Through Outreach

Our Mission Relationships in the Wider Community

Outreach at Saint Luke’s Cathedral

June Newsletter, 2021

Why outreach?

Many people would answer this by quoting Matthew 25: Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” Others would talk about loving their neighbor as themselves, about the Biblical themes of compassion for the poor and justice for all, about the way the apostles in the early church shared everything in common and took care of each others needs, and about seeing the face of Christ in the people they meet.  As I consider our role as this urban cathedral, the words of Jeremiah 29:7 come to mind: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you… and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

In the letter of James it says, If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Faith, if it has no works, is dead.” The flip side of this is that a faith that is lived is alive. The most powerful witness to the gospel is the gospel in action. The best way to bring people to Jesus is to do what Jesus would do. The best way to get people to join a church is to be one.  Outreach gives us an opportunity to do just that.

 

Your Outreach Committee…

 

….seeks to further the Cathedral’s engagement with our community and the world. Its stated mission is to coordinate and support the ministries of Saint Luke’s to the local community and the world beyond. We seek to do this by improving communication with the Vestry and among those currently doing outreach ministry, publicizing Saint Luke’s outreach efforts, envisioning and encouraging new outreach strategies, and overseeing outreach funding.

The members of your Outreach Committee are Linda Carleton (chair), Connie Bingham, Sarah Braik, Nancy Brain, Meredith Cough, Karin Draper, Joan McDonald, MJ Northrop, Martha Parshley, Charles Skold, Madeline Valentine, Priscilla Webster, and our clergy leader, Rebecca Grant. We meet quarterly on Sunday after church to share updates about our ministries and to envision future ones.

We always welcome new members!! Please contact Linda Carleton (lindacarleton01@gmail.com) if you might consider join us or would like to have more information.

St. Elizabeth’s Jubilee Center

Under the guidance of Sarah Borgeson, St. E’s new Executive Director, the Jubilee Center continues to serve 150+ neighbors every Tuesday morning.  The basic items of toilet paper, laundry detergent and bath soap are given out weekly. In addition, each week a special item is offered. Dental care products, diapers, soft housewares (sheets, blankets, towels, etc.) and hard housewares (pots and pans, dishes and other kitchenware) are offered once a month.  Congregations support St. E’s financially, with volunteers, and by the donation of both new and used items.  This year St. Luke’s will be encouraged to organize monthly drives geared to the needs of the people served.

On Tuesday mornings from 8 – 11:15 volunteers serve the public directly, sort donated items, and pack new items for distribution among other things.  To learn more about volunteering, please contact Martha Parshley – martha.parshley@gmail.com.

 

Saint Luke’s Food Pantry

What we do, who we serve, who we are

The St. Luke Food Pantry is a low-barrier food pantry that provides fresh, frozen and shelf stable food to its neighbors every Thursday morning.  Neighbors may collect food every week and take as much food as they need, as long as the supply lasts.

The pantry serves approximately 42 households representing approximately 130 individuals every week.  This translates into approximately 85 unique households per month representing approximately 275 individuals.  The vast majority live on the Portland Peninsula and walk to the pantry.  Approximately 30% of the households are led by individuals born in the U.S. and 70% are led by individuals born outside the U.S.

Pantry volunteers are primarily members of St. Luke’s congregation.  Although, neighbors and the greater Portland Community have contributed significantly.  St. Luke’s is a partner agency of Good Shepherd Food Bank (GSFB), and the Pantry purchases and gleans food from Wayside Food Programs.  The Locker Project and the South Portland Food Cupboard lend their drivers and vans to pick up large distributions of food at Wayside and deliver them to St. Luke’s.  The Episcopal Diocese of Maine has contributed food and awarded a domestic poverty grant; and GSFB and Catholic Charities have also awarded grants.  Portland West has run ads at no charge.  Big Sky, Rosemont and Folly 101 contribute food.  Individual neighbors have volunteered and have contributed food.

Benefits of the Food Pantry

 In addition to feeding the hungry, answering God’s call to help the needy and meeting the Cathedral Church of St. Luke’s mission to serve the city and the wider community, there are additional benefits for the neighbors who attend as well as for the volunteers.

