The Village is growing and changing in 2015 to meet our audacious new goal!
In 2014, New City Initiative partnered with the Portland Mayor’s Office and City Council to launch the “Bridging the Gap” interfaith initiative on family homelessness. The initiative set an ambitious goal for 2015 of enlisting 50 congregations to provide support teams for 50 families as they transition from homelessness to housing through our Village Support Network. In order to support this goal, we are making some changes to our program. These changes are intended to simplify the process of signing up for the Village, and to secure the long-term viability and sustainability of the program.
First Change: Streamlining Orientation
Beginning in 2015, those interested in participating in the Village will have the opportunity to learn more about the program through a one-and-a-half hour orientation session on a weeknight. We listened to many of you who told us that a four-hour initial session on a weekend was simply too much to absorb. The orientation session will give a basic overview of the program and an introduction to the Six Practices of the New City that constitute the core values of our work. Following orientation, teams will attend three skills-based "Village Building" training sessions over the course of their six month commitment to learn specifics about their engagement with the family they are matched with. The first orientation session in the new format for interested volunteers will take place on Thursday, January 22, from 7:00-8:30 PM (visit our training page for details and to register for the orientation).
Second Change: Leadership Development Contribution
The Village Support Network is about more than helping homeless families: it is also about cultivating leaders within congregations. Team members gain valuable skills over their six month commitment, including meeting facilitation, goal setting, holding boundaries, clear communication, and working with diverse individuals, skills that can translate directly into increased involvement in leadership in their congregation. In past years, congregations that participated in the Village Support Network were asked to raise $500 towards a "Family Assistance Fund." Individuals were also charged registration fees for training. Beginning in 2015, we are asking congregations that participate in the Village to contribute $1,000: $500 towards a Family Assistance Fund, and $500 towards leadership development, which includes training and support of the team. We are also eliminating individual registration fees. On average, it costs about $2,000 in staff time and other expenses (training materials, background checks, family move-in fees) for each team we match with a family. We are asking congregations to share part of this cost going forward. Some denominational entities offer grants that can be used to cover the leadership development portion of the cost; contact us for more information.
Third Change: Bringing the Village Together
Over the past two years, one thing many team members have asked for is more opportunities to connect with other teams in a social context. This is serious work, but we don't want to forget to have fun together! Beginning in 2015, we plan to schedule a number of fun group events bringing together teams and their families for things like hiking, picnics, bowling, etc. We are kicking this off with our Share the Love event on February 12, which will include some fun community-building activities. We're also planning a series of workshops in 2015 focusing on "The Six Practices in Daily Life," which will help you apply our six practices to practical areas of daily living such as marriage, parenting, work, and friendships. We'll keep you informed about these new opportunities as we enter 2015.
Finally, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all our coworkers in the great work of creating a community where everyone belongs. We at New City Initiative wish you and yours all the very best in 2015!