Published: 12:01 am, Sun. May. 29th, 2016Updated: 12:43 am
There are no disposable people. No one in this rich country should be homeless or hungry. People seem to be afraid of the homeless, so instead of showing compassion, they are often arrested or sent away. Why would we shame and arrest them rather than give them a home? Instead of giving them a blanket, we tell them “you don’t belong here.”
By taking the homeless off the streets, we not only relieve the fear that many have of them, but we give them a safe environment where they can receive food, clothing, shelter… and maybe even a sense of community and self worth!
Mark Silla, a counselor at Presbyterian Medical Services, moved here a few years ago from Tucumcari. He brought with him a dream of helping the homeless and formed a 501(c)(3) under the name of San Juan Macias for his ministry.
He placed an ad in the Artesia Daily Press asking anyone interested in helping the homeless to join him. Don Shell was the first to respond, followed by Lindsey Givens, Tate Branch, Grace Miller, Paula Givens and Shirley Murphy. Julia Ferguson and Gary and Rhonda Nelson have also come on board. Julia has been a great help through her work and connection with Meals on Wheels. This small group formed On the Move under the umbrella of San Juan Macias.
The name came from an email stating that things were coming together and Artesia was on the move!
On the Move is a faith-based organization; we adopted our vision from Isaiah 58:7-8 and the Lord’s admonition to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help those in need. The motto “Send me with joy” is from Isaiah 6:8. Did you know that 1.3 million students enrolled in public schools in 2012-13 were homeless? Not to mention the 3.5 million adults! We estimate 10-25 homeless in Artesia today. We must be On the Move to help!
Through a generous donation, we procured our Care-A-Van, which is loaded with donated clothing of all sizes, shoes, bedding, and nonperishable food items. By parking the van at Gregg’s Foods, we can open the back and allow people the opportunity to have what they need. It is so very gratifying to see faces as they pull from the bins in the van the clothing they need or a pair of jeans they really like!
We have also recently partnered with the Church of God on 20th Street. We can now store our clothes in their building and distribute them at the same time that they distribute food items on the last Friday of each month.
One of our projects is a sleeping mat made entirely from recycled plastic grocery bags! How often do you run errands in a week? Chances are, each time your purchases come home in plastic bags. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States consumes about 380 million plastic bags each year. Only 5 percent of these are recycled, and the majority that is disposed of can take up to a thousand years to decompose.
Some concerned citizens across the country have joined together to help the environment while also helping the homeless! Plastic bags can be reused to create waterproof, weather-resistant sleeping mats. By crocheting strips of the bags together, you can create a flexible place to sleep that absorbs warmth while it wicks away moisture. Area churches were asked to collect the bags, which came in quite easily, but then the work began.
Each mat takes between 500 to 1,000 clean plastic bags to create a comfortable bed. The bags are flattened and then cut into straight loops, which are strung together into long strings of “plarn” and rolled into balls. It can take an entire day to crochet one mat, which is a lot of work, but it is a beautiful gift of love. Other gifts of love are the blessing bags which are zip-lock bags filled with hygiene items, nonperishable snacks, and inspirational tracts, which are often given to those we pass on the street corners and medians.
As a nonprofit organization, we are always looking for donations and people to join our ministry. Our specific needs include, financial support to assist with insuring the Care-A-Van and monies to pay for hotel rooms and meals for those who are traveling and need a place to stay. Our desire is to eventually have a space allocated by the city or an individual to set up a tent city and a soup kitchen.
As long as there are people who are hungry and in need within our community, our group will be On the Move! Our most urgent need is YOU! Can we count on you to help with your donations or time?
At 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, we will be hosting an event as a fundraiser in hopes to raise awareness and funds to support our vision. The Joel Gothard Band will be playing a benefit concert at The Jahva House.
Joel Gothard is an accomplished singer, songwriter and piano player who moved from Wright, Wyo., to Artesia. He and his children, Lakota and Tayler Gothard, are currently playing as a part of the praise band at Catalyst Church. The Gothards will be accompanied in the concert by longtime friend Mark Hafliger.
Tayler, the newest band member and vocalist, is a sophomore at Artesia High School and is actively involved in the choir and show choir. Lakota is finishing his second year at ENMU-Roswell as a newlywed and has recently acquired his private pilot license. He combines his natural music abilities with multiple instruments and his new life experiences in order to bring a lively, energetic flare to the band.
Mark Hafliger has been a part of the praise team at West Main Baptist Church and plays the guitar as well as joining Joel in many of the vocals at various concerts with warmth and enthusiasm.