Here are just a few stories of hope, illustrating the Kingdom Work our partner ministries are celebrating.
Each story represents the ministry priorities of ECSF’s funding guidelines.
Holy Trinity, Bellaire
Motivational Morning Munchies
Edited from submissions by Bri Voight
The Sunday School teachers of Holy Trinity started Motivational Morning Munchies nearly a decade ago as a way to ensure that one particular family of children went home with full bellies every Sunday morning. The littlest of this particular family wanted to take his hotdog bun home with him so that the next time he was hungry he would have food to eat. Our breakfast program has changed since that beginning. While we still ensure that our children have a hearty and nutritious meal every week, it has now become more about the fellowship than the food. Its importance now includes giving our kids the time to interact with each other in a safe environment. The Pop Tarts and milk have become the backdrop for the children having a place of their own, discussing a wide variety of topics—ranging from which high school team will win the Friday night game to favorite Pop Tart flavors. We never know what topics will come out of a Munchies Meeting. One such Sunday morning, our children’s Faith cookies were born. Another morning our kids decided to embark on our Foster Care Blanket project.
…and one Sunday morning after breakfast one of the kids said, ‘We need to talk.’ Apparently on that particular Sunday morning, as the kids were arguing over Pop Tarts and football teams, the topic had strayed into more important territory: one teen shared that he was thinking about how easy it would be to kill himself. I truly believe that Motivational Morning Munchies is important, not only for the food we give to our kid’s bellies, but also for the fellowship that we give to their hearts. Because of our breakfast program and the fellowship that is shared amongst our children, we were able to get this particular teen the help he needed.
Motivational Morning Munchies started as a breakfast program, but it now feeds the soul as well as the belly.
Third Saturday Community Meal
Holy Trinity’s free community meal is a way to share fellowship with our community members around us whom we may not see on a regular basis. We serve anyone who needs a meal, no matter who they are. Our meal is shared by word of mouth mostly, and if they grace our door with their presence, we gladly serve them. But one Saturday, I remember news of the dinner spreading a different way: nose to empty bellies.
That particular day, three children walked in, the littlest about three and the oldest maybe eight. These neighbor children were playing outside and smelled the dinner we were preparing, which we begin serving at three in the afternoon. They hadn’t eaten that day at all, and of course were hungry. ‘We had cereal for supper,’ the elder girl told us. ‘Mommy gave us the last of it yesterday.’
After feeding the girls a hot meal, we loaded some bags with some bread, fruits, and veggies that we had to give out and walked them home their frantic mother who had been looking for them. She is single and had been laid off from her job. There was no food in the house. Deciding we could do more, we made a Kroger’s run for additional items such as milk, canned goods, meat, and other staples then delivered them to our new friends up the street.
Without our dinner, we most likely never would have met those three little girls, never would have been able to help that young family. Because they wandered into our hall, we were able not only to get them food that day, but to put them in contact with resources to help them in the future.
Teach a man to fish, as that old saying goes…
…plant that tiny mustard seed, and only God knows how far reaching it will spread.
Church of the Good Samaritan, Amelia
Community Supper & Emergency Pantry
Edited from submissions by Dena Morris
Pictured are Milford’s Texas Roadhouse manager, one of our members and his fiancé, who died suddenly in October.
We have been blessed that our local Kroger store has consistently given us gift cards and occasional discounts on merchandise since late 2013; and members of a neighboring Roman Catholic church (St. Bernadette’s, mostly via St. Vincent DePaul) began to make contributions in late 2015. As we began the second half of 2017, members of our small congregation became increasingly aware of the fact that we had been supporting this outreach ministry for over four years. In addition, we were stunned when two very involved members died quite suddenly and unexpectedly (one in late August and the other in early October).
However, donations from neighboring Amelia businesses began to increase. A nearby Texas Roadhouse has shared salad, dressing, rolls, and cinnamon butter with us since January, 2017. In late August, two local franchises – Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut – asked if we would be able to pick up “excess” food from them on a weekly basis. Though we have been unable to serve much of this to our “own” guests, we have shared it with the Wednesday night supper group and have taken everything else to Saul’s (Clermont County’s homeless shelter). And Friday after Thanksgiving a local Chipotle’s provided a “Big Spread” for us to serve to our guests!
At this point we are weary, but remain committed to follow wherever Holy Spirit leads. Our guests continue to be a varied group ranging from children to the elderly; a few homeless persons; some individuals who have limited incomes but who still find ways to share with others; and a slightly diversified mix of races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. The meals themselves continue to be exhausting and yet revitalizing . . . and we believe that they would not be possible without ECSF’s continued assistance and support, for which we are most grateful.
