera said, “One picture doesn’t tell the story.”  Curiousity aroused, I took a peek. 

The viewfinder revealed one photograph of a young man sitting on a curb.  No distinctive expression on his face.  Nothing particular about his appearance, dressed in shirt and jeans.  Not ‘flying a sign’ or cap inviting donations.  Just a young man sitting on the curb.

Ah, then I remember the ‘one  picture doesn’t tell the story’ line and my mind races forward at light speed.  How true, not just of this one young man, but the larger picture (sorry about that) about life.  What you see in a moment, what you experience in one interaction, what you can assess or glean from one brief conversation – does not even begin to tell the story.

Then I got angry at myself: how many times have I had the audacity to analyze, scrutinize and evaluate from one brief glimpse, from one short encounter?  Far too many for me to recount here.  How many times have I made my assessment from one snapshot?  Instances started to flood my mind and my head was spinning.

I held the Polaroid at arms’ length, its message penetrating deep into my own soul. I really don’t know much about art, but something was happening here…

The Master Artist was doing a bit of reshaping in me…

GOLF Fund Raiser for Street Youth Outreach

Our street youth art program is really making a difference in young people’s lives.  Street-engaged youth are finding housing, employment, entering programs for reducing their drug use and making better life choices in general.  Each week about fourteen young people come to the art group, but it’s so much more than creating art!

Some of the kids have described it as ‘family’, others as ‘church’, and all as something they really look forward to each week.  Some have described it as the highlight of their week, and look forward to Thursday nights.  It is amazing to watch these young people grow and develop in so many different areas.

One of the ways we are funding this non-government program is through our first golf tournament to be held on June 17.  Mountain Creek Golf Course in Arnprior will host the tournament with a shotgun start at 12 noon.  Eighteen holes with four ‘hole-in-one’ prizes, closest to the pin, longest drive, putting contest and a few other surprises will certainly engage and excite novice and pro golfers alike.  It’s a best ball tournament, so there is a chance that someone on your foursome will make a good shot.

A barbeque medley will follow, along with a silent auction, and each golfer will take home a special prize – some pretty nice prizes too, if I don’t say so myself.

It is promising to be a great day, and one that you will not want to miss.  We have between 25 and 30 teams currently registered (a few await confirmation – and payment) with room for 36 teams in total. 

The few spaces remaining will go quickly and we will probably sell out – so call us today and register your team.

Remember – it’s not only a fun daygolfing, but a great cause.  All the monies raised will go directly towards our Passion for Youth Art Program.  Call us at 613-237-6031!