Here we are in the last days of summer: Autumn is quickly approaching. Last month, I referred to this as the year of the unknowns, but it could just as easily be called the year of transitions! In our community I can see examples of efforts supporting transition and it excites me.
Some transitions are exciting AND tricky.
Back to school 2020 is definitely tricky: the return to school energy fills the air despite the fact that backpacks are unnecessary and pajamas are now official school attire. College professors like my husband are strapped to their computers and students are anxiously ready to tune in for the bulk of their studies. While learning looks different, educators are working harder than ever to support and teach our students tapping into their creativity and flexibility like never before!
Project Roomkey began with the goal of providing non-congregate shelter in local
motels to the most vulnerable people in our state experiencing homelessness but
has ended up changing lives. In Butte County alone, 55 people that entered Project Roomkey are now living in transitional or permanent housing. A robust group of us are working to rehouse even more over the next 45 days! This program also gave the Jesus Center an opportunity to really demonstrate the capacity of our meal program to support outside efforts in our community. From April to August, we’ve prepared and delivered nearly 60,000 meals to Project Roomkey and maintained our daily meals at the Jesus Center. That’s a total of over 600 meals daily!
Transitions are literally the movement from one thing to another. One known thing to one unknown but usually promising thing. I used the official term, “Betwixt and Between” to describe our transition to the staff last month!
Our own organization is in transition, and we’re eager to respond to the needs around us and to build on the strengths we have to address those needs. Now that we’ve closed escrow on the 6.2 acre property that will become our new location on Fair Street (can you see the fireworks overhead??), we’re working to design a space of dignity and hope, redesign our program to better address the complexity of need, while also honoring and contributing to the community that supports us. By next Spring, we will have relocated!
The Jesus Center is in transition! And this transition is EXCITING!
After serving the Jesus Center for five years as Executive Director, I know there are always ways we can improve what we do to help the myriad humans we serve in the course of a year. Our team is never content just doing it the way we always do. With our move will come change. We are focused on sharpening our program model to be strengths based and trauma informed and building in specific skills with our staff and volunteers to live that out in every interaction with our participants. Each and every aspect of our work will be reviewed with these models informing us. Our collective goal is to help our participants live their best life: the one that God has designed for them which will be marked with abundance, joy, and wholeness.
One of my favorite biblical stories is the “The Road to Emmaus.” This story told to us in Luke chapter 24, finds the followers of Jesus in the days after Jesus’ death walking a long road to the town of Emmaus from Jerusalem. It is a story of transition! The disciples are just talking amongst themselves and a stranger appears asking them what they are talking about. They don’t recognize Jesus as the stranger so they think it odd that this person
is asking them about what everyone clearly already knows. I find it an amusing passage. Jesus begins to make sense out of their confusion. And, eventually, he reveals himself over a meal. The fact is the disciples are in transition. They had all their hopes pinned on the man Jesus and then he died. They just felt all “betwixt and between” not knowing what would come next. But Jesus knew he had a plan for them and that it would be greater than anything because Jesus would send his Holy Spirit and give them a mandate to share the good news with the world.
Sometimes we are on a similar Road....not really knowing what is coming, but waiting to find out. That is the nature of a transition!
All around us groups of hardworking professionals rally to address and usher in transitions: changes at the County, improvements to our downtown, focus on the
recovery efforts for individuals and our region in the wake of the Camp Fire, in the midst of change. Fires rage all over this state, COVID is not yet under control, and of course, we are in an election season: local and national transitions will abound.
The best part of transitions is the promise of new beginnings.
One of my younger friends loved starting school this month because it meant 5 new bright sticky pads. My own daughter will teach her first section of undergrads at CAL as a Teaching Assistant. Another friend has reached the five-year mark of cancer remission. Her next chapter is bright with that marker behind her. One of our long-term clients finally found her own housing and job away from many of her old safety crutches.
We must choose into transition and change every day. We choose it over the status quo, ways of working that don’t serve us anymore, ways of relating that aren’t life giving. My hope and prayer is that you will embrace the change and join us in this exciting season of transition for the Jesus Center and for our community.
We can’t do it alone. We cling to the idea that Jesus is with us on the road. We also rejoice that you, our community, you are right here alongside us as we seek to care for the poor in new and improved ways. Together.
Laura R. Cootsona