This is the view from the front porch at Open Arms Community center. If I had taken this photo last year, you would have not been able to see the house on the far left due to all the trees blocking it. The green house on the right would have been yellow and in very poor condition, and the red and yellow house on the far right would not have been under construction for repairs.
The neighborhood around us is changing. Quickly!
And this picture doesn’t even show the apartment buildings near us which have been recently sold. According to the neighbors I had conversations with before they moved out, some will be fixed up and rented out for a higher rate, while others will be fixed up and remodeled and then sold again as a single-family home for a much higher price.
There is a word for what is happening in our neighborhood: gentrification.
It's not good news for us considering the goal of our ministry is to "mitigate the effects of poverty, low educational achievement, addiction, and socio-economic and racial prejudice... in the Waughtown neighborhood". It's hard to do that when the people who fall into some of the groups we want to reach are literally being forced out of the neighborhood.
Thus, we are asking ourselves how we can be most effective in our ministry. The work we do is still vitally important. What has changed is the boundary of our reach. Instead of simply reaching out to within a few blocks from the center, as in the early days of the Open Arms Community, as the years go by, we extend our reach further and further from our home base. Our van becomes more and more important as we increasingly need to transport children, youth, and possibly even whole families to our programs now and in the future.
The neighborhood is changing, but we’re still here. Our ministry is not leaving. We may change our approach, but our arms will still be open, and we will still welcome those in the most need.