Mardi Bras RVA 2016

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Mardi Bras RVA is Back!

How many pair of underwear do you have in your drawer right now? How many bras? When ‘that time of the month’ comes, do you wonder where you will obtain your supplies of pads or tampons? Sorry – if you are a guy and reading this, I dare you to ask your wife, daughter, sister, girlfriend, or mother these questions. I recently talked with a few women who used to be homeless and spent a lot of time on the street. They wondered about this every day… and every month. Supplies are NOT readily available for women who are homeless or on a low or restricted income. No – food stamps and other resources do NOT cover feminine protection. Then, I read this article…For Homeless Women, Getting Their Period Is One Of The Most Difficult Challenges which confirmed what I thought.

This is a problem that can be easily solved; and we decided to do something about it.  So, here’s the deal. We are going to collect pads, tampons, new bras, new underwear and incontinence pads for women who are homeless or on low/restricted income! Keep reading! MARDI GRAS, where women bare their breasts for beads in New Orleans, is right around the corner. Instead of revealing our breasts, we are going to work at covering some! Join us for MARDI BRAS RVA 2016!!!

OPEN HOUSE DATES/TIMES:

Monday evening, 2/8    6p-8p

Tuesday morning, 2/9  10a-12noon

Read more for details…

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BIG THANKS for Supporting Mardi Bras RVA!!

UPDATE – 3/9/2015

So. You WERE invited to come and share in the presentation of the award presented by 2 City Council Members – Chris Hilbert and Ellen Robertson. And I totally got the date wrong. Totally my mistake. Totally an opportunity to keep me humble. Here is a picture my friend Valena Dixon took of them presenting the award…. and none of us were there. I am sad. I’m somewhat embarrassed. I’m beyond grateful to Ellen and Chris (and Lisa!!!!!) for honoring my work in such an awesome way. I apologize to them and the rest of council …and YOU… for getting it wrong.  I really appreciate those who were planning to come. As soon as I get the certificate, I will post a picture for all to see! Because like I said below – YOU made this happen. I just connected you to the need.  

city council award

Ellen Robertson and Chris Hilbert at City Council (photo cred: Valena Dixon)


WOW!!! I am still blown away by how you all have given so abundantly and extravagantly! We received “party favors” (as Louis began to call them!) from Dinwiddie, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland, Richmond City, Petersburg, and even Norfolk!!! This was true regional cooperation! And we are grateful. Praise God for your generosity!

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 BEFORE!

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DURING!

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AFTER (plus more later!!!)


YOU ARE WERE INVITED!!!  

Last week,we received a call sharing that I (Marti) will be recognized by Richmond City Council for my work in the city; and I want YOU there, too! If you had any part in Mardi Bras RVA, please come! YOU made this happen! I just connected you to the need… and YOU made it happen!!

Here are the details:

DATE:  Monday, March 16th 9th at 6pm  Note:  Recognitions happen at the beginning of the meeting, so you won’t have to stay long! And I will have a few minutes to share! Pray for me!

LOCATION:  City Council Chambers on the 2nd floor of City Hall located at 900 E Broad St, RVA 23219


Because you gave, we have been able to assist women in transition, women who are homeless, women who have low or restricted income!  You gave to women through the following ministries, agencies, non-profits and churches.  Although we are no longer accepting donations and are working to empty the PODS, you can contribute directly to one or more of these organizations! True change and transformation happens through relationships! Please build relationships with one or more of these groups!  I encourage you to get connected and stay connected.

What I learned….

In addition to giving to many women, I am THRILLED that so many diverse people from various parts of Metro RVA were connected. God wants us to take our gifts and use them to HIS glory. For me, that’s taking my gift of hospitality and love of fellowship, my gift of connectedness and love for people, and my gifts of arranging and believing to help unleash YOU around a common cause. Thank YOU for saying YES!  My cup continues to overflow as I share your YES with the direct service providers (in between all these snowstorms!) One more week to unload the PODS! Pray it doesn’t snow…again.

Here are a few pictures of the 2 gatherings… Enjoy!


Mardi Bras RVA >> Plan B

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Hi, Friends and Neighbors!

