Rising Above Housing & Employment Initiative – Grande Prairie
http://risingabovegp.com/ Rising Above was a dream of Pastor Mel Siggelkow from North Country Community Church (NCCC). Mel and NCCC had always had a heartfelt compassion for people who are living in cycles of defeat. In June of 2007 the church moved into its current location at 10008-100th Ave. The building is right in downtown Grande Prairie, one block away from the area of town known to be the hangout for street people. The building has 3 floors: the main level houses the church, the basement facilitates the Sunday School classes and a large group meeting area, and the upper level was used as rental property, including a shared living room, kitchen and laundry facilities along with 3 bathrooms, a shower room and ten bedrooms.
The church was excitedly exploring opportunities to use this new space for ministry. Meanwhile, the local newspaper posted an ad from the City of Grande Prairie.
With no expertise in this area, Mel and some church members drafted a proposal to use their location as a housing and employment initiative to serve the homeless community of Grande Prairie. The city’s response was “we can tell that you’ve never prepared a proposal before, but we really like your idea.” And so began a great partnership between the province of Alberta, the city of Grande Prairie and North Country Community Church.
Rising Above started with one staff member running a program that housed 10 men in the upper level of the church. The men were provided with a safe place to live and were offered some programming to help learn how to stay off the street. Through many trials and learning situations, Rising Above has grown to what it is today.
We now have five full time staff, one full time summer intern and four locations with the capacity to house 20 participants: Richmond House which houses ten men, Montrose House which houses 4 women, South Centron House which houses 3 women and North Centron House which houses 3 men who are transitioning out of the program. All participants are able to stay, free of charge, for 6 months. In that time they spend two full days per week in life-skills programming, 5 hours per week volunteering at local non-profit organizations and 5 hours per week completing personal soul work. They attend a minimum of 4 “12-step” or related meetings, 1 one-on-one counselling session and 1 accountability session with staff each week. The participants also help in maintaining the cleanliness of the homes and yards and work part time.
The ultimate goal of rising above is that each participant is able to maintain their housing when they leave the program. That they are able to remain clean and sober, hold down jobs and live self-sufficiently. We hope to give them enough tools, resources and support that they will be able to deal with life in the “real” world.