Trinity Bethlehem Soup Kitchen Report

January 2015
The Rev. Elizabeth Miller, Deacon
Marcie Lightwood, Social Worker

The Soup Kitchen at Trinity is a community – Trinity’s “second congregation.”

More than 150 people eat lunch together each weekday, served by a team of volunteers that number 55-75 over the course of a week.

Volunteers are essential to the work that the soup kitchen does. Each day there is a head cook and usually 5 – 7 others who chop vegetables, assemble salads, make dressings, prepare fruit salad, cook main dishes, make up plates, serve beverages, make coffee, carry trays, and wash dishes. The preparations begin at 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served noon to 1:00. Cleanup is usually done by 2:30 in the afternoon. That is a compact and fast-paced work day for a large handful of people, but it is not everything that happens.

Each day, a different volunteer drives to Fresh Market in the Promenade shops to pick up donated groceries. Some of it is used in the noontime meal, but most of it is taken home by our guests from tables set up and supervised by another set of volunteers. That assures us that our friends have nutritious food to eat at home as well as for lunch with us.

The Trinity guests can access non-food needs through the social worker. There are several volunteers who help with that aspect of ministry. Some help give out shampoo, OTC pain relievers, cough drops, razors and sanitary needs. Many businesses and congregations have set up drives to collect grooming products and winter accessories to benefit the poor and homeless people we serve.  Once a month, the women of St. Anne’s bring clean, sorted used clothing for guests.

It is by faith that we continue to operate. God is good, and we have a few generous donors: A few parishioners who give monthly and holiday gifts, one of our neighbors sends in $50 a month, and a former parishioner who lives out of state who joyfully gives several thousand dollars a year.  There are several angels from around the Diocese of Bethlehem and the rest of the community who regularly support the work of the soup kitchen. We hold an annual benefit concert, when talented community musicians give of their time and talent and an unnamed friend of the soup kitchen matches all ticket sales. The anonymous foundation continues to support us, although for a lesser amount. We applied to the United Way for funding in 2014 and although we were not selected, we were encouraged to apply again. Our finances are always cause for concern.

Second Harvest Food Bank has been carrying us by not billing us the usual shared maintenance fee and giving us as much of a share of the mixed grants they receive. Our volunteer cooks often have to await the arrival of Fresh Market produce so that they can make salads and fruit to serve. We are stretching every dollar in this way by not buying food, but using donations immediately. The soup kitchen is also in need of a new van. The old one is 15 years old and is no longer safe to transport heavy loads of food from the food bank and other donors. Please join Deacon Liz in her prayers that somehow we can obtain a safe and usable van before the end of this winter.

Partnerships with other organizations add to what we can offer our guests.  Students from Moravian College School of Nursing, Cedar Crest and Northampton Community College  serve guests in ways that contribute to their coursework, often providing educational workshops on health concerns. Moravian Academy students, our neighbors, donate apple pies in the fall, holiday goodies, and make bag lunches for our guests to have over weekends. Students from Northeast Middle School brought in nearly 200 blankets. The charity knitters groups and other knitters generously give many, many hats, mittens and scarves to keep folks warm. The brownie troop and the associated Girl Scouts have donated diapers needed by families with young children.

The ministry to our guests is one where success is difficult to measure.  Feeding 150-170 people a good meal every day is one measure. How we affect lives is another. We feel really good about Jeff, who last year had a three pack-a-day cigarette habit and weighed less than 100 pounds. We talked to him over the course of a few weeks when Deacon Liz and Marcie took him to doctors and hospitals. Because he knewthat we cared about him, Jeff cut down to six to eight cigarettes a day, and with the help of nutritional supplements we gave him, he has regained both his health and 35 pounds.

Leanne was evicted from her apartment, lost all of her ID, exhausted her available money, ran out of medications, stopped taking care of herself and began a descent into failing health and homelessness. Deacon Liz and Marcie Lightwood took Leanne to the hospital and doctor’s visits, visited her during a prolonged stay, helped get her into a programmed shelter, got her replacement identification cards, and help her manage her money. After a very rough two months, Leanne is back to functioning.

Sometimes the help we give our guests means we will not see them again. We have helped folks get boots for work so they could get good jobs and support themselves. As a result of those experiences, the social worker obtained several gift cards to Payless Shoe Stores so that we could quickly meet that need should it again arise. Many times we provided clothing vouchers so people could get the clothing they needed to work.

We have spent endless hours on the phone to advocate for client needs. We have helped folks get into apartments, get telephones, sign up for medical benefits and check on employment options.

And what is the best thing we do with our second congregation? We celebrate! Every holiday is celebrated with special food, entertainment and decorations. The Trinity Soup Kitchen is a community, a place where those without family and friends can come and be a part of something warm and special. It is about so much more than food.

 

 


Reading, Christ Church: Social Ministries

SPARK - Support for Parents and resources for kids
    -  includes healthy nutrition food pantry
    - Angel Tree at Christmas
    - Thanksgiving turkey dinner basket distribution
    - medical / dental screenings as available provided by local clinics
    - clothing and household goods support from our rummage room
 
Narcotics Anonymous meets at Christ Church 3 x /wk.
 
