God has been doing incredible things through Kaleidoscope Community Services! God has been changing lives through the relational involvement of over 300 different volunteers from over 30 different local churches, as well as through the generous support of dozens of individual and business donors. It is with all humility and thanksgiving that we can say that literally thousands of lives have been touched by the Lord through the ministry of Kaleidoscope Community Services since its humble beginnings in 2013.
INSPIRE stories are meant to pass along just a taste of the fruit of what God has been doing in our midst. Please enjoy and celebrate these stories with us- All Glory to God!
Fred is an African American man in his 70’s. Fred is a very colorful, salty, and well liked character. Fred makes everyone laugh. A strong and hardworking man, Fred was employed all of his working years in the south, mainly in the automobile manufacturing industry. Fred came from a large family of hard working people, but never had a family of his own. After retirement, Fred’s drinking habits progressed into chronic alcoholism, burned bridges with his family, and eventually in to homelessness as a transient. Fred’s monthly retirement checks were consistently spent on buying alcohol for him and the people he met on the street as he migrated across the country.
Fred ended up in Coeur d’ Alene in 2013. Shortly after arriving he had a stroke which left him partially paralyzed and living on the street. On two different occasions Fred was taken in by ‘friends’ who helped him spend his monthly retirement check on beer and cigarettes. Fred would often be seen limping around Coeur d’ Alene dragging his belongings behind him- alone and exploited.
Fred came to the 2nd Street Commons (a ministry of Kaleidoscope Community Services) during the late winter of 2014, and became a ‘frequent flyer’- a regular fixture. We all enjoyed his humor and respected his resiliency. Even though his circumstances were dire- he was always up. As we got to know Fred, and as we became more aware of his situation, we began to look for a way to get Fred off the street. A friend of Kaleidoscope Community Services (KCS) became aware of Fred’s situation and agreed to sell Fred a really nice, older motorhome for $ 500.00. KCS paid for the first month at a local RV park, where Fred lived for 8 months.
As Fred’s health began to decline, it became apparent the Fred was not going to be able to live alone. KCS rented a house and moved Fred into his own room with two men who had agreed to help Fred. Fred loved living in that old house! He said that it had been many years since he lived under a real roof, felt safe at night, and had real friends who didn’t expect anything from him.
After four months we began to see significant decline in Fred’s health. One morning we got a call from one of Fred’s room-mates that Fred was not responding to him. An ambulance was called and Fred was transported to the emergency room where it was diagnosed that Fred had suffered a major stroke. Fred was transferred to Hospice House where he passed 10 days later.
Fred did not die homeless. Fred did not die alone. Fred was surrounded by people who cared for him. It was an honor to help Fred in life, and an honor to serve him by attending to his funeral and cremation after he died.
Spencer moved up to Coeur d’Alene from Oregon with a trio of friends in the spring of 2014. When their group showed up at the 2nd Street Commons, I have to admit that red flags immediately went up for our volunteers. When a group of young people show up who are homeless, rowdy, and obviously on drugs, it’s hard not to fit them in to the ‘questionable’ category. We try not to do it, but it happens. Though very congenial, Spencer emerged as a sassy know-it-all, punk-type kid. He typically would come in, utilize resources, make a mess, talk crap about everything and everybody, and just act like he was he had ‘something’ going on behind the scenes.
We started to get to know more about Spencer when he joined one of our ‘Friends Helping Friends’ (FHF) groups at the 2nd Street Commons. As time went by I personally started to not only understand Spencer in relation to his history, I started to really like him. It also helped that after a number of meetings with FHF, his behavior and attitude began to transform. One day Spencer came in with a huge smile on his face- “I got a job!” he joyfully yelped out. “I haven’t had a real job in a long time!”, he went on- and we all celebrated with him!
As the winter of 2014 began to set in, Spencer and his new (and better) friends were residing in an old Subaru station wagon. Through Kaleidoscope Community Services (KCS), we placed Spencer and a friend of his in a donated 5th wheel trailer in a local RV park for the winter. KCS made the first monthly payment, then Spencer and his roommate covered the space rent from there. In the spring we helped Spencer and some roommates transition into a mobile home, and he took it from there.
From a very rocky start, and over a two year period, Spencer flourished- even through difficult times. He has kept that same job, being promoted and trusted as a shift manager, enrolled himself in our local community college, reconciled with his mother down in California, and has grown up as a man. He has also grown by leaps and bounds in his faith in Jesus- and there’s fruit in keeping with his faith. Spencer also now serves as a volunteer staff member at the 2nd Street Commons. Spencer loves to help and encourage people from the street.
