Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Still my hope will cling to Your promise.

The first week of January marked the first Urban Intensive held in Philly.  Our theme was Urban Education: Hope Without Help.

Our housing site filled with 8 passionate college students, committed to praying for and learning more about education in Philadelphia, engaging in thoughtful dialogues with one another and new friends from around the city and to consider ways of being agents of transformation in their own contexts.

The days followed the basic pattern of beginning the day in Scriptures, reminding ourselves of the hope found in Christ, followed up by a time of conversation over specific issues in the education system (literacy, poverty, race...).  The afternoons were varied with times of meeting with educators, after-school programs directors and students as well as volunteering at several after-school programs.  Our evenings were speckled with events, including a Q & A with educators from around the city, dinner conversations with our friends from City Year and time to process the day as a group.

In a final debrief before returning home, we created a list of our revelations from the week/what we would do now that we had spent this intentional time together. Some of the commitments included:
  • Seeking hope in all situations
  • Prioritizing relationships - not forgetting that people are first and foremost an image-bearer of Christ.   We don't need an agenda to serve them.
  • Intentionally praying, remembering God's bigness and goodness and allowing that to free us from fear. 
  • Praying for a heart of love and peace and for a sound mind
  • Being a student first, learning from those we teach/serve

- Brittany Nyce, CSM Philadelphia City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM through the Urban Intensive!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Can you eat on $2.40/day?

How much did you spend on lunch yesterday - did it cost lest than $2.40?  Probably not, even if you didn't eat out.  Now imagine that you were given $2.40 not just for lunch but for the whole day's worth of food.  What would it feel like to go to the grocery store?  What would it feel like to have to find enough food for your family?  

When you're on foodstamps, you get about $2.40 per person, per day.  Foodstamp recipients in Denver were given cameras and asked to document what their lives are like. These powerful images tell stories of scarcity, unequal access, and even hope and love. Check this article out to hear their voices speak powerfully through their cameras.

- Nicole Engelhardt, CSM Philadelphia Associate City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Philadelphia!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Video: 100,000 Homes: Housing the homeless can save money?

Recently, on 60 Minutes Anderson Cooper shared a great piece on how housing the homeless can save money. It features one of our ministry partners, Open Table. It is clear and insightful and a recommend watch!

Check it out...

Want to take it a step further?  Check out Anderson Cooper's Overtime piece on "How I see Homeless People Now"...

- Jes Williams, CSM Nashville City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Nashville!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love Overpours!

Why we love our ministry partners....

CSM BostonIt's an amazing blessing to walk alongside people and organizations who are working so hard to rebuild God's shalom here! The work they do is so difficult and such a blessing. It is super exciting to be able to be even a small part in their story.

CSM DenverWe love our ministry sites for their dedication and willingness to go the extra mile for those often overlooked. They teach us how to love our neighbor well, even when it's not reciprocated. They show us how to give up expectations and love without strings attached.

CSM NashvilleThey invite us to be a part of their vision and work. They inspire and teach me. I am humbled by their perseverance in fighting for justice for others and our city.

CSM PhillyOur Ministry partners work day in and day out to help those who need it most. They show God's grace daily.

CSM Washington DCWe form a strong relationship with them over the years; becoming "family" with them. Their feedback about our ministry and how we can serve most effectively. Their commitment to long-term life change and systems change in our cities. They welcome us to come alongside them serve with them. We share victories of good things God is doing in the city.

Why we love our groups...

CSM BostonI really love sharing my home with people from across the country and engaging them in the work God is doing here! It means a lot to me that people care enough about Boston to come and serve for a week! 

CSM DenverWe love our groups for their willingness to jump into any situation where they are needed. Their energy and joy is contagious and we are grateful for how they engage others and are eager to learn more about God' heart for the city. 

CSM NashvilleI appreciate their desire to be available to God and impact the city. I LOVE the energy they bring. My relationship with each of the groups helps shape how I engage the world.

CSM PhillyOur groups are energetic. They are hard-working. They are willing to try anything and see God even outside of their comfort zones.

CSM Washington DCAll the hard work that goes into planning a trip. They go to a city away from their own and serve those in need. They bring donations for CSM and our ministry partners. All the inside jokes and fun times we have when they're in town. Keeping in touch after their trip and hearing how they were impacted. Breathing fresh life into our CSM staff and our cities. Being inspired by their team unity. They are willing to serve in any way we ask them, even the mundane tasks. Hearing them pray for our city on the prayer tour

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

20 Ways Not Be a Gentrifier in Oakland

Oakland is experiencing revitalization, and it’s exciting to see! However, this revitalization is creating a lot of conversation and concern about gentrification. Often, we see an “us vs. them” mentality between natives and newcomers; but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all came together to make the city we love an even better place to live? Here at CSM, we work with a variety of community organizations working to make Oakland a better place. One of the most important things we see our groups (and hosts!) learning is that people really aren’t so different from one another. Whether we’re serving at a free dining room, talking to someone on the street, or visiting one of our local, family-owned restaurants for dinner, we strive to treat each person like a neighbor - a person with something beautiful to offer this great city.

Take a moment to read this great piece: 20 Ways Not Be a Gentrifier in Oakland

- Jessie Palmatier, CSM San Francisco Bay Area Apprentice

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in the Bay Area!