Various Committees serve each month at the local shelter:  Opportunity House
 
Episcopal Church Women - rummage sales and events - all money collected goes to mission projects
 
Berks Women in Crisis CampPeaceworks - volunteers and scholarships
 
SHARE:  Salvation Army Home Heating Oil Assistance Program
 
Kajo Keji collections and donations
 
Joyful Noise Collections each month for different mission needs
 
Donations of goods to Hope Rescue Mission
 
Vacation Bible school offered each year - open to the public
 
Kristallnacht - interfaith Community Service held at Christ Church
 
Labyrinth - ministry at Christ Church, and loaned to other churches as requested
 
Sacred Circle service of Unity with/for all indigenous peoples
 
Healing Ministry:  every Wednesday and the 3rd Sun of each Month
 
Prayer Group Ministry
 
Bible Study and Holy Eucharist at a local Assisted Living Facility
 
Thurs. Morning laity-led Morning Prayer
 
Sponsored engineering congregants to rebuild Haiti and restore clean water following disaster
 
Inner city kids to Wildwood, NJ for a week-end at the beach in conjunction with St. Simeon by the Sea Episcopal Church

Allentown/Bethlehem, St. Andrew's: Social Ministries

---Homeless Overnight Ministry Fridays from December to the end of March (providing supper, overnight sleeping and breakfast for 20-38 men)

---Home and Founding member of the Pennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry (first and third Wednesdays of each month) and part of Second Harvest network.

---Community Vegetable Garden

---Provide Evening Meal once a month at Victory House a place for homeless vets in Bethlehem

---CROP Walk (we always have one of the largest groups raising money for hunger programs in the area)

---Periodic "hostel" for out-of-state and diocesan youth groups


Easton, Trinity: Social Ministries

Direct Service:
ARK Soup Kitchen-- every Saturday we serve 60-80 people (Holidays we serve more) since 1996.

Health Ministry - Parish nurses and more. We provide health ministry, basic screening, teaching and pastoral support to both parish members and to Soup Kitchen guests.

Disaster Response: We coordinate with local government and agencies and provide emergency cold-weather shelter, shelter in place or overnight shelter with food and pastoral support in our parish hall and using our new kitchen.

Our parish also supports other agencies in Easton and the Lehigh Valley
Meals on Wheels
Safe Harbor (a homeless shelter) lunch
Third Street Alliance (a shelter and program agency for women)
ProJeCt of Easton (an interfaith direct service agency)
Salvation Army (tutoring, emergency services, work with the incarcerated)
Northampton County Jail (pastoral visiting coordinated by Lehigh County Council of Churches)

Dreams that grants could help make happen:
Support group for formerly incarcerated men over 55 years old, a population high at risk for health issues, joblessness and homelessness.

A street minister (a deacon, a social worker, or ??) to work with the street, SRO hotel population, and working poor who eat in our soup kitchen on navigating what's left of the social safety net, getting mental health and spiritual support.

Health clinic through ARK or through ProJeCt to fill direct care and access gaps for the poor.


Wilkes-Barre, St. Stephen's: Social MInistries

Dental Clinic ;
  free dental clinic appointment only 570-235-5642
  services include: cleanings, x-rays, extractions and fillings

Medical Clinic;
   free Medical clinic , appointment only 570-793-4361
   the clinic also periodically conducts health screenings and educational workshops. part of the clinic is a dispensary for common non-narcotic prescriptions.

Reach @ St Stephens
    Food Pantry and Clothing Closet and.....
    Food Pantry hours are 12:00 pm - 3:00pm daily (unless church is closed)  and is supported by parishioners, Weinberg Food Bank and Food Drives by local agencies including (but not limited to) Kings College campus, Riverside Cafe', Holy Cross Episcopal Church, and serves 200 families per month
     Clothing Closet hours are Tuesday 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM and Wednesday 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM. Supported by donations only from parishioners, community and other parishes clothes are free of charge and are clean and only slightly(gently) worn. Although I have put out "ripped" jeans since they are an existing trend. Families and individuals may access the clothing closet twice a month. Nearly two hundred families utilize our facility.
      the AND ......  Bed Rolls for homeless men and women are available by request and are supplied by "My Brothers Keeper" Jim and Flo Wheatly of Hop Bottom. (we also collect fabric for them to use to make these "ugly quilts")
           for individuals and families just getting a new apartment and need "starting" housewares: plates, cups, mugs, sheets and towels are available by request.
            Mother Teresa's Haven, a mens shelter managed by Catholic Social Services, is housed, in the former drop in center, on a rotation basis with other churches.
             Toys for Tots/Teens - for the past two years St Stephens has been a distribution center for families in need of toys for their children up to age 14 (and occasionally older).  The number of children receiving toys this past year was 472.

Forest City, Christ Church social ministries

[From Jack DeMark]

Here is a list of our mission activities at Christ Church, Forest City.
 
