TEN YEARS OF HOPE: THE STORY OF SPERO
The Spero Project Begins!
SPERO=LATIN FOR ‘TO HOPE’
Spero is made up of many innovative projects, each with a focus of mobilizing the Church to know, love, and value under-resourced communities. Our goal is to implement programs serving needs not already being met in our city. This is done through a careful listening and planning process to ensure that our neighbors are supported well and thrive.
WE ARE MOVED BY HOPE TO KNOW AND LEARN FROM NEIGHBORS IN THE MARGINS OF OUR CITY.
REFUGEE COMMUNITY (The Common)
What began as a volunteer-led child-safety class for newly arriving refugees from Burma, grew into a new organization! Spero began meeting needs in the refugees from Burma, grew into a new organization! Spero began meeting needs in the refugee community as they arose and eventually implemented programs like English Classes, After School Programs, Summer Camps, Youth Group, and more. We were able to partner with management at apartment complexes where the resettled refugee community lived in order to be a constant presence providing tangible assistance and, most importantly, meaningful relationships to our new neighbors from around the world.
The first Marked Conference was hosted in 2010. This interactive conference challenges the Church to engage in issues affecting marginalized women locally and globally. In addition to the public conference, Spero hosts a partner conference for the Marked Partner Organizations. Marked Collective offers a space to connect with like-minded individuals, to receive training on issues directly related to work on behalf of marginalized women, and to receive care and support from Spero, encouraging participants to rest and restore.
WE ARE MOVED BY HOPE TO SEE ALL WOMEN, EVERYWHERE, MARKED BY HOPE, FUTURE, AND PROMISE.
The start of what would ultimately become Full. The Spero Project adopted the management of a food pantry serving families dealing with food insecurity across OKC.
WE ARE MOVED BY HOPE TO UNDERSTAND AND ADDRESS SYSTEMS OF INJUSTICE THAT LEAD TO COMMUNITY AND INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.
Our SHARP Program begins. SHARP stands for: Serving Holistically And Redefining Purpose. This program is designed to mobilize theChurch to know, love, and value their neighbors, to learn about unjust systems and practices in our city, and to learn what role to play in response. SHARP is made possible by the amazing instructors who have each dedicated their lives as practitioners, students, and champions of unique issues or areas in OKC.
FULL: SHIFT 1
After much thought, study, and prayer, the existing food pantry ceased operations and transitioned to provide in-home delivery of groceries to homebound individuals. Immobile elderly or disabled neighbors, who have no relational networks to provide a ride to a food pantry, are matched with faithful volunteers who bring groceries to their home. We continue to operate the only in-home grocery delivery program in Oklahoma City.
Full: Shift 2
The other major shift from the food pantry: neighborhood food cooperatives. These are community-based food distributions. Individuals within a neighborhood who qualify for food assistance sign an agreement to be a part of the cooperative. This agreement requires attendance and participation of its members, as well as a small monetary contribution. The money goes toward a project, decided upon by the cooperative members, that will benefit their community. Food cooperatives are run by the members themselves. Members pick up the food from a designated location and bring it to the neighborhood distribution site where they sort, organize, and distribute the food. The primary focus of the cooperative is building relationships, using food as a conduit for those in relationships to develop. Spero continues to host these coops, which are the only of their kind in Oklahoma City.
THE COMMON NETWORK
Spero is deeply committed to adapting to community strengths and needs through The Common. The Common Network developed as a way to increase our capacity to support members of the community with daily needs related to transportation, translation, job development, student support, and more.In order to continue to support the refugee community well, Spero began to develop off-site, neighborhood-based programs in specific parts of the city as members of the refugee community began to move farther out. This move was often the result of home ownership, a cause of great celebration! As the refugee community grew, a new focus on equipping and resourcing leaders in the community emerged. A large part of our role became brokering connections for our friends leading their community, helping them gain the tangible resources and relationships in the city they needed to thrive. Pastoral Care services were expanded as well.
WE ARE MOVED BY HOPE TO SEE OKLAHOMA CITY BECOME THE MOST WELCOMING CITY IN THE WORLD!
Recognizing that church/school partnerships are crucial to the life of communities, Spero began facilitating partnerships in the OKC area. Focused on supporting teachers, administrators, and staff, Spero developed processes and training materials that mobilize churches to provide tangible and relational support to educators. The beginning work of Rally provided Spero with some trials, errors, and learning curves that have given way to a more decentralized process. Churches across the country will now be equipped through out Rally Program Tool Kit, which is a step-by-step guide to supporting and resourcing local educators.
THE COMMON HOME
2018: The Common Home opens. As we listened to the resettled refugee community and researched the best ways to know, love, and value our new neighbors, a common theme emerged. With the help of many partners and advocates, The Common Home became a reality. By offering culturally-sensitive mental health services specifically for the resettled refugee community, we provide our neighbors a safe space to process and grow, and empower them and take pride in their unique cultural perspectives.
WE ARE MOVED BY HOPE TO WALK ALONGSIDE THE REFUGEE COMMUNITY WITH TOOLS AND RELATIONSHIPS THAT OFFER TRUE HEALING AND HOPE.
YOUR ROLE IS IMPORTANT IN SPERO'S STORY! WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO MAKE EACH PROJECT POSSIBLE. WILL YOU PARTNER WITH US IN 2019?
Learn more about The Spero Project