Why Can’t We Work Together?

Posted: May 14, 2012 in homelessness, politics
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A group of advocates for military veterans and high-profile local supporters want to build new temporary housing for homeless veterans. The project is called “Vets Town,” and aspires to provide housing and job training.

There were an estimated 600 homeless veterans in the Omaha area last year. Organizers said that the site could house 54 people immediately and potentially expand to more than 100 residents. The project would provide medical assistance to veterans, along with job training and educational opportunities.

But now, the Omaha World Herald has reported that fractures have appeared in the plan to build the new Omaha housing project for homeless veterans one week after Mayor Jim Suttle joined civic and business leaders at a City Hall press conference to build support for the effort.

Organizers said last week they were in the earliest stages of raising the estimated $3 million needed to construct the facility, when Mike Fornear, national operations manager for the Homeless Veterans Project, and Ed Shada, a local bank executive and head of Project Homeless Connect Omaha, both claimed that they own the name “Vets Town”.

Fornear said he copyrighted the term “Vets Town” last summer for a transitional housing for veterans and turned to Project Homeless Connect Omaha as a potential development partner. Shada said Fornear had no claim to the name “Vets Town” and said his attorneys had filed for use of the name and associated websites.

News of the severed relationship took Suttle’s office by surprise and it was unclear whether other civic leaders would remain involved with the Homeless Veterans Project.

This news was heartbreaking for me since my heart is drawn so much to the homeless community, and especially to those who have sacrificed so much for our country; and now this much needed project will be delayed even more over ownership of the name?

Sadly, this type of scenario plays out all too often within organizations designed to help those in the community. Many times I have witnessed unnecessary competition between different homeless shelters. All of them are committed to helping the homeless community and do a great job of offering a much needed service to the most vulnerable in the community. But I often wonder how much more they could accomplish if they would just work together.

And it’s no different within the church community. I read in the Bible that the early Church worked to bring unity to the Body of Christ. “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32- NLT) But today The Church is divided in heart and mind and share very little of what they have.

Twice I have tried to start a Christian coffee house ministry and both times the local businesses were very supportive of the plan. But in both instances it was the local churches that criticized the plan and worked against it — Possibly out of fear of losing members.

I have even seen divisions within a church body itself! Many church bodies have been split over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary! This should not be! How do churches expect to draw others into the kingdom when there is so much infighting among its members?

These churches and organizations could take a lesson from the seven counties of metro Denver where, despite the increased need in these tough economic times — For the first time in years, have banded together to ensure that people who need shelter will not end up sleeping on the streets. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16900806

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford –

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