For many decades, our church has lived in the north Austin area serving Austin neighborhoods north, east and west. It is well known as a welcoming church where diversity is appreciated and generosity towards our neighbors is our call. We want to build community by opening up our front yard to neighborhood people, children, and homeless and show how we all can facilitate community in the image of Jesus.
Leave the rest to God
What you can do now!
Support Community First! Village with welcome boxes for new residents:
a. Twice a year – Spring and Fall along with the Mission Sunday activities.
b. We provide Entertainment, Non-perishable food or Outdoor Home Boxes. Materials and supplies for these boxes are $30 per box.
Foundation for the Homeless - Feed My People Program:
a. A partnership of 15 religious congregations in the Austin Community provided at First United Methodist Church Family Life Center, 1300 Lavaca Street on Tuesday and Thursday (except Thanksgiving Day) from 5:30-8:00 am.
b. Volunteer to provide, cook, and serve breakfast for people experiencing homelessness and poverty in Austin.
Befriend a Homeless Neighbor:
a. Following the process used in our Refugee Ministry – befriend a local homeless person, get to know them, provide friendship, and find out what they need.
b. This will take time. The homeless are often skeptical of random acts of kindness. They come and go, never to return again.
c. This will take commitment. Regardless if the person you befriend stays on the streets or can find a safe place, this is not a pass or fail process for St John’s, this is a long term relationship building process.
d. Collaborate with partners like ECHO, Integral Care, and Community First! Village to help our new friends find a way off the street and provide continued emotional support as they adjust to a new life.
We are not alone. Resources and support are available to us in this new ministry.
Mobile Loaves & Fishes Community First!
Austin has many resources and organizations that are helping those experiencing homelessness find a safe place. At St. John’s we are not trying to be another organization to solve the homeless population problem. We are trying instead to support organizations that we feel exemplify our mission to be a community of God’s people who heal brokenness, build bridges, and exemplify borderless kindness.
Community First! Village is a 27-acre community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled and chronically homeless in Central Texas. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. The Village is a place that enables our homeless brothers and sisters to heal, rediscover hope, renew their purpose and restore their dignity. Most importantly, it’s a place they can call home permanently.
Integral Care improves the lives of adults and children living with mental illness, substance use disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities in Travis County. They provide crisis services, adult services, child & family services, and intellectual & developmental disability services. Services include a 24-hour helpline for anyone who needs immediate support, ongoing counseling to improve mental health, drug and alcohol treatment to help with recovery, and housing to regain health and independence. Integral Care helps provide a strong foundation for well-being. As the Local Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authority, Integral Care strengthens our community by supporting our most important asset, our people, to achieve well-being. Integral Care provides individuals with high quality mental health care, collaborates with community partners to strengthen programs and systems, and works to raise awareness of mental health issues in our community.
Foundation for the Homeless
Foundation for the Homeless mobilizes faith-based and community resources in a spirit of compassion to restore hope and alleviate homelessness. They are a community leader empowering Central Texans to fight hunger, homelessness and poverty. They have 4 main programs: Feed my people which is the founding program for FFH, open to anyone experiencing homelessness and poverty. A long-standing program in a partnership of 15 religious congregations in the Austin Community providing a hot breakfast along with other limited services which can include, basic medical screening, eyeglasses, and assistance with obtaining identification documentation for individuals and families.
Family rehousing initiative: a static shelter and rapid rehousing program for families with children experiencing homelessness. The primary purpose of FRI is to ensure that families who are experiencing or at risk for homelessness have access to shelter, case management, direct financial and rapid rehousing assistance. Best Single Source +: provides rapid re-housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This multi-agency collaborative focuses on case management for obtaining and maintaining safe and stable housing.
Plus One: Helps alleviate utility debt for clients who have fallen behind on payments.
A community fiercely focused on ending homelessness, The Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO) is a non-profit that plans, develops, prioritizes, and implements systemic, community-wide strategies to end homelessness in Austin and Travis County, Texas. Together with its community partners, ECHO uses strategic, data-driven decision making and innovative, bold thinking to transform the system to end homelessness. They have these current initiatives:
Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program: HUD funded program committed to ending youth homelessness. Beginning in 2018, ECHO will begin implementation, including a process for selecting partners to operate the new projects, submitting project applications to HUD, getting contracts in place, and programs running.
Pay for Success: ECHO, Social Finance and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CHS) are in the process of negotiating a Pay for Success (PFS) contract with the City of Austin, Travis County and the Community Care Collaborative (CCC). The initiative plans to house 250 persons experiencing homelessness for whom the solution of housing costs significant less than the repetitive use of crisis emergency health and criminal justice services. By connecting persons with a history of costly utilization of public services to affordable housing and support services, we seek to improve the health and well-being of households, while decreasing inappropriate health care usage and criminal justice interactions. Pay for Success builds on an innovative financing model, where private funds from social investors are used to implement the program upfront and to bear the financial risks of the initiative. In turn, public entities only pay for the achievement of agreed-upon measurable outcomes verified by third-party evaluation.
Doing good to others is not a duty, it is a joy, for it increases our own health and happiness.