Our latest “record” is serving 67 guests one month (including 6 “new” people). We have also begun helping distribute “Senior Boxes,” a spin-off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which we learned about from the group that continues to use our sanctuary and meeting room to serve meals to those in need every Wednesday evening. Three families, who are members of our congregation, are eligible and will be benefitting from this program.
Several guests continue to help serve, clean up, and contribute (food, personal care items, and gifts) to our monthly event. We continue to learn how to work together – acknowledging each other’s strengths and weaknesses. As we begin our sixth year of service to our neighbors, we are still a work in progress.
We often, literally, ask ourselves, “How have we been able to do this with so few physically able members (at most 15) and such limited financial resources?” We then go on to thank God, in particular the Holy Spirit aspect of the Trinity, and ask one another, “OK, what are we serving this month?”
Trinity Episcopal/Presbyterian Church, McArthur
Edited from submissions by Celia Stiltner
A couple in their early 20s were serious about their relationship with each other, but not married and not ready for a baby. He had a part-time job at the local lumber mill and she was a waitress when their daughter was born. They were struggling, as seems to be the norm in this area. The young father was brought up too proud to go to Job & Family Services. Fortunately the mother read about our Layette program in the local paper. We had her bring the father in also and we worked with another agency that offered him an opportunity to sign up for a work task program. He registered for classes in fields that interested him and now has a full-time job. The couple is also signed up for low-income housing with an option to buy. Had it not been for the young mother reading our advertisement, and coming in and signing up for the Layette program, they would probably still be in a rut with their future looking bleak.
Another young couple, also in their early 20s, is planning their fall wedding in our church. They had a baby earlier this summer but didn’t have a place to live. The mothers of both young people don’t like one another and would not let them live together in either home—using their own issues to keep the couple apart! We worked with three other agencies here in our community and helped them secure an apartment with deposit, first month’s rent, and utilities included. He is working at a local business and taking CDL classes. I recently did a social call to them to extend our well wishes and let them know there are people who do care for others. With their belief in God we are confident in their future and pray for them and for their parents; that they will forgive all the conflicts that happened years ago for the sake of this new little family.
Church of Our Saviour, Mt. Auburn (Cincinnati)
Brian, (not his real name) first came to COS/LINS because he needed volunteer work to maintain his government food assistance. He is unable to hold a job because of his mental illness, and is waiting for a court hearing to get SSI. When he came, he did not have a good support system, but found that volunteering to help others provided meaning and fellowship. And the ability to get food from the pantry is also very helpful. Brian says that the people here made him want to stick around – they are friendly and they make him feel closer to God. His life has taken a positive direction since volunteering here. Brian says he feels happy at the end of a day at COS/LINS, no matter how bad his day had been before that.
CHURCH OF THE EPIPHANY FEEDING MINISTRY, 2018
Sent by Connie Elliott
The serving line of Epiphany/Nelsonville’s monthly community dinner was empty after the first rush of patrons, so I filled a plate for myself and took it to a table. Across from me, a little boy of about 10 or 11 had a loose tooth. We discussed the irritation of a loose tooth on the edge of coming out but still not quite ready, and how they could be encouraged (tying a string around the tooth and hooking the end to a door, and then slamming the door, for example). The conversation then turned to teeth in general, and with almost no warning, the boy said “I guess when I grow up, my teeth will all fall out and I’ll probably have to have dentures.”
In this country, and particularly in Appalachia, having well-cared for teeth and regular access to a dentist is one of the things that separates the haves and the have-nots. It’s common to see adults with mouths sunken in where teeth have fallen out. I looked across the table at the little boy, wondering how his calm acceptance of the prospect of having no teeth would affect his life–his appearance, his ability to properly chew and digest his food, and his general nutrition. And I thought, “I need to support ways to make better dental care available to children like this.”
A member of the Church of Epiphany invited friends to attend our monthly dinner. Although they are active members in a church in a nearby community, they accepted the invitation and attended one of our dinners. Since that time, they attend regularly, enjoying the fellowship and food and always reach out to assist us. They continue to join us each month and always stay at the conclusion of the meal to assist us in washing dishes, sweeping/moping the floors, and re-arranging the tables and chairs, etc.
Sometimes, the impacts on those who serve at the community dinners are as significant as the impacts on those who are served.
At each of our monthly dinners, one or more members of the Church of Epiphany provide “dinner music”. We have piano music accompanied by a clarinet, drums and singing. There has been an occasion in which the guests even enjoyed dancing to the music. At one of our recent dinners, a guest requested the opportunity to play a few numbers on the piano.
