When listening is the first act of service: Jan 30 in Dakota County

listening-1Community forum on homelessness in Dakota County
Monday, January 30, 2016, 7-8:30pm
Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church
12650 Johnny Cake Ridge Rd, Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 432-6351

Discussion with individuals who have experienced homelessness in Dakota County

Can you pick out the homeless people in these photos? Maybe the ones with hoodies or sweatshirts or jeans with holes in them? Maybe the ones who look really tired? Hard to see who is struggling in their head? We have a large number of homeless youth so maybe its the young ones?

Though we have yet to complete our first week of a temporary shelter at Easter on the Lake Lutheran Church in Eagan, we have our largest group since moving through 4 churches in a month: 30 women, men and youth tonight (56 total individuals since we began). 26% of our guests are senior citizens. 15% work at McDonalds. Easter’s roof has sheltered one 18 month old, one honorably discharged veteran and a bevy of people providing you good service at Super America, Taco Bell, the Dollar Store and a nearby hotel. The shelter will close January 20. We will hand people a gas card or Metro Transit card as a shelter plan.

It’s people’s nature to want to act or do something concrete, whether they are homeless or not. It’s harder to be still and listen. However, more than passing dollar bills out your car window or handing plates of food over a table, the first thing we ask is that people sit across the table and listen to each other. Now, more than ever, I think we are going to need to do that in order to advance our communities. We ask that volunteers like Becky Haage, Bruce Anderson and the family of Jarrod and Lisa Beach not clean or sort but engage with those who are homeless or work with them in their community. It’s no surprise that listening to each other produces greater understanding.
On January 30, the Dakota County Adult Shelter coalition will hold a community forum. We will ask people to listen to stories about homelessness that don’t include the words Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago or Somalia but Vermillion, East View, County Road 42 and Town Centre. We will discuss how our community is wasting money allowing people to be homeless. The shelter guests have asked if people will be there to listen. Will you be?

listening-2 listening-3

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