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April 2015 Our Common Ground Newsletter
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Stay tuned both in this newsletter, and on our Facebook page, for news about the Summer, and the upcoming workshops and other events will will have going on!

Hello Friends! I hope May has brought you some things to celebrate. I know for us up in the great NW town of Everett, it has brought some sunshine, which is always nice. Especially when you have friends that sleep outside.
 

We have had a full Spring here, and one that brought many stories, beautiful things, and challenges. We have had friends get housing. We have seen community members begin the long and hard road of recovery. We have seen jobs gained, and jobs lost. Lot’s of life has happened over the last season. And we want to see this life keep happening over the season that lies ahead.

Which leads us to some very important news regarding our summer:


As many of you know, when we started the hospitality space at Our Common Ground, our mission was community and relationship. This has not changed. But how busy we quickly became, and the amount of work now needed just to keep going, have made it much more difficult to do our mission well. We went from a dozen or so folks joining us each day to over 50, with some days seeing over 70. I went from my job being part pastor, part director, to full time director. I spend almost all of my time making sure all is well, leaving little time for relationship. Now, we do have some wonderful volunteers who have helped us carry on our mission. And we do we see community and relationship happening each day. But we also see a great deal of chaos, which is expected with the folks we welcome. But some days I am just keeping my head above water.  And, though we have many amazing volunteers, our volunteer base did not grow as fast as our numbers. So, I have found myself running low on energy and imagination, both vital to keep this work going.

 

Additionally, while we have received some generous financial partnership, it has not been enough to support Our Common Ground and, with all the work need to be done just to keep things running, we have been unable to apply for grants and focus on finding more financial partners. To keep this good work going, we will need significant financial partnership.

In light of all of that, we have decided to pause the hospitality space for the Summer. Our last day will be June 2nd (Thursday), and our tentative date of reopening will be September 12th. We did not come to this decision lightly. We spent time talking with our board, consulting trusted friends and mentors, and taking a good hard look at all we were doing in light of our mission and sustainability.

 

We will use this time to renew and re-imagine how we can better welcome and serve the community in light of our mission.
 

Our plans for the summer include, but are not limited to:

  • Volunteer Training

  • Workshops that will be open to the community

  • Fundraising and Grant Writing

  • Reflecting on the last six months with mentors, community members, and other partners in this work, learning how we can better do what we do

  • Visiting and learning from other organizations doing similar work in the Northwest

  • Meeting with community members and asking for their feedback

  • Revising our Community Guidelines, in order to keep all area of Our Common Ground safe, and contribute to the flourishing of our community

  • Continuing relationship with community members from Our Common Ground, especially those who have shown investment and leadership amongst our folks.

  • Reflecting on our daily, weekly, and monthly practices in light of our mission and all that we learn over the summer

  • From all of this: Coming up with some plans to better facilitate the hospitality space, as well as the larger work of Our Common Ground

 

So Our Common Ground is not going away! We are just taking a step back to work toward being a sustainable presence in the Everett community. Now, we may look a little different when the hospitality space opens up again. That can happen when you are willing to take a look at everything and ask how you can do it better. But our plan is to return better then ever.
 

And on that note, here are a few ways you can help us over the summer!

 
  1. Join us for one or more of the workshops we have planned. Our goal is for these to be open to the community, and geared toward learning together how to welcome our neighbors experiencing poverty, addiction, and mental (un)health. Stay tuned for the next newsletter (early June), or on our Facebook page, for more info about the workshops.

  2. Invite your family, community, church, or organization to help us raise funds and/or donations. The more we raise over the summer, the more we will be able to keep doing what we do in the Fall. Check out our partnership page to learn more.

  3. Help us find some new volunteers. Though we have some amazing one’s right now, if we are to open back up strong, we are doing to need at least a dozen more regular volunteers for the hospitality space. If you or anyone you know might be interested in that, please let us know. Contact us, and be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming workshops as well.

  4. Consider becoming a financial partner so that this work and welcome can continue.


Each of these will help us prepare for when we open back up again.

I know that pausing a large part of your organization for this long, this soon after you have begun, seems like a huge deal. And it is. But we truly want to see Our Common Ground succeed in the long run. And with careful discernment, we’ve seen that this is the right time to step back, celebrate what we’ve done, learn from our experience and from others, and come up with a plan to make this ministry even better and much more sustainable. There is a clear need for a place like this in Everett. We owe it to our community to continue offering a safe place to come and rest over the next Winter, and beyond. And to find healthy, sustainable, and mission-orientated ways to do so.

For all of you that have supported us this last year, we thank you. We could not have done any of this without you.

And if anyone wants to know more, or wants to chat about how you can help, please let us know!

Luke Sumner

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