I am overwhelmed at the generosity of each and every one of you! Seriously! This started out as a quick invitation to some friends, that has now exploded into a full movement! And… I couldn’t be more thrilled! Seriously! Even with the postponement due to the pending storm, I couldn’t be happier. WHY????? Because it gives us an extra week to tell more people and collect more bras, underwear, pads, tampons and such! WOO HOO!!!  Please help spread the word by forwarding this message to them!

So, here’s the latest…

NBC12 NEWS SEGMENT, Karla Redditte:

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If you missed her Focus on Faith Segment on Wednesday, 2/4, you can see it here – NBC12 Interview and Video.  Karla and Matt (camera guy) were amazing and fun! So appreciate them!

NEW DATES: 

Due to the pending snowstorm, we have rescheduled for next week!

Monday, February 23rd        5p – 8pm

Tuesday, February 24th        10a – 12noon

LOCATION:

Miss Marti’s House, an urban ministry of Into The Neighborhood, Inc.                                        2101 Barton Avenue; Richmond, VA 23222

NEEDS:

  • Underwear – all shapes, all sizes. Don’t forget larger sizes! Need solid white for Richmond City Justice Center. Other colors are good for other ministries.
  • Bras – all shapes, all sizes. Don’t forget larger sizes! Need solid white and NO WIRES!!! for Richmond City Justice Center. Other colors are good for other ministries.
  • Pads and Tampons

CONTRIBUTIONS:

If you want to make a contribution, make your check to Into The Neighborhood and include a note that says Mardi Bras RVA, and we will use the funds to provide the necessary products. Mail it to:

Into The Neighborhood  2101 Barton Ave Richmond, VA 23222


We are thankful for these gifts and contributions:  A real answer to prayer!!!

GFC Catering for catering both gatherings.

The Cake Lady – for supplying beautiful cakes for both gatherings!


ORGANIZATIONS WE ARE SUPPORTING:

Check back often because we will update the list!

NEW ADDITION:

Because of deliveries like THIS…

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And THIS…

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and THIS!!!

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we have gotten this….

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And need your help filling it up!  We are so grateful to PODS for the generous gift to us! We have it temporarily to collect, sort and store all of your donations! WHAT A BLESSING!

Hope to see you in a week!

May God bless you for being a blessing to others,

for it is more blessed to give than receive. 

Peace.


Mardi Bras RVA (and surrounding areas, too!)

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REVISED FEBRUARY 15 at 11pm

Due to the pending snowstorm, we are postponing Mardi Bras RVA for one week! We are doing our best to contact everyone and make new arrangements with our partners and volunteers. Please take advantage of this extra week to tell more friends and collect more products! Thanks a million! Also – help us by spreading the news and sharing this post >>  MARDI BRAS RVA >> PLAN B

For updates, you can…

  • subscribe to this site by providing your email on the right column, 
  • “like” our Facebook page at >> INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD FB PAGE, and/or
  • check back often.

NEW DATES:

Monday, February 23rd from 5-8p

Tuesday, February 24th from 10a-12n

Stay safe and warm!  Remember our friends who are homeless during this frigid, snowy weather.

I want to send a huge THANK YOU!!! for all of you! The phone calls, texts, emails, etc. Your support is overwhelming and humbling. Your kind words have been so encouraging and life-giving. But, I can’t stress enough – this isn’t about me! This is about the call follow Jesus’s top greatest commandments – Love God. Love Neighbor.  And I am grateful for all of you who are choosing to love and serve in a practical, and EXTRAVAGANTLY and GENEROUS way. You rock!


Revised February 11, 2015 Thankful to Karla Redditte – NBC 12 for doing a segment on Mardi Bras RVA – you can watch the clip here >> NBC12 Interview and Video. Update on needs:  I spent the morning at the Richmond City Justice Center – RCJC (aka the city jail) and learned that a good number of folks who stay there have once been or will be homeless within a year of getting out. That’s due to LOTS of reasons. Let’s not be judgmental about that. They have needs too… but their needs are special.  We are called to serve and love the imprisoned.  Let’s love them well. Please take note: WHITE ONLY bras and underwear.  NO UNDERWIRE in the bras. Plus, they too need pads, tampons, etc. They do get some, but not as many as they really need. There are around 100 women in the RCJC right now (out of 1100 residents).  Let’s see what we can do to support these ladies. We are working on other opportunities where we can serve there. Stay tuned!


Revised February 5th: Thankful for new partners along with folks who are catering and baking! Big news coming next week! Stay Tuned!