Partner with St Pauls Church Montrose in Bountiful Blessings (provide Easter dinner groceries to low income households),
 
Partner with Weinberg Regional Food Bank and the Forest City Area Emergency Services for once-per-month food pantry for people in Susquehanna, Wayne & Lackawanna counties,
 
Partner with American Legion Post 154 in Montrose for an annual winter coat distribution for anyone in need. A year-long coat drive is conducted by Christ Church in conjunction with this event.

Christ Church is home to three 12 step groups, who hold 6 meetings per week.
 
Hold 4 annual all-u-can eat dinners at low charge.
 
Hold annual blessing of pets (and any properly restrained animals upon request).
 
That's all folks.  (Not!)
Jack


West Pittston, Trinity: Social Ministries

[From John Major, rector]

Trinity Episcopal Church of West Pittston strives to seek and embrace ministries that allow us to live out our mission statement, “Working and praying together to live and build holy community.”

Many of our efforts fall under the umbrella of our “Good Neighbor Ministries,” which include long-standing and ongoing projects aimed at filling unmet needs as we identify them in our community.  These include a parishioner-supported food pantry that provides emergency assistance to dozens of families each year, and a Feed a Friend program that provides homemade frozen meals to homebound neighbors and to those coping with illness or family emergency.  This program is extended to provide rides and other assistance to these neighbors when needed.  Trinity West Pittston also operates a prayer network that is publicized in the weekly paper and open to the public, where people can submit prayer requests by phone or mail and members of the congregation will pray for them.

For the past four years, Trinity has also offered a ministry called MUSICare to young families in the area.  Through the internationally known Music Together program, we bring young families together for a “mommy & me” type class that helps children from birth through age five learn to appreciate and enjoy music, helps parents learn how to incorporate music into their everyday family activities, and provides an opportunity for these young parents to get together for conversation and fellowship.  Through free Music Together demonstrations held in venues such as bookstores, libraries, schools and mothers’ groups, Trinity reaches out to the community at large and offers this fun, enriching experience to families throughout the region.  This ministry recently spawned another ministry, a toy swap, which allows young families a place to share slightly used toys and provides a source of gently used and sometimes new toys that Trinity can share with others in need in the community.

Trinity also participates in shared and regional ministry, including providing toiletries and other items for use by the homeless program at Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton and regular participation in a yearly evangelism program called Project Presence, that brings all the Luzerne County Episcopal churches together to sponsor a booth at the county fair, where balloons, goodies and literature are handed out to create a positive experience with our church for fairgoers.  In the interest of sustaining the Episcopal presence in our community, Trinity has also entered into agreements with other regional parishes over the last four years in which our rector also served as either a rector or priest in charge at these other parishes, strengthening both parishes and enabling both to have pastoral leadership that guides them to the Gospel ministry of service.

In addition to these ongoing ministries, in the aftermath of a flood in September 2011 that affected more than one third of West Pittston and large sections of nearby towns, Trinity initiated a new ministry called FLOODCare.  This ministry to our flooded neighbors has included hands-on assistance, distribution of gift cards, flood relief items and household goods, opportunities for pastoral care, and ongoing reminders that Trinity West Pittston is ready and available to assist in their recovery for as long as it takes.  We continue to provide help and goods to a number of families who are still not back in their home.
Trinity’s FLOODCare ministry inspired a new regional ministry in disaster preparedness and response.  Housed in a closed Episcopal Church in the geographic center of flood-prone Luzerne County and initially funded by a combination of diocesan funds and grants as well as grants from Episcopal Relief & Development, Episcopal Appalachian Ministries, St. George’s Regional Disaster Recovery & Outreach Center will provide a location to store and distribute disaster supplies, provide shelter for those affected by disasters and those who come to help them, and serve as a site to coordinate disaster preparedness and training throughout the region.  It will also include a feeding program that will provide a needed service in an underserved community afflicted with nearly twice the state level of poverty.  Trinity’s leadership and parishioners continue to support this ministry as part of our own community outreach, mission and ministry.
 
The Rev. John Major
Rector
Trinity Episcopal Church of West Pittston
 
Priest-in-Charge
Saint Clement and Saint Peter Church of Wilkes-Barre
 
Director
The Children’s MUSICare Project featuring Music Together
Trinity Episcopal Church of West Pittston
 
Diocese of Bethlehem Episcopal Relief and Development Representative
 
Director of Saint George’s Regional Disaster Recovery and Outreach Center , Nanticoke, Luzerne County, PA
 
Member of Diocesan Council, Diocese of Bethlehem


Hellertown, St. George's: Social Ministries

[From H. Jonathan Mayo, rector]

- serves meals at Victory House regularly throughout the year

- participates in Heifer project

- regular donations to local foodbank, including food, Outreach money, stuffed bears during Lent

- donate school supplies to Sheridan Elementary School, Allentown

- hats, mittens and gloves for New Jerusalem food bank

- financial support of Hellertown Area Ministerium, including their mission trips

- supported Raudenbush mission to Africa


In Nanticoke: Regional day of service and prayer a success

By Janine Ungvarsky, Diocesan ERD Development Project Manager

Dear Friends, 

Forty years ago this past Saturday, like thousands of others I was awakened in the predawn darkness to the sound of blaring sirens and urgent warnings to evacuate immediately.  It was June 23, 1972—the day Hurricane Agnes sent the Susquehanna River on a rampage that ravaged the Wyoming Valley.  On that day, life changed forever for over 200,000 local residents, none of whom were prepared for the extent of the devastation and the clean up task before them. 