This is what we do. We invite people into our family at the 2nd Street Commons- no matter what their starting place is. From there, using KCS resources, we invest in helping people who want to help themselves. Finally, we invite those whom we’ve helped to be a part of our team- because they have understanding, compassion, and wisdom to work fruitfully among the broken.
Lance has pancreatic cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Lance is homeless. Lance use to have everything you and I have- healthy family relationships (married with children), pets, a house, a car, a job. Because of bad luck Lances’ life started to change, and he began to make bad decisions. Lance lost everything and ended up on the street. This is a familiar pattern with the people we meet at 2nd Street Commons.
We met Lance through a local social worker from Kootenai Health. Their caring team was beside themselves because they didn’t have a place for Lance to go and die. Lance had declined Hospice care because his 14-year-old son was visiting for the summer. Their team at KH Social Services were desperate to find a place for this homeless man and his son. I told them that I didn’t have a resource at the present time, but that I would look around. This was on a Thursday.
Here is where God’s grace and mercy enter the story through Reba. Reba is an upper middle class woman of comfortable means. Reba has worked hard all her life and has firm judgements against homeless people- she sees them as lazy, manipulative, and scary. However, at the behest of her boyfriend, who works as a Peer Support Specialist for Heritage Health down at the 2nd Street Commons, Reba decides to donate her older motorhome (she affectionately refers to as ‘Clyde’) to us to use as temporary crisis housing for homeless persons. This donation happened on a Friday- the day after I got the call about Lance.
Through the generosity of another friend who had an RV lot in Coeur d’Alene, Lance and his son were able to move in to ‘Clyde’ the following Monday. Lance wept at the news. Reba also wept when told of ‘Clyde’s’ first assignment.
Because of God’s grace and mercy, at work in those who know Him and also in those who don’t know Him (yet), a homeless man has a place to die, a woman has her heart softened, social workers have the opportunity to see the Church at work, a Christian brother has an opportunity to put his resource to good use, and an old RV sitting unused in a backyard is now a holy tabernacle of the Lord and an instrument of His good work.
Don’t you love it when His plans come together?
If you have an old RV or camp trailer that you’re willing to donate, let us know! God has a plan for it…
36 degrees. Raining. Wind howling. Blackness of a winter night. My daughter and I are freezing. Nowhere to go. Nothing is open tonight. We have no money. Our coats and packs are wet. Trying to find someplace dry. Walking. Walking. Walking. Searching. Searching. Searching. Wait, the garbage trucks came today. I think I know of an empty place. Welcome to our world tonight. Welcome to our tiny house. We are grateful for it.
During the winter of 2015/2016, there were 140 nights between September 1st and April 10th where the low temperatures overnight were above 28 degrees and below 45 degrees. Most of those nights included significant winds and precipitation. On those nights, when the risks for those persons trapped outside were life threatening, there were no shelter or warming center options available. 140 nights of hell for some of our most vulnerable community members. We can do better.
Fred is an African American man in his 70’s. Fred is a very colorful, salty, and well liked character. Fred makes everyone laugh....
Spencer moved up to Coeur d’Alene from Oregon with a trio of friends in the spring of 2014. When their group showed up at the 2nd Street Commons, I have to admit that red flags immediately went up.....
Lance has pancreatic cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Lance is homeless. Lance use to have everything you and I have....
36 degrees. Raining. Wind howling. Blackness of a winter night. My daughter and I are freezing. Nowhere to go. Nothing is open tonight......
Tom and Lauren came to Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho with all their belongings stuffed in a U-Haul truck. They left Western Washington to get away from the drug culture they were living in and to make a fresh start in a new place.....
Ryan and Lacey first came by the 2nd Street Commons the day after a burst pipe left 3” of water all over our floor, in early December of 2013.
People matter; this is a moral, social justice issue. We have community members who want and need help who are trying to survive outside.
Current strategies for addressing our local homelessness issues are not solving the issue of homelessness.
Left to themselves, the local homeless population will continue to be problematic. This population needs more help and guidance to emerge from their state of homelessness.
Current strategies for dealing with our homeless communities are costing our county millions of dollars annually.
406 students in school district 271 are listed as ‘homeless’. Over half of these students are Kindergarten - 5th grade.
According to the office 2016 Point in Time count, there were 450 homeless persons in our region, with 57% listed as ‘unsheltered homeless’ (as opposed to 14% in the Boise area).
Homelessness is on the rise across America, in spite of the national ’10 Year Plan’ to end homelessness initiated in 2005.
While very helpful, temperature based shelter and warming center models do not ‘stabilize’ people.