Volunteers spend time with the Cathedral’s neighbors, get to know them as individuals, build trust and develop friendships. Volunteers derive joy from meeting the specific need of an individual neighbor who requires a vegan or gluten free diet.  Food pantry volunteers are members of a committed, energetic team that appreciates and supports each other, and have fun working together at something to which they are committed.

Like the volunteers, the neighbors spend time with the volunteers, build trust and develop friendships.  They also get to know their other neighbors develop friendships while they wait for their turn to get food, and learn to support each other.  The neighbors want to give back and do so by helping the volunteers set up and contributing however they can.  In return they feel respected for their contributions.  And they learn that the Cathedral building that backs onto Park Street is a Church where they are welcomed and valued.

How can I get involved?

The Food Pantry needs a group of volunteers who can contribute time and talent in a variety of ways.  On Tuesday mornings, 2-3 volunteers need to shop” at Wayside, on Wednesday mornings, 3-4 volunteers need to sort, store food, and set up for Thursdays distribution, and on Thursdays 5-6 volunteers need to distribute the food.  On these three days, one or two of the volunteers need to be able to lift heavier cases of food. Some volunteers come every week, some come once a month.  Some are snow birds who will return in time to fill in for year-round volunteers when they take their summer vacations.

For those who need a more flexible schedule or are unable to come into the Pantry, there are jobs that need to be done on a weekly basis (maintain the client roster, order the food and manage the inventory).  There are jobs that need to be done on an as needed basis (write thank you notes, pay the bills, research and apply for grants, recruit, train and schedule volunteers).  And, then there are one-and-done jobs (organizing a food drive).

Right now, there is a need for a communication person, someone who can design the website, write stories for the Epistle, place ads in local newspapers, etc.

Anyone who would like to be involved, please contact Catherine Hyde ( hydecath@icloud.com or 432-288-5805) or Nancy Brain (nrbjcw@me.com or 207-776-3525

Family Promise

During the pandemic, Greater Portland Family Promise (GPFP) has pivoted to new ways of helping families impacted by homelessness.   St. Luke’s has been able to play a role.

Shelter:  All families who were in the program in March 2020 found apartments.  One graduate family of eight has been housed in the Clark Memorial parsonage.  They are moving out this month, and another family or families will move in, subject to pandemic restrictions on multiple families.

65 families who might have come to Family Promise before the pandemic are now housed in shelter overflow housing in South Portland motels.   More families are en route from the border.  Our GPFP caseworker is now able to work directly with a few families and in May transitioned three families to their own apartments.  This position is supported in part by our donation from our Outreach budget.

Prevention:   The GPFP caseworker is able to work with a few families who are at risk of eviction and their landlords.  These families need not be GPFP graduates.  Volunteers are not involved directly with these families but are invited to help with targeted financial assistance.  At this time GPFP is working with several American families and a family of four from Guatemala.

Stabilization:  Since it makes no sense to place a family in housing if they cannot keep it, a Housing Stabilization Fund was created to help with rent and utility payments and other basic financial needs.   Graduate families have always benefited from tenant training and transition support, but when the pandemic hit, they faced unimaginable challenges.   Most were low wage earners and many who lost hours were not eligible for unemployment or federal support. The new GPFP housing stabilization fund, supported by fundraising and individual donations, can help with rent and utility payments.

Host congregations have an opportunity to sponsor a recent graduate family.

Any trained Family Promise volunteer can help.    St. Luke’s has sponsored a family of three since last August. We helped with winter clothing, food from our food pantry, phone bills, and bus passes while the mother was unable to work.   She got a work permit in March and promptly found a job she loves.  We helped with a partial rent payment while she transitioned her finances from GA to living on her earnings.  It was not easy- she has an apartment which GA was willing to pay for, but she could not quite afford on her own.  She wants to stay in her neighborhood because it is “full of mamas” who support each other, and so she found a compatible roommate to help with the rent. The children are thriving. St. Luke’s could be ready to take on another family.

How can we help? We don’t know when or how we will be able to host families in our parish space, but there are a few volunteer opportunities as we transition to a post-pandemic world:

Opportunities for all: 

*Coordinate St. Luke’s’ participation in the national Family Homelessness Awareness Day, June 26 – more info to come.  