Last Saturday, June 23, 2012, I once again awoke in the predawn darkness, this time to a blaring alarm.  Instead of the fear and confusion that followed on that early morning 40 years ago, this time I was filled with hope and anticipation.  It was our first regional work day at the newly reborn St. George’s Disaster Recovery & Outreach Center, and I was eager to see what the response would be to our call for help and how far we would get in our efforts to be ready to assist in disasters yet to come.   

Father John Major and I arrived at the center at around 6:15 a.m. to prepare for the volunteers we were expecting around 7 a.m.  We didn’t have long to wait.  Sue Ellen Andreas came in with tools in hand at around 6:45 and promptly set to work loading piles of brush from the overgrown parking lot into the dumpster.  Later, Sue Ellen would begin the hard and dusty work of sanding the elevated wooden platform where the altar will stand in the worship area, preparing the formerly carpeted surface for staining and refinishing. 

The volunteers came in quick succession after that.  Deacon Liz Miller and her husband, Terry, spent the day painting four large closets in the community center, creating bright, clean storage areas for non-perishable foods and clean-up supplies.  Deacon Marion Meiss took on the yard sale, setting up displays of various odds and ends from St. George’s former life to be sold to the dozens of area residents who stopped by.  Proceeds from the yard sale will be used to purchase supplies for the center.  Deacon Marion’s husband, George, was also on hand helping to load the dumpster and taking on some repairs to water damaged walls. 

Father Charlie Warwick put his back into the work, providing muscle to load the dumpster and taking on several tedious but very necessary repair tasks.  Father Charlie also helped Trinity West Pittston Senior Warden Rick Logan dismantle a pew, which he later helped Rick take to his home workshop.  There, Rick will put his carpentry skills to work refashioning the pew into an altar and cross to be used in St. George’s worship area. 

Trinity West Pittston Sunday School teacher Annie Sonday also arrived with some of the older students from her class.  Annie, along with Daria and Lara Whyne, Erica Kline and Shane Sonday were all over the center, helping with everything from loading the dumpster to working the yard sale to pulling up floor tacks to cleaning pews and windows. They even used sidewalk chalk to create artistic signs directing yard sale customers from the outside portion of the sale to the inside tables.  Volunteers and visitors alike commented on the kids’ great attitudes and dedication to their tasks. 

Father John and I planned the day as a regional day of Episcopal service and prayer, but it took an ecumenical turn when Dale Zmeyeski, a member of neighboring St. John’s Lutheran Church, stopped by to shop at the yard sale and stayed to help scrape peeling paint in the narthex.  The good folks from St. John’s and the local Lutheran churches have been working with members of the diocesan Disaster Recovery and Community Resiliency Committee to plan ways to help those affected by the September 2011 flooding and prepare to help in the future as well. 

After five hours of steady, hard work, the volunteers took a break and Father Charlie led the group in a Noon Prayer service that included prayers for those affected by the Agnes Flood in 1972 and the September 2011 flooding, as well as those who are working to be ready to help in disasters yet to come.  And, while the crew had steady access all morning to a supply of homemade baked goods donated by Annie Sonday, and Trinity West Pittston parishioners Helen Biles and Charise and Bill O’Konski, they still found room for a slice or two of pizza and some fellowship in what will eventually be the center’s office, before returning to work for another few hours. 

It wasn’t planned as part of the event, but throughout the day Father John and I found that we had the opportunity to welcome some old and new friends into St. George’s.  A number of former parishioners and some neighbors stopped by to shop the yard sale and see what was going on, and many shared memories of the dinners and other events held there in the past.  Representatives of several other local churches and the Nanticoke Historical Society also stopped by to chat and offer their assistance in various ways.  All expressed happiness that the building is experiencing new life to serve in times of disaster. 

At the end of the day, a community room that had been filled with a combination of debris and yard sale treasures was all but empty, a 30 yard dumpster was full, work was well underway on several reconstruction projects in the narthex and worship area, and fresh paint was on the walls in several areas.   

It was reminiscent of the days following the 1972 and 2011 floods, when people came together and rolled up their sleeves to help those whose homes were affected – efforts that are still ongoing in West Pittston and several other area communities that will be among the first to benefit from this new center.  The difference on Saturday was that the work done by the volunteer crew that day won’t just help those affected by one disaster but by any number of disasters in the years to come. 

