12.05.2016

Resilience

In the months leading up to this election, I found myself asking more fervently than at any other time in my life:

Am I willing to die for what I believe in?

Betraying my own privilege, I’ve rarely wondered what choosing between integrity and life would look like. Now, I imagine – will I say good-bye to my husband, my comfort, my freedom, in order to faithfully follow Christ?

This line of thinking has alternatively culminated in tears, intercessory prayer, or tight-lipped stoicism depending on the day. Mostly, I worry that no matter how much I bully myself into pre-committing to death (assuming that I’ll even have a choice when it comes), my resolve could fall flat.
In Deuteronomy, God lays a similar choice at the feet of Israel. Just before they enter this land flowing with milk and honey, God says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live!”

I know in my brain that the timeless God of Hosts lays the same choice before me, my family, my InnerCHANGE team, my people, daily. But rarely, in any day, do I think of myself choosing life or death. At first, I’m tempted to think the whole dichotomy feels too melodramatic, too black-and-white. Certainly, picking up a couple of dropped crops from my own field isn’t death, right? Surely, holding onto a debt until it’s entirely paid, rather than seven years and kaput, is reasonable?

Rarely does choosing “death” as it’s laid out in Torah really look or feel like choosing death at first glance. And let me just say up-front, I’m not advocating for a black-and-white, wholesale, literalist reading of the scriptures. I’m all for harm reduction, for small steps towards life. Rather, I’m struck by how rarely I think of choices as moving me towards life or death, no matter how small the increment.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to the attentiveness of our friends who have struggled with substances here in San Francisco. We spent our Monday evening bowling with a friend who was celebrating many years of sobriety. Between shots at the pins, I asked about the process of getting sober, what year was hardest, etc.  He told me that the first year was hard, especially leaving his old circle of friends, hang-out spot, and so forth. The fourth year, he said, was hard because it was tempting to think that he was better. He said has not returned to Golden Gate Park since his first day of sobriety.

Another friend this week echoed the sentiments when he talked about going into detox. “After a few days, you start wondering ‘why did I do this’?” He talked about well-meaning family members giving people in rehab money “since they’re doing so well” and tripping them up. As he prepares to move into our house for a time, he’s intentionally communicated triggers and behaviors that might indicate he’s looking for some of the rush that other substances give.

These friends’ words exude an awareness I lack; each choice has potential to move towards life or death. I often permit myself little indulgences without scrutinizing if one has the potential to entrap me longer-term. I wonder what it would look like to move through the world with the intentionality of someone journeying away from substance abuse?

Even more perplexing: what if I knew that choosing life could look like death? It’s hard to imagine that choosing life can look like saying good-bye to all your friends, puking for days, and creating an entirely new life. It sounds terrible.

This week, I wrote a card for a different friend in rehab. When I asked what to write, having never written to someone in detox, our team leader chirped “hope you’re not puking too much today.”

I dutifully wrote it down and signed all of our names, keenly aware that I have a thing or two to learn out here.

9.07.2016

Thoughts on showing up


"Hey, you been comin' around for a while now, yeah?" and "Oh hey, I remember you guys! What's up?" and "You're in the park every Monday and Friday, right? Every week..." and "You guys are the cool pancake people!" 

Lately, I've been noticing that the consistency of being present is an incredible gift. 
In a city whose culture is permeated with transience, and in a park full of travelers and train-hoppers, consistently showing up is a refreshing change of rhythm. 
I love that we're able to have deeper relationships with our Amigos bible study friends, but sometimes I struggle with not feeling as though I'm connecting in a meaningful way with people in the park. 
Is it really worth it, to have conversations that feel like small talk? But, God has been showing me that being persistently present speaks a powerful word of love to friends in this transient place. 

It says, 
"I am not here to get something from you or to try to fix you. 
I am not just passing through. 
I am just here with you, just sitting and listening and loving and learning alongside you. 
I am not concerned with achieving a result or an efficient outcome. 
I just care about you deeply and love you for you. 
You are worth spending time with and you are valuable in God's sight." 

