On Wednesday morning I woke up and headed to Cafe 458 to meet Jyssica who is one of the members of the South Atlanta Team. On Wednesday I would visit the work sites of all of the members of that team. Cafe 458 is a cafe that is open on Sunday for a gourmet brunch and the profits go to the Atlanta Center for Self-suficiency. During the week they also cook meals for those who are going through the various programs that the center runs.
After meeting with Jyssica for a bit and learning about her site and about her experiences with Mission Year, I headed to the next site where I met Maureen. Maureen is a recent high school graduate who decided to do Mission Year before heading off to college in order to get a bit of life experience. At the site where she works they have various projects such as Business clothing distribution, storage bins, computers, phones, and other things that their clients can use. They first, however, have to go through an empowerment class where the people are given information on how to find and get jobs and given various skills training. They also can work with people to help them get a GED. I spent some time at the kitchen there where we fed the people going through the class.
The next stop what Charis Community Housing to meet Kaitlin. Kaitlin showed me around and told me a bout Charis. She works with the others in the office to find housing opportunities for those who may not be able to find it otherwise. They do not have housing themselves but work more as a networking organizations. There is also Glencastle next door which is housing. It is ironically an old debtors prison that they have since turned in to transitional housing. People can live at Glencastle while looking for jobs and other housing.
The next stop would have been the Georgia Justice Project but unfortunately I could not get in touch with the contact there so I moved on to the last stop to meet Emily, the team leader of the South Atlanta Team. She worked close to the house they stayed at and worked at a thrift store that was connected to a coffee shop. These two businesses were used to empower the community. They offered jobs to people in the neighborhood and they also gave an outlet for people to donate their old stuff and others could then buy it at low cost. I like thrift stores because they are a way of taking big business somewhat out of the equation and keeping money in the community. People can often even still buy name brand products but they have already been bought and so the money is now no longer going to big business but to the community.
As I mentioned about some of the other members of Mission Year, each of the girls I met plan on finding a way to live out intentional community after they leave. Some will be doing that through various ministries such as youth ministry at local churches, others will be going back to school, and others are still not sure how their future will shape out but they want to be sure to get connected with their neighbors and community.
Overall, my three days with Mission Year turned out to be a great experience. I was able to see one more model of intentional community and how they can both empower the people living in the houses and the communities in which they are located.
Soon I will be back to update about my time with John Perkins. That will take more than just one post...