It might seem a little pessimistic to be so focused on planning for future disasters, but a quick glance at this week’s news shows us they are an inevitable part of life, with thousands across the US fleeing from both floodwaters and firestorms.  The past has shown that no matter what the experts do to try to prevent or minimize disasters, they will come anyway.  The floodwaters of Hurricane Agnes topped the levees built to protect from water levels reached by the destructive flood of 1936; the newer levees built to protect against Agnes-level flooding barely protected Wilkes-Barre and Kingston last September from the same fate they suffered in 1972, and also had the unfortunate side effect of causing floodwaters to back up and reach record levels in communities upriver from the cities, such as West Pittston, Harding, Plains and Duryea. 

If we can’t escape the disasters, we can at least be prepared to help those affected by them.  The regional Episcopal Church in the disaster-prone Luzerne County area took a giant step forward towards that preparedness on Saturday, the anniversary of a flood that still ranks as one of the ten worst disasters in US history.  I woke that day filled with hope and anticipation of what could be accomplished, and the day certainly lived up to those expectations.  It was truly a joy to watch people of different ages and abilities working shoulder to shoulder to help prepare St. George’s to serve our neighbors when the need arises, and for me personally, it added some wonderfully positive memories to a day that for 40 years has meant only recollections of sadness and loss.  Thank you to all who helped by giving of your time and talents to help move this project forward.  Your help was very much needed and Father John and I deeply appreciate your assistance and your presence that day. 

More work days will be planned, but if you want to help, you don’t need to wait for a scheduled work day.  Some volunteers have already made arrangements to come up at times convenient to them to work on projects at St. George’s, including Sue Ellen Andreas, who is planning on making the trek from Jim Thorpe several times over the next few weeks to continue working on the worship space, and a mason who will be coming up to fix some cracks in the concrete and brick front of the church.  Your help is needed and welcome, whether that help comes in the form of on-site work or organizing collections of supplies that will be needed in disasters (more on that to come soon).  Please come join us and put your faith to work.  And whether you are able to help us physically or not, please keep our efforts and our neighbors still struggling to recover from the September floods in your prayers.

[Pics here]

Faithfully, 

Janine Ungvarsky
Diocesan Episcopal Relief & Development Project Manager


Shelters at Cathedral and St. Andrew's seek volunteers

From Craig Updegrove
St. Andrew's, Allentown/Bethlehem
Jan. 20, 2012

For the fourth straight year, Bethlehem area places of worship including a couple Episcopal churches (Cathedral Church of the Nativity and St. Andrew's) are sheltering the area homeless at night. This winter season, the mission started in the beginning of December and runs until the end of March.This week we have seen a large increase of new guests. Last night we housed 34 people! If previous years were any indication, as the winter progresses, these numbers will continue to grow. Through the New Hope campaign funding, we have been able to hire 2 part time coordinators to help coordinate each site. However, many of these sites could use additional help.

Each site, at a minimum, require the following for each night they house the homeless:
Cooks and or servers- Each site will feed dinner to about 15-30 people (this includes volunteers). Usually a site will have at least two people cook and serve. Also, each site/volunteers will supply the dinner, drinks, dessert, and paper products for each meal.
Overnight volunteers- 2-3 volunteers at each site spend the night at the place of worship  to oversee everything. Additional cooks/ servers- Each site serves breakfast. Some just serve cold cereal, while others provide a hot breakfast. Again this usually takes about two people.

Many of these  places of worship  have additional volunteers that will come and socialize with the guests. Also, some sites have volunteers to come in and clean-up in the morning. In addition to volunteers at the churches, we also transport to some sites. A handful of the places of worship  that shelter are not within walking distance to the Southside (where the homeless are during the day). We try to have 2-3 drivers in the evenings and 2-3 drivers in the mornings to transport the homeless to and fro the places of worship .

I encourage you to help at least once during this season. This is a transformational mission that has affected me more than you can imagine. It will do the same for you. Please take this opportunity to help the homeless. Please discern this email while you are eating a hearty soup or snuggled up in your warm bed and imagine not having it. At the very least, as a Christian, isn't this what we are called to do? Help the people that can't help themselves.

If you would like to volunteer, I've attached a flyer with schedule and contact information. Also the following link will allow you to sign-up to drive the homeless:

Sign up genius for transportation volunteers


Please feel to contact Brian Gordon from Nativity @ cell 610-463-5988 if you would like to drive.

If you have any additional questions about the mission, please feel free to call me at 484-892-1589.

Thanks,
Craig Updegrove

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Pet food collection at Redeemer Sayre (UPDATED 21 September)

RedeemerSayre AnimalFood Collection2
[From JoAnn Lumley, Outreach Coordinator] The Church of the Redeemer with Boy Scout Troop 4019 started to collect supplies for the Bradford County ASPCA in Ulster on Wednesday. If you will pardon the pun, they are flooded with displaced pets and are in need of cat litter, kitten chow, canned and dried cat food, canned and dried dog food and cleaning supplies. The attached photo was taken yesterday [Wednesday, Sept. 14]. Today we sent out pet food with the Athens FD for distribution for pets still at home. We will also be able to share with additional shelters. The response has been incredible and we are meeting many neighbors.The drive continues tomorrow (Friday) from 8AM to 5PM and Saturday from 8AM to Noon.