REVISED JANUARY 28th: Based on what I am hearing and already receiving in deliveries…I know.. exciting, right??? Deliveries already!!! You all rock!!! NEED MORE PADS!! – both menstrual and incontinence pads and adult diapers. NEED LESS TAMPONS!! We have plenty coming in!  NEED NEW UNDERWEAR MORE THAN NEW BRAS!  And we really prefer NEW!


REVISED JANUARY 26: INFORMATION HAS BEEN UPDATED TO BETTER REFLECT THE NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY. PLEASE READ PURCHASING TIPS BELOW! WE ALSO ARE ADDING NEW RECIPIENTS OF THE PRODUCTS! THANKS TO THOSE YOU ARE ASSISTING WITH COLLECTIONS! I’VE HEARD OF HAIR SALONS, BANKS, CHURCHES, BIBLE STUDIES AND SMALL GROUPS, OFFICES, AND MORE! YOU GUYS ARE AH-MAZING! I’M OVERWHELMED!   FLYER TO POST IN YOUR PLACE OF WORK, CHURCH, ETC. >>    Be sure to include your information on the bottom if you are collecting for others. THANKS!  MARTI


How many pair of underwear do you have in your drawer right now? How many bras? When ‘that time of the month’ comes, do you wonder where you will obtain your supplies of pads or tampons? Sorry – if you are a guy and reading this, I dare you to ask your wife, daughter, sister, girlfriend, or mother these questions. I recently talked with a few women who used to be homeless and spent a lot of time on the street. They wondered about this every day… and every month. Supplies are NOT readily available for women who are homeless or on a low or restricted income. No – food stamps and other resources do NOT cover feminine protection. Then, I read this article…For Homeless Women, Getting Their Period Is One Of The Most Difficult Challenges which confirmed what I thought. It’s a problem that can be easily solved and we decided to do something about it.  So, here’s the deal. We are going to collect pads, tampons, new bras, new underwear and incontinence pads for women who are homeless or on low/restricted income! Keep reading! MARDI GRAS, where women bare their breasts for beads in New Orleans, is right around the corner. Instead of revealing our breasts, we are going to work at covering some! Mardi Bras 2015 Picture MARDI BRAS, where we are hosting 2 Open Houses to collect NEW bras, NEW underwear, pads, tampons, poise pads for homeless and low income families. It was also suggested to get menstrual cups, too, although we don’t need many of those! 2 OPEN HOUSE GATHERINGS: We are hosting 2 gatherings. This is a time for diverse people to come together to solve a common problem! Everyone is welcome to attend!

Monday Night        2/16       5-8pm              2/24    5-8pm

Tuesday Morning   2/17      10a-12noon     2/25   10a-12noon

LOCATION:

Miss Marti’s House, an urban ministry of Into The Neighborhood, Inc.                                        2101 Barton Avenue; Richmond, VA 23222

If you are on Facebook, join the FB Group >> https://www.facebook.com/groups/MardiBrasRVA/ If you can attend, please RSVP to the gathering you can attend here:

~ Monday Night, 2/16            5-8pm   FB Invite – https://www.facebook.com/events/752391614844746/

~ Tuesday Morning, 2/17      10a-12noon  FB Invite – https://www.facebook.com/events/300731026804393

If you able to bring a snack to share, that would be greatly appreciated, too! PURCHASING TIPS: We are collecting:

  • Menstrual Pads and some tampons. Pads are needed more than tampons, please.
  • Incontinence Pads and adult diapers.
  • NEW Bras – of ALL sizes! Please remember larger sizes, too.
  • NEW Women’s underwear – of ALL sizes! Please remember larger sizes, too.

I’ve learned the following from talking to some of our resources and friends!

  • UPDATE:  After speaking to partner organizations, we learned that there is a need for PADS of all kinds – for mentstruation and incontinence, as well as adult diapers!
  • Remember larger sized women for bras and undies! We need more of them than the smaller sizes!!!
  • Without going into a lot of details, menstrual cups are not that successful for homeless women in the RVA area (because there are not many sanitary places for them to be used and it becomes dangerous/unclean.) Although many of the prostitutes can still use them because they can still conduct business. We just won’t need a lot of them.
  • Check back often! We will update as we learn more! More to come!

