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Faith in Action With Our Homeless event, Sept. 22, 2016

At least one hundred twenty-five members of 53 local faith communities joined us for this event. Twenty-six resource people from the community spoke, a literal powerhouse of information and wisdom. All who attended are urged to report back to their community following the event, and to convey strategies for continued engagement. 

Plans for the next several years are being made to also convene the business community, the volunteer community, government and non-profit service agencies.

Tax-deductible donations may be submitted to ECAN via our fiscal sponsor, CALC (Community Alliance of Lane County), at this link: Please enter "ECAN" in the Designation box.

"Why Networks?" - David Hazen 

David Hazen, Imagineer for Eugene City of Peace and President of Emerald Compassionate Action Network, provides a visual tour of global and local networks that are important for empowering relationships of belonging and compassionate action. 

Desired Outcomes


1. Answer the question of why unhoused people should be valued, respected and treated with dignity.

Reflect throughout the day on your own experiences with people who are marginalized.

2. Organize and empower people who are unhoused.

Establish a two-way communication network between faith communities and homeless people for the purpose of sharing knowledge, experience, and resources.

(added Sept. 28, 2016)

3. Establish a network of individuals who will labor together and exchange resources. 

For example, the unhoused community provides landscaping and maintenance skills for a church or business.

The faith community forms a transport service to doctor’s appointments for the unhoused, or does their laundry, or hosts a dinner and conversation for them once each month.

4. Stimulate a greater interest within whole faith communities to engage in projects involving the unhoused and marginalized.

Go back to your faith community and tell them about our conversations today. Form a social justice or housing committee if your church doesn’t have one already.

5. Widen the circle of support systems on behalf of not-for-profit organizations that work with homelessness and poverty issues.

For example, the faith community collaborates with St. Vincent de Paul or Catholic Community Services, to meet a particular need, such as providing public lockers for the unhoused.

6. Provide a broader understanding of efforts already occurring to help the unhoused and marginalized. 

Share what services and shelter Rev. June Fothergill, Father Brent Was, Tom Mulhern, Dale Seese, and Tod Schneider are offering to the unhoused and marginalized.

7. Build relationships among faith communities to expand our collective impact on public issues related to homelessness and poverty. 

For example, faith communities help locate private property (versus City- or County-owned) for additional sanctioned rest stops. They network with others to find provide temporary space for car camping during the winter months. Faith communities are vocal about stating to their neighbors: YIMBY! 

8. Arrange conversations between faith communities and the community at large.

Talk to the business community about St. Vincent de Paul Overnight Interfaith Shelters that faith communities offer for two weeks during the year: Would businesses share their resources—whether employee volunteers, food contributions, or physical space—to ensure that these shelters can operate year round?

9. Foster team-building among faith communities to deepen our collective sense of purpose and meaning.

Let’s take advantage of the power of collective numbers to embark on projects that improve the lives of the unhoused and the marginalized, such as a centrally located day use center.

10. Formalize interactions between the unhoused and local faith communities through advocacy (being publicly supportive) and mentoring (being an advisor and a guide). 

We can’t solve every problem that comes to our attention, but we each can choose to have an impact on the life of one person.

11. Launch an ad hoc committee that promotes special initiatives for the unhoused and marginalized.

Can we find a way to fund roving medical services for people who live in rest stops or at the Eugene Mission? Or create a hotel voucher fund for the unhoused who suffer from a lack of aftercare following hospitalization?

12. Request that media representatives provide ongoing coverage about the unhoused population, addiction and mental illness, to build awareness and to bust myths. 

Designate someone in this interfaith group to routinely contact the media with success stories, or a specific issue, such as homeless children in local school districts.

13. Support the non-profit Emerald Compassionate Action Network (ECAN), which will serve as an umbrella for the aforementioned actions. 

We know there is a lot of information about programs and services for the unhoused, but ECAN aims to disperse timely and relevant information online and to organize periodic events focusing on interfaith partnerships.

14. Bolster ECAN’s efforts to incorporate other sectors of the community into its structure—businesses, and traditional non-profit agencies and non-traditional services (Cahoots, Burrito Brigade, Opportunity Village, Occupy Medical)—to address issues related to homelessness and poverty. Begin today: Check the ECAN website for reports and resources; subscribe to the Emerald Compassionate Action Network newsletter; like ECAN’s Facebook page; and send ECAN periodic reports of your projects.

Revised Sept. 28, 2016

"It's a We Thing" - Sam Skillern