I pray that God can use my small act of coming to sit with our friends to powerfully communicate His relentless and gently-pursuing love for them!

- Georgia Lee

2.04.2016

"For the past 10 years, the San Francisco Outer Circle team has been enjoying a weekly pancake picnic with friends experiencing homelessness in Golden Gate Park. Here is some footage from our 10th Anniversary Celebration. Many thanks to Meredith Stutz for her editing expertise!"

Here is our Video!


SFOC Celebrates 10 Years of Pancakes from Georgia on Vimeo.

5.24.2015

So you Wanna Know What You Can Give That Really Helps?


 If you have ever worked at a non profit you have received some terrible well meaning donations.
So a friend asked us what we can REALLY use... So we decided to give you a big list!

Street needs:

·       First and foremost as always, socks and underwear (any traveling kid will be your best friend with a pair of clean socks :)
·       Feminine products
·       Tents
·       Sleeping bags (army bags preferably)
·       Small Tarps (preferably brown or green)
·       Backpacks
·       Goodwill gift card
·       Id voucher
·       Quality counseling sponsor
·       Flywheel coffee gift card
·       Whole Foods gift card
·       Another way for homeless friends to eat on a daily basis in Haight
·       A safe dry place to sleep that allows dogs and significant others and discipleship- a transitional but loving home.
·       Lockers so you can go to appointments or even church easily- without what you own being stolen
·       Friends who are sober to hang out with our friends on the street and do normal life things together!
·       New full time staff!
·       Jobs short and long term- so they can get experience and a more current resume as well as legally earned cash!
·       Vehicles for specific sober friends
·       Travel help- flights or greyhound tickets to go home!

Housewarming gifts for newly housed friends:
·       Laptops
·       George forman
·       Crock pot
·       Electric tea pot
·       Coffee set up
·       Microwave
·       Warm blankets

Stuff our house can use:
·       Financial support to get each staff fully funded- http://www.crmleaders.org/give
·       Airline miles, or sponsor one of our trips!
·       Grocery cards (safeway, whole foods, trader joes, rainbow, foodsco)
·       Gas cards
·       Blankets
·       Small heaters
·       4 Fans   
·       Shelving for storage
·       Back up pancake power box or someone to invent a new awesomer longer lasting system!
·       A 2000+ watt power inverter

We could use your Talents and Connections!
·       Legal council for friends as well as for pancakes as issues arise
·       Personal assistant
·       Wifi consultant to make it reach our whole house!
·       Volunteer counselor for homeless friends who are scared to go to a center or don’t qualify for free counseling.
·       Babysitters (esp during bible study)
·       Handyman
·       Plumber
·       Bible lovers- to guest facilitate bible study on specific topics as they come up! Perhaps a theology nerd?
·       A person older then us who wants to have kids over for tea and cookies and love on them! Be grandma/grandpa for many who don’t have elders.
·       A house sitter who is willing to host kids while we are gone.- Just sleep at our house and make sure people are alive J
·       A musician who can jam with kids
·       Someone who can introduce good Christian hardcore/punk/folk music to our kids!
·       A Job connector please! To connect us or our kids to possible jobs or to hire them! Please!
·       A passionate person to manage our Odd Jobs website- connecting youth to short term odd jobs for individuals and individuals to a person who needs a short job!
·       A job coach- helping kids get to where they want to be!
·       Rainy day or emergency housing- a person we could call when we have someone who really needs housing but we can’t provide it.
·       A writer to collect our stories and write them well
·       A once a year house deep cleaner volunteer group
·       Moms to visit moms for play dates who are holed up in hotels and learning how to parent.
·       We go on retreats a few times a year to pray or to plan for the year, or sometimes when tough stuff happen to get away and pray and process, so houses with 1+ empty bedrooms that are within 2 hours of SF that you would be willing to let SFOC staff stay in for 2 or 3 nights would be lovely.
·       Other random skills we don’t even know you have! – Tell us what you could do for us and we can tell you if a situation comes up where we could need you!

