One of our great blessings here at the village, as we have said before, is all the wonderful community partners we have.
One of our partners is CAFA (Christians as Family Advocates http://www.cafaweb.com/) who not only serve the community mental health services for anyone who needs them, but also have a service called:
The Creative Connections Program.
This is their mission:
The Creative Connections Program seeks to creatively cultivate and build communities of compassion, connection, and purpose. Our vision is accomplished by providing opportunities to practice and enrich skills in social and emotional regulation and relationship building in creative ways for people of all ages and abilities.
So how do they go about that very ambitious purpose?
Well, we can’t speak about this in general terms, but the way they have reached out to Everyone Village has been pretty special.
They are helping us with a long-term project of making mosaic patio tables.
How does that connect to the mission statement above?
This is how it has connected for us.
We have many partners, and most of them offer services that address the many problems that particularly befall the unhoused, and a lot of these problems can be pretty hard going, dealing, as they do, with some of the grim realities of life. And villagers often find that these services can help them move ahead in their lives. Many of our partners are so steadfast that they show up once or twice a week, week after week, just to lend their support to us.
It can be some tough going, and homeless folk, just like everyone else, can use some relief from the darker aspects of existence. To underline this, of all the services and events that come to the village, some of the most well attended are the artistic events, where people get a chance to exhale, forget about things, and just be, and just create.
And that is what Creative Connections Cafa has been providing for months now, faithfully showing up and, along with villagers, creating a whole bunch of these tables. This has all been in the person of Stephanie, along with her daughter Hope, who have patiently and creatively guided the tables through their production.
Stephanie and Hope have allowed us to partner with beauty, with a beauty that we help create, and with a beauty that lasts, because unlike the Tibetan sand mandalas that the monks destroy after creating, our tables we get to keep as a reminder of the beauty and possibility that is here at the village every day.
And in the end, they didn’t turn out so bad. One of them actually looked a little like a buddhist mandala itself.
This last Sunday was the great unveiling of the tables, with Stephanie and many of the villagers showing up, although we had to do without Hope, who, being a teen-aged superhero, and seeing that her work here was done anyway, had to move on.
In addition to staff, villagers who worked on the tables, and the rest of us, we were also lucky to have some of our other friends there like. like Pastor Mike with City Salt Church, Pastor DeLeesa with St. Mark’s CME.
It also didn’t hurt that CAFA provided pizza and drinks.
We also had a table that looked a lot like a lotus flower which, appropriately enough, has the spiritual meaning of rebirth and resurrection.
We also got a table that was a pie chart of creativity:
And you only have to inspect some of these pie slices more closely to see that it is true.
Our final table might be the best and most fitting table of all. It was beautiful design that, if you looked more closely, you could see many inspirational words embedded in the design. On Saturday afternoon, Stephanie asked villagers what words inspired them, and she incorporated the words into the design of the table.
We need to give a final shoutout to site lead Ricky, who came in early to do some sanding to make sure the glass edges weren’t sharp.
And there is no better ending to this post than a gallery of the words of inspiration that anyone sitting at this table will see when they do.