CONTRIBUTIONS: If you want to make a contribution, make your check to Into The Neighborhood and include a note that says Mardi Bras RVA, and we will use the funds to provide the necessary products. Mail it to:

Into The Neighborhood  2101 Barton Ave Richmond, VA 23222


We are thankful for these gifts and contributions:  A real answer to prayer!!!

GFC Catering for catering both gatherings.

The Cake Lady – for supplying beautiful cakes for both gatherings!


OTHER NEEDS:

  • Tell your friends, clubs, small groups, pastors, hair salons, etc.
  • People who can help pack and deliver to supporting organizations.

ORGANIZATIONS WE ARE SUPPORTING: Check back often because we will update the list!

SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS INFORMATION: If you know of a place that could use these items, give them a call and let us know what they need, so that we can collect and distribute them. Send the following information to missmartishouse[at]me[dot]com.

  • Organization Name
  • Contact Name, Number, Email
  • Women they support and how they support them.
  • Supplies Needed
  • Are you willing to attend one of the gatherings to share about the plight of women who are homeless in the Metro RVA area?

Thanks! Look forward to seeing you all!


Homeless and Day Warming and Overflow Shelter Sites

It’s the time of year when our friends who sleep outside need a warm place to lay their heads. Please note the following press release that came out earlier today and make notes for the future! Sorry that I didn’t read and post it sooner. PLEASE NOTE IN BOLD AND ITALICS BELOW… In order to sleep in the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter, you must have a referral. Note: There are NO services (that I know of…) on the weekends! Sigh.

City’s Day Warming Site Open ~~~ Saturday, December 13 Through Monday, December 15

The City’s Cold Weather Day Warming site will open on Saturday, December 13, Sunday, December 14, and Monday, December 15 from 6:30 a.m. to noon.

LOCATION:

  • Saturday and Monday – shelter guests should enter through the doors at 9th and Clay streets, closest to the court building.
  • Sunday – City’s Department of Social Services Marshall Plaza location, 900 East Marshall Street.

 City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter (overnight) Open ~~~  December 12 through December 14 

The City’s Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will open tonight, December 12, Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14 as overnight temperatures are forecast to remain at or below 40 degrees during this period.

The overflow shelter is located in the City’s Public Safety Building at 505 North 9th Street. The shelter entrance is the second entrance on the 9th Street side of the building closest to Leigh Street. The shelter opens at 7 p.m. and closes the following morning at 6 a.m. Shelter registration will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food will not be provided and pets are not allowed.

Residents in need of overnight shelter are asked to report to Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry by 5 p.m. today for a comprehensive intake and referral to the appropriate shelter. Commonwealth Catholic Charities Homeless Point of Entry is located at 511 West Grace Street. A referral to the Cold Weather Overflow Shelter will be provided to individuals who are not eligible for an existing shelter or if all available beds have been filled.

Individuals seeking access to the Overflow Shelter must have a referral.

Other Cold Weather Notes:

The City’s Department of Social Services provides emergency assistance with gas and electric disconnection notices for residents who qualify. Residents may also call the Fuel Line at (804) 646-7046.

The elderly or residents with disabilities should contact Senior Connections for assistance at (804) 343-3000, Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Challenge By Choice

Louis and I have been walking along side a mom and her children as they try to navigate the complex, arduous processes of the government and non-profit systems for ‘helping’ the homeless. (You may have read some of it in my last post…  If you missed it, check this out….  Help Even the Unrighteous Poor.) Some time in the near future, I’m going to write at length all the steps, phone calls, emails, etc. that we have made to city council, DSS, RRHA, Commonwealth Catholic Charities – Central Intake, and countless non-profits. Yet, this family is still living in a hotel with no access to a kitchen.  She’s currently on unemployment, because her seasonal position ended….a whopping $100.  Since she’s on unemployment her food stamps have decreased to $400….to feed a family consisting of herself plus 4 children under the age of 18.  And…remember….food stamps doesn’t cover prepared foods. So, without a kitchen food choices are limited. And, her food stamps haven’t lasted the whole month.  Thankfully she does have a car to get to a decent grocery store, but gas is running low – as she now has to transport her children to 3 different schools…not to mention all the running around…trips to DSS, RRHA, Central Intake, etc.  

Did you know that shelter space for families has a few week waiting list???  Where are all of those families living???? In this families’ case, they could be with a family member – exposing their children to drugs/alcohol addictions and all that comes with it and worse.