Pancake supplies-
for 1 year we buy in bulk and spend on average: 926.42$ for Syrup, Sugar, Creamer, Coffee, Pancake batter, Forks, Plates, Cups, etc…

Rainbow Gathering Kitchen supplies:
Around 300$ plus gas.

Thanks for caring!
SFOC

2960 21st Street
SF CA 94110SF CA 94110

5.09.2015

Joe's Video!

Here is a link to our 4 min video Paul and Peter made with Joe telling part of his story!

 Joe's Story: Turned around for good

Enjoy!

12.01.2014

SFOC STATISTICS 2014!

Happy Advent to you all!


In celebration of the end of the year coming up I (Claire) decided to try
and count up all the fun SFOC statistics for this year that I could and share them with you! I used my calendar and our guest book and was amazed and what we came up 
with! Especially considering we were a team of three and then two full time staff this year! The Lord has truly blessed our work. 

 I stuck to the numbers I could prove, 
so some say "over" or "more then" cuz the number is actually way higher but I couldn't prove it on paper. I hope you enjoy this list and we are so grateful for your partnership and friendships this year! 
San Francisco Outer Circle 2014 Statistics:
This year we have:
  • Served over 1680 people pancakes in golden gate park
  • Trained 3 new Bible study facilitators
  • Served thousands of pancakes at the Rainbow Gathering and created a partnership with 3 other Christian kitchens
  • Helped 4 friends into rehab
  • Hosted and trained 9 short term interns
  • Assisted 9 friends in transitioning into housing
  • 15 friends began to get to know Jesus, started attending church and coming to bible studies and small groups.
  • 1 local leader came on staff
  • 5 local pastors began to partner with us in serving our homeless friends
  • 3 friends radically committed their lives to Jesus                      
  • Celebrated birthdays, sobriety anniversaries, memorials and holidays together with homeless friends
  • Housed over 75 guests at our house for short term and emergency stays
  • 1 hair stylist came to the park and cut hair
  • 3+ friends chose not to commit suicide
  • We baptized 1 friend
  • Helped 5 homeless friends reconnect with their family and move back home
  • Let at least 98 people borrow a cell phone to call home for the first time in a very long time. 
  • Mediated complicated dynamics between 3 homeless friends and their family members.
  • Visited 3 friends in the Hospital
  • Shared way over 100 home cooked meals in our living room with homeless friends
  • Visited 1 friend in jail
  • Helped create 2 new videos- http://www.innerchange.org/category/tags/photo-video
  • Hosted InnerChange’s Apprenticeship and SummerXChange Orientations
  • Collected 98 surveys on homeless issues 
  • Began a new prayer and worship time in the park and a new Bible study at a Christ Church which is hospitable to and led by both housed and our un housed friends.
  • Took lots of fun new pictures- https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Francisco-Outer-Circle-InnerChange/63915111179
  • Connected with three families who were willing to host homeless friends in transition and disciple them!
  • And had thousands of conversations with homeless friends old and new!

We are so grateful to the Lord for such an incredible year and excited for the one to come!!!


10.08.2014

Our friend Lee helped make a great 3 min film of our teammate Danny telling his story!
Check it out! http://vimeo.com/100744207

Photo: Help us support this guy! We are so excited for him making a 1 YEAR commitment to the sfoc and psyched to have him around!
Danny is working on fundraising and is at 365$/1500$ and is headed into all staff orientation next week and we would love to see him hit a grand, or be fully funded by next monday!
sooooo if you were thinking about donating twards him, here is your reminder!
Contact him at lowcarddan@gmail.com
His fund will be up in the next week or so soon you will be able to support him online at- http://innerchange.org/support -Ill let you know when- 
but he would be encouraged if you let him know if you are thinking of supporting him!