Here's the scoop of what was collected:

In three and a half days and with a minimum of effort we collected: 501.21 lbs of dry cat food, 44.5 lbs of kitten food, 48 pouches and 259 cans of moist cat food (for the senior felines) and 407 pounds of cat litter.  For our canine friends we received 650.5 lbs of the requested Pedigree dry food,  590.5 pounds of other brand dog food,  243 cans of Pedigree moist food, 40 lbs of dog treats, 15 gallons of bleach, bags of bedding and monetary donations of $434.02.  Thank you to all who helped to make this such a amazing success.

RedeemerSayre AnimalFood Collection3At noon on Saturday Mother Andrea Baldyga and Scout leader John Johnson and the Boy Scouts from troop number 4019 helped to truck the bulk of the food to the Bradford County ASPCA and to Stray Haven Humane Society. The smaller bags of food were taken to the Athens Fire Department to be shared with local friends and family sheltering displaced pets.


Grace Church and Grace House residents get to know each other

By Beth Reed, Priest-in-Charge, Grace, Allentown

Yesterday [Sunday, August 14] was a joy at Fifth and Linden in downtown Allentown. We welcomed three of our six new neighbors from Grace House at coffee hour, and then our neighbors showed us their home. At least 20 parishioners took the opportunity to see the first floor of Grace House, with its common kitchen and living room, and two residents very graciously showed us their bedrooms. We took a solid next step in our relationship with our neighbors, and I look forward to how our relationships will develop.
 
Grace House is a partnership of New Bethany Ministries, the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, and Grace Episcopal Church. Six previously chronically homeless men now live in a renovated building that formerly housed the Grace Church Sunday school and the parish’s AIDS Outreach ministry.
 


A New Day for St Mary's Reading: Angel Food Ministries

In response to current economic conditions and lengthy unemployment lines, St. Mary's Church has realized there is a great need in the city of Reading for some kind of food ministry benefiting all members of the community. Angel Food Ministries is one example of a way to provide quality, affordable food, which is part of the core of Christian mission.

Angel Food provides individuals and families with fresh, brand name food for a fraction of the retail price. By purchasing food in bulk, directly from some of the top suppliers in the country, food is discounted by up to 50 percent of retail. Angel Food Ministries is now offering a new selection of prepackaged boxes with more protein items. They contain top quality food staples from every food group, including chicken or beef, milk, eggs, vegetables and fruits. Each of the regular boxes of food feeds a family of four for about one week or a single individual for almost a month. The menu selections vary each month, and consist of both fresh and frozen items, saving Americans money with no sacrifice to quality.

Angel Food Ministries’ service is available to anyone wanting to stretch their food dollars. There are no income requirements or program qualifications. We accept Food Stamps. There are no limits to the quantity of boxes per individual, nor are there any applications or qualifications for eligibility.

Here’s a link for the August menu: http://www.angelfoodministries.com/menus/menu_2011-08_en.asp


Order  by calling Scott Chambers at: 484-333-8877 at the following times:
     August 10th from 5pm – 7:30pm
     August 13th from 9am – 12 noon
     August 17th from 5pm – 7:30pm
     August 20th from 9am – 12 noon
 
On August 27th we will pick up the boxes at a central location at 6:30 a.m. Ordered boxes will then be available for pick up at St. Mary’s Church, 100 W. Windsor St., Reading, PA 19601 on Saturday, August 27th beginning between 8:00-8:30am. Some boxes will be VERY frozen and can go about 6 hours without refrigeration.

Anyone who wishes to learn more may go to St. Mary's website and click on the Angel Food Ministry tab. You may also call Scott Chambers directly at 484-333-8877.


Diocesan Life for July/August 2011

 

You can download the .pdf version here as well: Download July-August2011_DiocesanLife_SMALL


Weed and Seed needs your help

[From Bob House, parish administrator, Grace Allentown]

I have mentioned a couple of times during our biddings that the state and federal budget cuts have eliminated the funding of the Weed and Seed Program. This might be penny wise but it is pound foolish. The job counselor program alone, which we have sponsored since 2006, has brought in over 7 million dollars during that period to the local economy at a cost of only $35,000 per year. The entire W & S budget for all 17 locations in PA is only $435,000. The current state budget seems to be designed to destroy the safety net supporting poor people in our state.
 
You can be instrumental in the effort to restore these funds. Last week around 100 people went to Harrisburg for the “Day on the Hill” event to meet with various legislators. State Weed and Seed sites will continue sending letters, visiting legislators and basically doing what they can to advocate on behalf of returning Weed and Seed to the budget. What can you do? Send the letter shown below.
Download a letter you can send to our representatives and key members of the legislatures. Download a list of legislators to whom you might send the letter.
 
Here's a factoid you can include in your letter (should you choose to customize it) - according to Laura Accetta, the Easton Weed and Seed Coordinator, State Senator Lisa Boscola said PA prisoners are allowed 10 stamps per month. If we reduced that to 5 or 6 stamps, we would save $2 million dollars! That would pay for our program for about four years.
 