Oh yeah…and RRHA has 3-4 bedroom apartments available.  Yet, she can’t have one, because she hasn’t taken the required budgeting class, orientation, etc which aren’t scheduled for weeks.

So, she remains in a hotel…funded by who????  Oh….take a guess.  Let’s just say – it’s NOT any of those organizations, although she did get a week from DSS.

And today I learn…Mom has a job orientation tomorrow AND got a phone call for a housing opportunity at the same time. Which do you choose when you can’t do both???

Getting the idea????

Church… what are we doing about that???  what CAN we do?

There’s another family who we are doing life with… food stamps cut to $400 for a family of mom and 5 children under the age of 18….3 of which are growing boys. Car is working, but needs new tags. She can’t get to her job.

How could that be?

Did I mention that the schools are closed? Therefore children who usually receive breakfast and lunch are now hungry…really hungry.

Church… what are we doing about that?  what CAN we do?

I’m not just talking about handing out free food, although we could use some for both families! (Let me know if you are interested!) I’m talking about relationships…mentoring…loving. When I read the Bible, I don’t read that Jesus said – “oh…go on down to the Food Bank, DSS, RRHA, RBHA or any other organization.”  When I read about the Good Samaritan, this is what I read…

Luke 10:25-37  (NLT)

The Most Important Commandment

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Church – who is your neighbor???

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Let’s take a look at that again…

‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

When you look at our current system of taking care of the least of these, does ‘neighbor loving’ look like the way Jesus described it in verses 33 and 34???

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him

In modern times, what does compassion look like???

34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.

  • How can we treat the wounds of abuse, addiction, family fragmentation, limited education, lack of financial skills, job restrictions?
  • What is modern day ‘olive oil and wine”? We can’t just bandage them without the treatment.
  • So what does it look like to sooth the wounds in today’s time??

34 (cont) Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 

  •  OK…so then, he carried him to the inn on his donkey.  That means he had to walk! They both couldn’t ride on the donkey. Which really means he WALKED BESIDE HIM while guiding the donkey to a place of healing. An inn. Where he took care of the battered and broken.  
  • What does it look like to WALK ALONG SIDE of a beat up, tired, frustrated, hopeless family who has no place to lay their head?

So, I am left wondering…where was this Samaritan Man going? Where was he walking when he happened along the beat up man??  How could he afford the time to stop what he was doing?  We don’t know that part of the story. But, what we do know….is that he stopped. He put his plans on hold. And he walked alongside a beat up, naked man.  He gave of his OWN money and he STAYED in the process with him until he could take of himself.

What would that look like today? For a unsuspecting person or family to walk along side a broken, beat-up, naked, hungry, possibly homeless family until they could take care of themselves?  Anyone willing to try?

That is your challenge….by choice because it IS a choice…a conscious decision. What choice will you make?


A Different Kind of Easter

Short Update:  

Well, for the 2nd year in a row, Louis isn’t behind the pulpit of a church on Easter Sunday.  And for the 2nd year in a row, we won’t be doing church like most Christians. Last year, we held a pancake brunch at the house for folks who aren’t usually in a church.  You can read about our 2012 Easter (with pictures!!!) here > Easter – Acts 2 Style.

This year, we were prayerfully searching for a place to “Do the Bible” and “Be the Church” this Easter Weekend.  Today, we had our annual Easter Egg Hunt for our community. (See here > Candy, Bunny and Eggs…Oh My!)  Tomorrow morning…Easter Morning, Louis and I will NOT be sporting our Sunday Best.  But, we will be giving our best while on God’s mission with some of RVA’s ‘Urban Campers’ (our friend Nelson’s new name for the Homeless)!

Thanks for the connection to Alpha and Omega, Nelson!  Can’t wait to meet and serve Pastor Carolyn and some of your friends!

My Prayer for This Easter

Lord, while we remember and rejoice and while we renew our faith and hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the ultimate reconciler, I pray that Louis and I will be reconciled to our new friends….these Urban Campers. I confess and repent that I have not always known how to love them.  Teach me how to love.  Show me.  Change the way I  see those who camp in our cities.  May I love as You love.  May I see as You see. Lord, I long to see Your miraculous healing and changes in our beloved city.  Begin in me.  Renew my Spirit, so that I may serve others in grace and mercy.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.