Monthly Archives: April 2015

Educating Homeless Families

by Dr. Chad Audi

It’s probably something you don’t give much thought to, but have you ever wondered how well homeless children perform in school? Due to their unstable living environment, many are at increased risk of not learning as well as other children. But, one way of increasing the chance of academic success is to provide education programs for the entire family.

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) is pleased to be involved in a pilot project called the “Family Learning Program,” administered by the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher Center (SVSF) and funded by Reading Works of Detroit.

The program works like this: SVSF creates personalized education programs for homeless women and children staying at our Genesis House II transitional housing facility. In a press release, Diane Renaud, SVSF executive director and CEO, said: “We believe that by working with multiple generations simultaneously, it will help break the cycle of resistance to education faster.”

Makes sense, right? After all, much of what a child learns about life comes from watching his or her parents. So why not teach academics and employment skills to the entire family at the same time!

Many of DRMM’s clients need help improving their reading skills. Detroit has an alarmingly high illiteracy rate: 47-percent of adults, according to the National Institute for Literacy. Without the ability to read adequately, it is difficult for our clients to learn job skills and land employment as we help them rebuild their lives. The ability to read is essential for them to become self-sufficient, productive citizens in our society.

Meanwhile, the children will get personalized assistance with their school work to make sure they keep up with the standard levels of achievement as they progress to the next grade. We also expect that this family learning opportunity will raise the self-esteem and confidence of the women and their children.

Thank you, SVSF and Reading Works. We are excited about the potential of this pilot project!

Dr. Chad Audi

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Homeless Jesus

by Dr. Chad Audi

A 7-foot bronze sculpture depicting Jesus as a homeless man huddled under a blanket on a park bench is stirring up controversy around the world. The statue is identifiable as Jesus only by the crucifixion wounds on his feet. The sculptor, Timothy Schmalz, has installed casts in the U.S., Canada and Europe. And now it could be coming to my home of Detroit.

An anonymous donor who grew up in a Detroit suburb is contributing the $32,000 needed to have the statue installed. But the reactions are mixed.

While Pope Francis calls it a “beautiful and excellent” representation of Jesus, others say it demeans Jesus. And yet others have mistaken the statue for a homeless person and alerted police.

The artist says the sculpture is meant as a call to action among Christians. He sees it as a way to inspire people to help those in need. In fact, people have been leaving money, food and other items for the homeless at the statue outside a church in Buffalo, New York.

So, should we welcome the so-called “Homeless Jesus” as a sign of the hunger and despair faced by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe? Is the sculpture a means of confronting homelessness and drawing attention to the plight of the homeless?

Well, let’s start by asking “What would Jesus think?”

We know that Jesus showed his concern for the homeless and poor. He talked about feeding the hungry and caring for the needy. Matthew 25:45 reads, “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ”

Jesus himself spent much of his life as a homeless person. He was a homeless baby, born in a stable. Later, during His public ministry, He didn’t have a permanent place to call home. And, when he was crucified, he was stripped of everything — home, clothing and possessions.

Here at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we provide services to more than 1,400 homeless and needy people every day. One could argue that the donor’s generous contribution could have been put to better use at the many non-profit organizations in the Detroit area like ours that provide a multitude of services to the homeless, hungry and disadvantaged.

But one thing is for sure, the “Homeless Jesus” sculpture is guaranteed to make you stop and think. Let me know your thoughts.

by Dr. Chad Audi

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