By Caleb Ratzlaff
Mennonite churches have been relatively successful at doing good for the most vulnerable in our society. Important work often seen as for our neighbours might include: building housing, serving meals, and sponsoring refugees. During a neighbourhood glowride my approach to good works began to change from doing for, to working with the most vulnerable. Before talking about that small but important distinction, I need to tell you about glowrides.
For the second time in a year, numerous street workers were arrested this past week during a Niagara Region Police sweep of the Queenston neighbourhood. As part of their arrest, these women have been banned from the area between Queenston to the north, Westchester to the south and Oakdale/Geneva to the East and West. Although intended to improve the neighbourhood, these kinds of sweeps only make it more difficult for these women to receive help from their community and support base. Thankfully, the court order was amended to allow the Westview Centre4Women to be exempt from the ban Tuesday - Thursday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. With this exception secured, WC4W is serving as a place where the women can access those services they depend on that operate out of the quarantine zone including: Positive Living, Start Me Up Niagara, Deb Nanson, YWCA - Stomp, Stacy Allegro Community Nurse, and Street Works. Westview Christian Fellowship and Westview Centre4Women know these women; we know their children and are part of their community. It breaks our hearts to witness this continuing ordeal.
We ask you to pray for the women arrested, for their families, and loved ones. Pray that they receive the support they need and continue to find love, joy, and peace despite obstacles in their lives.
Pray for the services working out of, and including, the Centre. Pray that they don’t lose hope in the important work they do but instead push harder to see the women in this community given the support they need.
Pray for the city of St. Catharines. Pray that our Compassionate City Initiative is able to focus on the people that live in our city’s neighbourhoods, including those individuals who are repeatedly swept out. Our city is not made of real-estate alone, but rather real-estate that is a home to its inhabitants. The city loses pieces of itself each time people are swept out.
This blog has multiple contributors. The beliefs and opinions expressed by each are one-sided and partial. We hope that by confronting and expressing our one-sidedness through dialogue this blog is able to reflect the life of Westview as we gather together and live in the Queenston Neighbourhood and beyond. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Caleb at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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