You can either send this as a letter by printing it out and mailing it or you can “cut and paste” and send it as an email. The important thing is that you send it. These representatives pay attention especially if a significant number of communications are received.
 
Thousands of poor people all over our state need your help. Many of those folks are within walking distance of our church. Please take fifteen minutes and send a letter or an email.

Robert S. House
Parish Administrator
Grace Episcopal Church
108 N. Fifth Street
Allentown, PA 18102
610-435-0782 – Office
610-360-1476 – Cell
bob.house@graceallentown.org


Social Ministries now accepting grant requests from New Hope Campaign

[From the Social Ministries Committee]

17 May 2011

Dear Partners in Ministry,

The Social Ministries Committee is now ready to receive and consider requests for disbursements from the New Hope Campaign.  The total amount we are able to grant for the 2011-12 calendar year is $100,000.  Therefore, we are inviting Letters of Intent from parishes and Episcopal related organizations within the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem.  The Deadline for Letters of Intent is 15 July 2011.

The Letter of Intent should contain:

  • The Mission Statement of the parish/organization
  • A summary of the proposal including a brief project description
  • An outline of the focus and scope (who will be served?)
  • Amount to be requested from the SMC (one time or multi-year request)
  • Partner churches, agencies, organizations, etc., if any
  • Project start date
  • Name, e-mail and day and evening telephone number of contact person(s).

Letters of Intent should be sent to The Rev’d Daniel C. Gunn, St. Stephen’s Pro-cathedral, 35 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA  18701 or emailed to dgunn@ststephenswb.org with “Social Ministry Application” in the subject line.

A member of the Social Ministries Committee will be in contact soon thereafter.  These Letters are preliminary proposals and will be considered in the order in which they are received.  Applications will be sent after the initial contact.

In peace,

The Rev’d Daniel C. Gunn, Chair


Six chronically homeless persons will live next to Grace Episcopal Church in Allentown

By Libby House and Bill Lewellis

Grace House2 On April 20, Grace House at 112 North Fifth Street, Allentown, a newly renovated three-story brick and stucco property next to Grace Episcopal Church, will welcome its first homeless residents.

The creation and development of a group home to provide permanent housing in apartments for six chronically homeless persons began a few years ago with a conversation between Robert Wilkins, president of the board of New Bethany Ministries from 1998 to 2010, and Elizabeth House, senior warden of Grace Church.

It was the brain child of Wilkins, House, William Kuntze, former executive director of New Bethany and Patrick Malloy,  former rector of Grace Episcopal Church. Their initiative received enthusiastic moral support as well as financial commitment from Bethlehem Diocese Bishop Paul V. Marshall.

Grace House Funding for Grace House came from a wide variety of sources. Grace Church donated to New Bethany Ministries half the value of the property which for nearly 15 years had served as the church's headquarters for its former AiDS Outreach Ministry that closed in December 2007 when federal and state funding dried up. The $500,000 costs for renovating the facility were paid for by a $250,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank, Pittsburgh, through KNBT grants from Lehigh County and the City of Allentown, and additional money generously provided by Episcopal Ministries of the Diocese of Bethlehem, the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Senator Pat Brown, Representative Jennifer Mann, The Century Fund, and individual donors.

The new group home will become part of the City of Allentown's First Lady's Commission to End Chronic Homelessness in 10 years. The six individuals who will gain the safety and stability of a permanent residence through this project represent 10 percent of those described as chronically homeless in Allentown in 2010.

Grace House will be a joint project of New Bethany Ministries of Bethlehem, sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem and community operated, and Grace Allentown, a parish of the Diocese of Bethlehem. The facility's location in downtown Allentown will allow New Bethany Ministries, which has been working to address the needs of homeless people and others on the margins of our society, primarily in Bethlehem, for 25 years, to expand its outreach. it will also allow the Grace Church community to continue to develop and increase its mission and ministry to the people of the inner city neighborhoods of Allentown, where it already provides strategic services to the poor.

in addition to New Bethany and Grace Church, the Lehigh County Conference of Churches will play a crucial role in supporting and supervising the residents who will live in the facility by providing rent subsidies and social services. The organization will select the individuals who are to live in the group home and will assign a caseworker to help see that those living in Grace House will have the assistance they need to help them become independently functioning and contributing members of the community. They will assist with access to public benefit funding, subsidized meals, clothing services, referrals for medical and mental health treatment, and job skills training.
Grace Episcopal Church houses several ministries that will also provide additional support for the group home residents, such as supplemental groceries through its food pantry, Grace Community Foundation which provides supplemental food in a respectful manner to some 6,000 ethnically, religiously and racially diverse persons in need every year; access to a job placement counselor through the City's Weed and Seed Program; a GED program for those who dropped out of school who wish to work to earn their diplomas; the iMPACT juvenile offender program; services from paralegals from North Penn Legal Services; and blood pressure screenings. The church hopes that the tenants may wish to become part of the Grace Church community and will benefit from the possibilities that can be derived from relationships offered there.

