As both a member at Vox and a staff member of our local missions partner, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, it’s been awesome to see the Vox community come up alongside one of the most exciting missional efforts in our East Austin area.
That vision is called the Community First! Village, a 27-acre master-planned community that will provide affordable, sustainable housing and a supportive community for about 250 of our brothers and sisters currently experiencing chronic homelessness on our streets.
One of MLF’s goals is to use the fellowship of food and hospitality to connect human to human, heart to heart. The Genesis Gardens program is at the center of that food operation, starting from the ground up by growing some of the best food on the planet on a three-acre farm filled with vegetables, fruit trees, fish, rabbits and chickens.
It’s been amazing to see the connecting power of food happen before it even leaves the ground, as ZAMYN kids and parents from Vox work alongside and get to know the program’s homeless and formerly homeless garden managers, and help those managers build the beautiful community in which they will one day, very soon, be able to live.
Each Genesis Gardens work day does deliver on the ultimate goods, though—an amazing Cowboy Brunch cooked up by a truly talented homeless chef and a team of volunteers. These brunches are just a taste of what’s to come in the future, when the work that Vox volunteers have invested into the gardens begins to bear more and more fruit. But in the meantime they provide a delicious backdrop for community-building, and they are literally the only meal you’ll find in Austin in which the homeless are hosting and serving the volunteers.
Contact Steven to sign up for Vox’s last official Genesis Gardens workday on July 19.
Another of MLF’s goals is to help the chronically homeless to rediscover and utilize their God-given talents to do purposeful work, and in doing so to earn dignified income, which will help them to obtain and retain the affordable housing offered at the village. The ROADS program does this through a variety of avenues—art, woodworking, metalworking, mobile food vending and more.
One of the ROADS program’s newest ventures is blacksmithing. This age-old art not only allows our homeless friends to earn income, but also provides a shared, creative activity around which community can be built. During MLF’s first Blacksmithing & Brunch event, homeless artisans and volunteers (including our own David Salinas) forged S-hooks for hanging planters around the village before joining the Cowboy Brunch.
The ROADS workshop is moving locations right now from another property onto the actual village land, creating a plethora of volunteer opportunities. Vox volunteers like Dave Massman have been amazing nurturers of the program and we can always use more folks like that to come alongside.
If you have woodworking experience or want to sign up for the next Blacksmithing & Brunch day, contact Evan.
Finally, MLF CEO Alan Graham gave a village tour to Vox a few weeks ago and we had a blast out there. If you would like to put together your own tour group and come out to get a first-hand experience, please contact Evan.