In addition to our community receiving a nutritious meal, they are also afforded the opportunity to enjoy and engage in fellowship and entertainment.
We are always complemented on the food that is served and are thanked for providing this service to our community. At the July dinner a young lady came up to us indicating that this was the first dinner she had attended, but it definitely would not be her last!
2018 Impact Story for Higher Calling Financial Solutions from Parishioner of St. Andrew’s
When my wife Rebecca and I first began the Financial Peace Course, we thought we had a pretty good handle on our spending and what it meant to balance a checking account. However, we were living paycheck to paycheck, constantly changing the budget throughout the month to suit our desires.
Higher Calling Financial Solutions (HCFS) helped us not only track our spending, but showed us how much we spent on junk, eating out and other unnecessary purchases. After only six months Rebecca and I now both carefully manage our cash flow. In addition, we have lost the angst that used to come with each payday.
Before starting Financial Peace with HCFS, we only paid lip service to our values and priorities. It is one thing to say that getting out of debt is a priority; it is another to prove it with your checking account and debit card history. We have paid off all of our credit cards and are finally in a position to begin to pay off our car loans.
It is important to also share that before HCFS, I was very apprehensive about the notion of us being parents. But now that I have a core understanding of financial management, I know it is not about how much money you have in the bank, but where you use it to demonstrate your priorities. With peace of mind, we are looking forward to starting a family.
St. Peter’s, Gallipolis, 2018
“Loaves and Fishes”
Before beginning to volunteer at “Loaves and Fishes,” I had read various articles and heard stories about people at the end of the month needing assistance with different services but food especially. By working for that past two or three years in this program, I have been able to connect faces with articles and stories. I had not, even though we are part of Appalachia, realized the need in my own community.
The program allows young and old alike the opportunity to have one well-balanced, plentiful meal near the end of the month. Many are eager to carry out additional meals for that evening or perhaps to have during the following week. I have been amazed at the number of young children who share this opportunity with adults.
The appreciation shown is amazing and heartwarming. The participants are truly thankful for this meal. Likewise, with nearly 50 meals delivered to various “shut-ins” at the neighboring apartment complex, a rewarding experience is shared by all.
With the days of “visiting on the port” all but gone, “Loaves and Fishes” allows participants to have a friendly, safe, comfortable place to visit among themselves and with the volunteers. It is an enjoyable experience for all of our volunteers. We know we are helping area people with true needs.
Providing this service as a group (we could not do it individually) is very fulfilling. Likewise, it is equally rewarding when we see many of these people out and about in the community. They always speak and want to visit, appreciating our concern for them.
“Loaves and Fishes” is a very rewarding for everyone in our community…People Caring for People!!
2018 St. Stephen’s, Columbus
Submitted by Molly Malone, Office Administrator Assistant
Neighborhood Services, Inc.
1950 North 4th Street, Columbus, OH 43201
(614) 297 – 0592
2017 NSI ESCF Vignettes
Chelsea called NSI Food Pantry very anxious. Having just lost a job she knew that cutting costs would now take on a more critical role in her existence. A single mother without reliable transportation, she knew that walking to NSI would take time and was very concerned that we would close before she would arrive. Assured by staff that even if the pantry closed at 1:00 pm and she arrived by 4:00 pm that she would be served gave Chelsea much needed hope. “My Mom is now watching my son so I can look for a job and start working whatever hours that I need to.” We have not been to a pantry in at least five years, but, we are so glad that you are here.” In a time of stress, NSI Food Pantry continues to be a beacon of hope and fresh food for our neighbors in need. As she was leaving, Chelsea, said, “ I hope that we will not be using your pantry for too long, but, it is nice to know that you are here and want to help. Thank you.” Through the end of August, NSI Food Pantry, has had 773 new families visit us this year, which translates into 2,228 new people fed.
St. Paul’s, Logan
Submitted by Jeff Black (these .pdf parts are from the 2019 app, and identical to the 2018 app.)
They didn’t send real stories last year…I emailed you about my conversations with Jeff. He’d sent pictures of tally sheets and this: “In the past we have submitted individual impact stories of individuals being helped in times of need. Tonight was our community dinner night ( the last Thursday of the month). Deacon Bill Bales was with us and preyed with one of our regular attendees who has become very sick and declining. He was there for that help, not the food, and found what he was looking for. I thought I would also share numbers of meals we serve each month. I want you to notice the help we receive from other churches. St. Paul’s Logan started this community dinner some twenty years ago with us serving a free meal once a month. Now in Logan there is a free meal each week of the month at one of the area churches. So our impact has been mighty. Tonight’s numbers were typical- we served 60 sit in meals and 78 take outs.”