Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grass and trees help make a home

CHUM helps people put down roots, spring new life

CHUM works to get people back on their feet. One of the best ways to do this is to secure permanent housing for those who had been homeless or are at risk of homelessness. But a house or an apartment is more than just walls. It needs a place where children can play safely outdoors and everyone of any age can enjoy trees, grass and possibly a garden.

“CHUM is a place where we witness new shoots springing up in the most vibrant of greens. We witness RUAH, God’s breath, blowing mightily to bring forth new life. It is fitting that the CHUM Permanent Housing building is named after this life-giving force, this RUAH,” said Elizabeth Olson, Congregational Outreach Director.

Families living in RUAH have experienced homelessness, or teetered on the brink, but now, for the first time, are able to relax in their own backyard. Kids like Quincy are rolling down a grassy hill and planting trees in the safety of their fenced-in backyard. The threats once posed to these families are safely behind a six-foot high fence. Inside the fence are gardens waiting to transform. Olson said, “The breath of God has blown this spring, transforming the backyard of RUAH from a paved parking lot into a place of community and vitality.”

Together, congregation members and the families at RUAH are working to nurture vibrant shoots of green. What started as a small seedling when Trinity Lutheran asked, “what do we have to offer and what does CHUM need?” has now literally become fruit on an apple tree, peas on a vine, and flowers for what will become pumpkins.

A partnership among Trinity, Gloria Dei and CHUM has made it possible for families like Leda DeFoe’s to put down roots. DeFoe came to CHUM three years ago with her son Quincy with no place to stay and nowhere to turn. Now, she happily calls RUAH home. Instead of staying inside with Quincy, DeFoe meets outdoors with her CHUM family advocate. They pick weeds and talk about the transition from homeless to housed while Quincy runs freely in the safety of the backyard.

“At CHUM we are nurturing these stumps to shoots,” said Olson. “We are working together to harness the power of RUAH to liberate, heal, remake and transform.”
For information on how you or your faith group can be involved, please contact CHUM at 720-6521 or eolson@chumduluth.org