Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
– Matthew 25:40
The Grace Church Homeless Ministry is a long-standing traditional program in our outreach to the needy in the greater Washington, D.C. community. One Sunday a month, Grace parishioners come together to purchase groceries and supplies, and then prepare soup, sandwiches, and beverages for delivery to our brothers and sisters on the streets. Partnering with the Pennyworth team, we also distribute clothing, shoes, blankets and other much-needed items. We also partner with the Grace Episcopal Day School (GEDS) students, faculty and families, with each grade taking the lead one month during the school year to collect donations of socks, toiletries, fruits, snacks and other goodies. At the time of the Christmas holidays each year, we deliver the Angel Tree gifts that are generously provided by our fellow parishioners; we had over 100 sleeping bags and hoodies to hand out this past Christmas to very grateful friends on the streets. Most importantly, we bring a warm smile and friendly conversation to people who live on the streets – and provide a rewarding opportunity for our Graceful volunteers to connect with others.
Pretty much everyone from Grace can serve in this Ministry – from the youngest to the most senior. The Homeless Ministry is also an opportunity for middle and high school students of Grace Church to earn their Service Learning Hours required for graduation. It is gratifying to notice that although the Service hours may be the “draw”, the students truly enjoy this ministry and often bring along buddies from their school or neighborhood.
Changes made this year include the switch from Saturdays to Sundays, which has greatly increased the visibility and the number of volunteers for the food preparation and loading the van. We have also worked to modify our route downtown so we can help those who are in less crowded areas and on the streets “solo.” When possible, we include fresh fruit in our donations, which is very much appreciated.
Partnering with our Methodist Neighbors – About a year ago, we met with outreach volunteers and the clergy of the Silver Spring United Methodist Church just across Georgia avenue from Grace. They have a terrific variety of outreach ministries. We have been spreading information to Grace parishioners about the food bank operated every Saturday morning at their church. This is a two-hour volunteer opportunity (9 am to 11 am) to provide bags of groceries to needy families in our area. We urge Grace parishioners who are interested in joining this richly rewarding program to contact Rebecca Lent or Gerry Joria for more information. You can find out more at http://silverspringumc.org/mission-ministries/food/
Thanksgiving Food Bags – Thanks to the generosity of our Grace parishioners, we provided Holiday Food Bags and Giant gift cards to thirty-two needy families in our community just before Thanksgiving in 2015! This ministry to provide the groceries and cash cards for a traditional family meal was possible though the support of our Grace Sunday School children, their families, and so many members of our congregation.
Outlook for the future – A core group of parishioners is exploring how we might modify our outreach efforts for the homeless by seeking out opportunities to address the root causes of homelessness; we welcome additional participants in this discussion group. This will be a gradual transition, and one which we hope to do in collaboration with existing institutions, such as the Methodist church across the street, and Samaritan Ministries. We hope to ramp up our engagement with our Methodist church neighbors by helping them with a possible move and refurbishment of the food pantry, but most importantly, by providing more Grace parishioner volunteers. We will also explore whether the Smart Sacks program and Martha’s Table sandwich service provided by this same Methodist church could be moved to a different day of the week so that Grace could provide the service one day each month. We have also re-connected with Samaritan Ministries by identifying two Partner Parish Representatives (Christy Joria and Rebecca Lent) who will begin by participating in some Samaritan events early this year. The Samaritan Ministries program offers Grace parishioners opportunities for training and volunteering throughout the year to support our neediest fellow Washington area residents through housing and health care referrals, preparation of resumes and job applications, programs to address substance abuse, and training for high school degrees and technical skills. You can find out more at http://www.samaritanministry.org/
All dates are “Family Sundays,” and we conduct our work
after the 8:00 am and 10:30 am services.
The van heads downtown around noon. Hope you will join us!
Contact Rebecca Lent – 301-254-8930 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, February 14th
Sunday, March 20th
Sunday, May 1st
Sunday, May 29th