“I just wanted to do something normal.”

Lindsay walked through the doors of the art room and I immediately felt relieved. We hadn’t seen her in months. I had been asking around about her and checking out her normal hang out spots but no one had seen her. I’d even called the hospitals and checked obituaries, fearing the worst.

We were so relieved she was back, but we were also worried. She looked thin and pale, and exhausted.

As she settled in, I started chatting with her about how she was doing. She said things were really bad but she didn’t want to get into it. When I asked her why she chose to come to art group that night she said, “I just wanted to do something normal.”

So much of her life is not ‘normal’. It’s not normal for a teenager to be on the streets, to be addicted to drugs, to be doing dangerous things to make money. What is normal for a teenager is to be hanging out with friends, eating yummy food and doing something fun together. If all we do at Innercity Arts is provide a little normalcy for her, then we are doing something significant.

-Moira, Staff

 

This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds – for our ministry’s needs including a permanent location for our OIM Office as of Aug 1 .

Thanks and God Bless.

Week 3 – 30 Days of Prayer

Listen this morning as Executive Director, Ken MacLaren, shares the latest news about the Ministry’s most pressing need:  Office Space. 

Click on the image below and hear Ken speak:

Join us TODAY as staff and volunteers pray for office space for this ministry! 

 

30 Days of Prayer, 30 Seconds Each Day, In Honour of Our 30th Anniversary

This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds – for our ministry’s needs.

Thanks and God Bless You.

Watercolour Journals

A few weeks ago at art group we decorated blank journal covers using watercolour paints/pencils. But there was a catch – we paired each young person with someone they did not know well. They had to answer some questions and get to know one another for about 10 minutes. Then, based on their conversation, they had to choose a few strengths that they saw in their partner. Finally, they had to use those strengths to create a cover of the watercolour journal for their partner.

While some of the youth were a little nervous about making something for someone else, once they started painting they all started to relax. At the end of the night, the journals were revealed to each person. It was such a gift to watch the youth showing each other the journals and explaining what they created for their partner. It was amazing to see the looks on their faces when they saw what strengths had been chosen.

-Moira, Staff

 

30 Days of Prayer, 30 Seconds Each Day, In Honour of Our 30th Anniversary

This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds – for our ministry’s needs.

Thanks and God Bless You.

 

 

A Stranger In Her Midst

I was new to Canada, I had arrived from El Salvador and it was my first winter here. I had only been in Ottawa a couple of months.

One day, while walking downtown on a snowy day without any gloves (something a new Canadian wouldn’t think of!), I saw a woman panhandling on Elgin Street. She saw that I was cold and offered me a pair of gloves. I noticed that she had been sitting on a milk crate in the cold. She, who was herself cold and alone, recognized someone else in need. Her act of kindness has stuck with me. It serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, many are able to extend kindness towards the stranger in their midst.

 

-Gaby, Staff

 

30 Days of Prayer, 30 Seconds Each Day, In Honour of Our 30th Anniversary

This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds – for our ministry’s needs.

Thanks and God Bless You.

 

A Meager Offering

God loves a cheerful giver, regardless of the size of the gift.She has little to live on and visits our drop-in each week to get by. She is careful not to share her life story with too many, so when she speaks, you feel part of the privileged few.

Today, she tells me she is waiting for a call from her Band to book a flight home. Two of her sisters are in the hospital. One is recovering. The other is dying. Her brother also has serious health issues. She herself is battling cancer. She cries when I ask “how are you holding up?”

After we pray, I give her a devotional book to read. She leaves smiling, wiping her tears. A few minutes later, she returns with a small donation for the ministry. I protest, but she insists. ‘You all do so much for me. And, now, I want to help you.’

Left alone in my cubicle, I am brought to tears.

I am reminded of Jesus’ story of the poor widow’s meager offering in Mark 12:41-44. Objectively, the offering is little. Two small copper coins. But it is more than she can afford and means far more because of the spirit of goodwill behind her deed.

I may think I am here to help others, but Jesus often shows me otherwise.

-Jelica, Staff

 

30 Days of Prayer, 30 Seconds Each Day, In Honour of Our 30th Anniversary

This story is part of A Special Series this month in honour of OIM’s 30th Anniversary. We hope to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions, and honestly reflect the lives of those who call the streets their home. As you reflect on these stories, please take a moment to PRAY EACH DAY – just 30 seconds – for our ministry’s needs.

Thanks and God Bless You.

 

Conversation at the Drop-In

 

“I’ve been on my own a long time. I left home when I was 10. Been on my own ever since.”

Edward told me this as we sat together in the drop-in.  He is about 65, with tired but kind eyes. He is a quiet, gentle man who can be easily missed in the large drop-in crowd.But he always nods his head hello with a smile.  

I can only imagine the kind of childhood home that would make a 10 year old run away. He said recently he tried to reach out to his remaining family members, but they wanted nothing to do with him. He had tears in his eyes as he told me is all alone in this world.

I couldn’t help but think of the youth I work with, and how many of them have recently left home and are just starting out on their own. I told Edward that it was amazing that, despite what he’s been through, and despite not having a family, he has maintained a gentle and loving spirit. There doesn’t seem to be an ounce of bitterness in him.  I told him that he gives me hope for the young people I know who have just left their families.  

“It’s God. God gives me hope.” 

He said, “I know that God loves me and wants me here. I can’t read the Bible, but I know God loves me.”

“Why can’t you read the Bible?” I asked – foolishly thinking maybe he didn’t have a Bible.  

“I can’t read. But I can feel God around me. I know He’s here.”

It was a beautiful moment, listening to Edward talk about his faith.

A faith that trusts in the presence of God,

even in times of loneliness.

A faith that believes in a loving Father,

even in times of abandonment.

Searching for Affordable Housing

You would think that in a city like Ottawa, when a vulnerable citizen faces a crisis and loses their housing, there would be a system in place to support him in finding affordable housing.

And there is. But the truth is – the system is flawed.  

Take Jack: a young man in his twenties with a history of trauma, family conflict, homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. He has worked hard over the past five years I’ve known him to make positive choices like getting sober and finding legitimate employment.

This summer, he lost his housing. He was devastated by the prospect of starting over again. With no family support, and not wanting to enter the shelter system, he opted for staying outside.  

I worked hard with him to find housing. We applied for the Social Housing Registry, YMCA monthly housing, the Salvation Army Housing Response Team and any other housing wait lists we could find. Each time, Jack was put on a list and told to wait.

Every day, he spent hours searching for housing online or went to agencies that specialize is helping with housing – but there was very little he could afford. Even the bug infested rooming houses were often out of his price range. 

As the months went on, and it began to get colder, Jack grew more desperate. He even questioned if he should go back to selling drugs so he could at least afford a place to live. My heart broke when he said “No matter what I do, I’m never going to get ahead.”

Jack is by no means an outlier. Over 10 000 households are on the Social Housing wait list this year, waiting an average of 3 years, with many waiting much longer.

Jack never heard back from any housing wait list.

But there is hope in this story – Jack did find housing. He found it on his own. It’s expensive for what it is – a small room in rooming house, but at least it is safe and warm. But the hope is not in our housing system, but rather the resilience of young men like Jack, who persevere despite a painful past and a flawed system.