Once described at a national conference because of its outreach ministries as the largest small church in the United States, Grace Church also owns Grace Montessori School, which provides scholarships to one-third of its diverse student body of more than 100 in a newly built, state-of-the-art facility.
 
Episcopal Ministries of the Diocese of Bethlehem, Inc., dba New Bethany Ministries, is an agency of the Diocese of Bethlehem and as such is a church-sponsored, non-profit corporation whose purpose is to organize and operate housing and social ministries with related services in the geographic area of the Diocese of Bethlehem for the care and relief of the needy, poor, displaced and other distressed persons.
 
With its long history and experience in battling homelessness, New Bethany Ministries brings compassion and expertise to the Grace House initiative at a level that cannot be overstated. This ministry of The Episcopal Church summons the talents of approximately 20 employees and 600 volunteers to serve the needs of the homeless, the hungry, the mentally ill, and the poor. In addition to managing its many shelters, homes, and apartments and providing much needed social services, the agency also serves breakfast and lunch daily in its hospitality center in South Bethlehem and offers emergency food pantry services. it is hoped that the unique combination of experience, expertise, services, proximity, and common mission of these three social justice power houses, New Bethany Ministries, Grace Church, and LCCC, will serve as a model for faith-based groups wishing to work together to address the problems of the most desperate of individuals living in our society, making a permanent difference in their lives that will restore them to dignity and independence.

New Bethany's 25-year history has included one deep valley. It was buried in debt in 1998. Low morale had spread through the staff as its executive director and two executive board members resigned. The staff had to be cut from 16 to 10. The organization was close to going out of business. That’s when Wilkins, retired senior vice president of finance for Bethlehem Steel and former Bethlehem city administrator took a leave of absence from his business to serve as interim executive director during New Bethany’s crisis when the ministry was having a hard time finding the $1,000 a day in donations (half the budget) it takes to operate its shelters, subsidized housing and meal programs. That's when the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, New Bethany’s 1983 founder, stepped in.

The Diocese of Bethlehem provided New Bethany the security for a loan and lent the charity $200,000 without interest. Bishop Paul Marshall convened a “Blue Ribbon” panel of leaders in business, social service, church and philanthropic fields to explore the problems and challenges facing New Bethany. The panel met during the last quarter of 1998 and offered a series of recommendations to the New Bethany board. By 2001, the charity cut its annual spending plan by $100,000. It got back up to a full staff of 16. It began offering just as many services as before its financial fall.

[Mrs. Elizabeth "Libby" House is senior warden of Grace Episcopal Church, Allentown, and director of the Grace Montessori School. Canon Bill Lewellis, now retired, served for nearly 25 years as communication minister for the Diocese of Bethlehem.]

Download: (1) An outline of the origin of New Bethany Ministries, by Bill Lewellis, (2) New Bethany's Two-Year Recovery, by Bill Lewellis, Diocesan Life, Dec. 2001, (3) Remarks by Beth Reed at Grace House open house, 4/7/11.

Download NBM.Outline of Origins

Download NBM’s Two-Year Recovery.Lewellis

Download NBM.GraceHouse.Holy Ground

 


Souper Bowl of Caring at St. Brigid's Nazareth

St. Brigid's

The youth of St. Brigid's Episcopal Church in Nazareth collected $249.00 for the "Souper Bowl of Caring" on Feb. 6. and donated it to the Nazareth Area Food Bank. They are pictured here presenting the check to Ann Power a member of St. Brigid's and the Recording Secretary for the food bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Temporary shelter for the homeless in Bethlehem churches

To: Lehigh Valley Episcopal Churches
From: Craig Updegrove, St. Andrew's

As you may be aware, several years ago, Bethlehem Area Churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This letter is to make you aware that this system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31.

Every night, a host site or two will provide this mission service to the homeless. We not only provide shelter, but we also give them a warm dinner, companionship, play games with them, and watch movies with them. This mission has transformed each congregation and person involved.

To help continue this mission, I ask for your help. On average, a church needs around eight volunteers each night to execute this mission effectively. This puts a lot of volunteer strain on each congregation. I would like to ask if anyone from your congregation would like to assist any of these churches. Volunteer hours are readily available.

Volunteer opportunities vary. We have people that will just cook the meal, serve the meal, stay overnight, serve breakfast, cleanup in the morning, or just sit and talk to our guests. This is truly a transformational mission and is needed by you to help in Bethlehem.

If you would like to help in other ways, you could donate personal care items, clothing, food, or cash donations to help these congregations to defray some of these costs.

If you or anyone in your congregation are interested in volunteering, please contact Craig Updegrove at 484-892-1589 for more details.

*****************
On a related matter, see Community must respond to deaths of homeless, an op-ed in The Morning Call, December 17, by Gary Millspaugh, executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.

*****************
Background on the ministry of Bethlehem churches to the homeless:
2009
Jan. 13-19: Still no room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 19: Lehigh Valley Episcopal churches help homeless during cold snap
Feb. 5: Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem

2010
Jan. 13: Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold
March 9: Express-Times editorial

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