• Down Home

Be There or Be Square

We were made for these times.

This line helps keep me grounded when the floodwaters of uncertainty creep in on all sides. During the floodwaters, people will often hear me say that my gray hair is growing faster than I can keep it covered. True story. {Please note: I am still under 40 for a few more months, so please understand that I am trying to maintain my dark roots for a while longer.} Thankfully, just like the great flood of Noah's time, the Lord's covenant prevails. I can stand tall, take a deep breath, and proclaim, "We were made for these times." So, Lord, if you are calling me to Be There or Be Square in this DH journey, you better keep me afloat.

One of the questions that people often ask, "How do you balance it all?" Short reply, "I don't watch TV." Reality is that there IS time for Down Home, but something else did have to go. Adios, Netflix. TV has become a mere memory as I transition from my job as an elementary counselor to my parenting gig, and then to my volunteer gig burning the midnight oil. My fingers hit the keyboard most evenings to respond to emails, create newsletters and documents, or prepare for the next move-in or event. With that said, my more complete reply to the question above is, "There are hundreds of additional volunteer hours going on behind the scenes each month." If you don't believe me, just check out our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter posts. This response fosters the next question:

"How long does it take Down Home to transform an empty space into a comfortable home?"

In reflection, the process today is relatively the same as when we served our first family on December 23, 2017, yet as one of Loretta Lynn's songs states, "We've come a long way, Baby!"

During our first 6 months, we utilized our home basement and garage to store the items purchased for furnishing and decorating homes for our referred families. Thankfully, the winter of 2018 was a little less harsh than 2019 because my vehicle didn't get the luxury of a garage stall that winter. The complete coordination took way longer than necessary as my mom and I scoured Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and clearance aisles for deals to start stocking our inventory. This could also be akin to hoarder syndrome. I honestly felt a little like a hoarder as we started our modest system of organization in tubs along my basement walls. Do not worry though, I only felt like a hoarder. It always feels amazing to purge as we use hundreds of items in each of our referred families' homes.

Guess what? There's more! We also used our own trailers and vehicles to load all items necessary for a move-in. Insert a mental image of The Beverly Hillbillies here. If you don't recall The Beverly Hillbillies, click here for a mental image. We looked and felt a little comical and disheveled in our process. Our meager beginning was honestly time consuming, exhausting, and inefficient. Thankfully, my husband recommended a way to work smarter, not harder, as we started our transition to a new DH location.

"Rent a UHaul to load everything into ONE." Say what? Spend money on a UHaul when we hardly have money to pay rent for our new DH space? With initial hesitancy, I said yes. Believe it or not, my husband's recommendation was brilliant. We have not looked back. This decision has been a saving grace. I should have known that the Lord would provide sanity in our process as well as money for a UHaul and rent! He even went so far as to provide a sponsor who is generously covering our UHaul expenses for 2019! Fist bump to the Heavens. The Lord kind of knows how to get things done.

We are extremely grateful for our 2019 Anonymous UHaul sponsor!

Fast forward 18 months, and our process still looks similar, yet is much more efficient and intentional. Our process is unique as it entails several different steps and stages. Here is the short version, the nitty gritty (dirt band) of how "you and me go fishin' in the dark". In other words, how together, we help light up the night for families transitioning from homelessness into housing. Lord knows it takes a village.

Flowchart for us Visual Learners! (Designer: Kevin Tobosa)

Down Home receives referrals from our COMMUNITY AGENCY PARTNERS who work closely with our F-M families experiencing homelessness. These agencies include Churches United, YWCA, Perry Center, Jeremiah Program, Youthworks, Fraser, & Cass County Community Supervision Unit. Once an APPLICATION is received and ACCEPTED, Down Home MEETS the FAMILY and sees their space (1.5 hours), and goes back to DH to start coordinating everything necessary to transform their empty space into a comfortable home to embrace (8 hours). DH organizes partners and volunteers in preparation of the move-in day (2 hours). By the time move-in day arrives, everything is moved to the front of the warehouse and ready to be loaded in the UHAUL (1 hour). Move-in day is exciting as it allows community members to be a part of the DH process and the BIG REVEAL (4 hours). DH remains in close communication with our families served. Additional resources, inspirational emails, phone calls, coffee gatherings, and our DH Christmas are opportunities to reconnect and help build community connections (countless hours each month).

In summation, DH volunteers dedicate an estimated 16.5 hours per move-in. Hours can be added if we take into account the extra volunteers needed during each of these time frames. Our process is becoming a well oiled machine. With future plans of expansion in mind, we lift our eyes and hands to the Lord. We know if He can feed a crowd of 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish (John 6:1-14), He can do the math to get things done with future DH endeavors.

One way YOU can be a part of helping get things done is by attending our 2nd Annual Hoedown Fundraiser on Sunday, September 15, at Drekker Brewhalla. Come Kick Up Your Boots with our DH team, our event sponsor, Century Builders, and others already registered, as we raise funds to LIGHT UP THE NIGHT for families transitioning from homelessness into housing. Our Hoedown promises to be a sold out event, so round up a team and claim your table today! Oh, and one more thing:

Be there or be square!

Because my spunky youngest daughter says so...

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