Port Orchard’s Bridge to Nowhere
I’ll admit it, we were all a little excited for this year’s crosswalk (the crosswalk that happens on Good Friday where we walk an 8ft tall cross from FLCC down to the port orchard waterfront). After 23 years of doing a very similar path, something new was going to happen at this year’s crosswalk: We were going to get to walk across a brand new bridge that would lead from the St Vincent De Paul parking lot over to the Titus Ford car dealership and from there we would happily dance our way to the waterfront. We were honestly so excited about walking across the new bridge that we didn’t look into it at all because we didn’t want to ruin the joyful surprise.
So Good Friday came and we walked this large cross down to the waterfront on what was a truly gorgeous day. Birds were chirping, the sun was out, and our minds were on what Jesus accomplished for us. We get to the bridge and walk across it… and journey down the newly paved sidewalk… only to find that the sidewalk suddenly ends. There is no way to get from the sidewalk down to the waterfront. Yeah, you are reading it right, like the famous one in Alaska, Port Orchard now also has a bridge to nowhere.
The story of course doesn’t end there, we found our way, back through the Titus Ford dealership parking lot and to our final destination, (and I’m sure there are plans in place to finish off the path), but it got me thinking… how often do we build a bridge to nowhere, how often do we come up with the big plans for only a part of the need and leave it at that, or potentially even worse, see a bridge to nowhere and let it remain a bridge to nowhere.
When I first came to Port Orchard, I didn’t know a ton about Port Orchard. I grew up in Tacoma and only on the rare occasion did I head to Gig Harbor or Purdy, but never to Port Orchard. So when we started setting things up at the church, in order to help people in this community, we decided to add a resource coordinator, a person that would learn the systems that are in place in this area in order to help people, and just as important… find what holes exist in helping people, what bridges to nowhere are we continually shuffling people across.
It didn’t take long to learn the biggest hole, the biggest bridge to nowhere. Housing. We can get you food, we can get you water, we can get you clothes, we can try to find you work and governmental support, we can get you counseling and a haircut, we can do almost anything… except get a roof over your head.
Let’s just start with what we know. Port Orchard is booming. People are moving here by the bunches and that is great. We like people. We like people that are excited about living in this beautiful place that we call home. But with more people comes increased apartment and house rental prices and fewer homes for sale… homes that are selling at even higher prices.
Section 8 housing, housing for those in most desperate need has more than a year of backlog and in some cases, they have stopped taking people’s names. Many shelters are full and places to park you car or RV (if you are living out of your car or RV) are becoming harder to come by. The articles that fill our newspapers and social media are all telling us that this problem of homelessness or shelterlessness is only going to get worse.
That’s the bad news. That is the bridge to nowhere, but it does not need to remain that way.
We recently took part in a comprehensive review of our congregation. A question was asked, “If God had God’s way with your congregation, what would it look like in 5 years?” Five of the eleven responses recorded by the comprehensive review team from members of this congregation were about FLCC tackling homelessness.
We have started working to connect our resource coordinator with other churches and businesses and groups and what they have all said is basically, “we need to do something about homelessness. Setup something on homelessness and we’ll track down money.” Not often do people through out promises of money, but it is happening time and again.
I can honestly see the sidewalk unrolling just beyond the bridge to nowhere leading to that place where all have a roof over their head, all have a place to call home. The real questions are what, how, and when are we going to build it? What, how, and when are we going to come together around this thing that we can all agree is our communities greatest need? What, how, and when are we going to stop just looking at the bridge to nowhere and get to building?
If you are passionate about this… let’s start putting a team together. If you have dreams about this… let’s start sharing those dreams with one another. If you think that everyone deserves a place to rest their head… let’s build a bridge that leads there.