**Moving team:   should be able to lift and carry furniture.  Daytime flexibility is a plus.

***African food distribution:  We now offer African food once a month to our graduate families from Africa.  Volunteers are needed to pack food bags once a month (4th Thursday) Other volunteers deliver the bags to the families.

****Homeless Prevention and Housing Stabilization Fundraising:    Family Promise hosts numerous fundraising events which we publicize in the E-pistle.    Alternative Giving (December) functions as our congregation-wide fundraiser and of course we welcome individual donations all year long.  Donations from individuals and from fund raising efforts do not support GPFP overhead but are available for our supported family, and for families in the prevention and stabilization programs. 

*****Family Support Partnership for recent graduate families (trained volunteers only, as you will be interacting directly with a family).  Our first family is well on its way to independence, and we are ready to consider supporting another.

We want to thank the many St. Lukans who completed training and were able to spend time with our families prior to the pandemic and those who were not trained but helped with dinners, set up and take down, and laundry.  We hope you all had a rewarding experience and will join us again when we are able to host again.    We will all be delighted to answer questions. 

Connie Bingham (constancecbingham@gmail.com), Mary Linneman, Lynne England (co-coordinators).

The Haiti-Maine Partnership

St. Luke’s Haiti outreach has been exploring new ways to support our partners. This winter we learned about Trinity Hope, a Tennessee based nonprofit that focuses on supporting lunch programs in Haitian schools. They were looking to expand their service area and offered to buy food for St. Simon/St Jude. While this is not enough to feed the children for the full month, it does help to reduce our costs. That allows us a little more latitude to support the school in other ways.

One requirement made by Trinity Hope is that each child have their own plate and spoon. Until now the students have had to share the few bowls or plates on hand.

This takes much longer to feed all the children, as you can imagine. We would like to raise $140 to supply the school with these utensils. We also would like to raise $350 for a special end of year meal that will include some meat and popular salads. Those salads will probably include potato salad, beet salad and coleslaw which will cost $350. There is a video link showing last year’s end of year celebration which includes a game of musical chairs.

Next year we would like to resume planning for supplying the school with a few computers. This would allow the children to become familiar with navigating the worldwide web. As there is no electrical supply in the rural areas, they will also need solar panels to power the computers. There is a great need for improvement to the education at our school, and a great desire on their part.

This year has been very difficult for Haitians. Political unrest due to constitutional crises has been devastating to the economy. Inflation and COVID impacts are making food scarce. Wisly reports that many families in the community are only able to afford two meals per day, and some eat even less.

Our partners in Haiti express their gratitude to the people of St. Luke’s for their continued support. This includes: Canon Serena Beeks of the Diocese of Haiti, Pere Mondesir, the parish priest, Wisly Clairis, the school director, Susan Turberville of the Haiti Education Fund, the children and their parents. Thank you to St. Luke’s for continuing to support St. Simon/ St. Jude Episcopal School in Duny.

The next Haiti-Maine partnership zoom meeting is on Sunday, August 1 at noon, look for a zoom link on the Cathedral website.

All are welcome.  Specific roles that need attention are: 1. A person (or team) to search for opportunities to secure solar/laptops access at the school. 2.  A treasurer to track a simple budget and wires. 3. A point person to focus on communication between our parishes. 

Please come to the next meeting to collaborate on solutions or contact our cochairs, Karin Draper at draper.karin@gmail.com  or Meredith Cough at meredith.cough@gmail.com 

Public Policy and Environmental Action Team (PPEAT)

The Public and Environmental Action Team (PPEAT) engages St. Luke’s parishioners in advocacy (primarily state level) on issues of social and climate/environmental justice. Advocacy efforts include writing letters to our representatives and testifying at committee hearings at the State House. This year we have addressed issues of sustainable agriculture, health care, racial justice, safeguarding the electoral process, and clean water. PPEAT submitted a resolution to the 2020 Diocesan Convention: “Stewardship of creation and practice of justice/equity by implementing carbon offset program,” and the resolution passed.

The team meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month from 6-7 PM. It is co-led by Sarah Braik (sbraik642@gmail.com) and Charles Skold (skold.charles@gmail.com). All are welcome.