Saturday, November 1, 2014

Outreach


SATURDAY FOOD PANTRY

The Church of Peace Saturday Food Pantry is open from 9-11 every Saturday.  We serve approximately 32 families a month that amounts to around 96 individuals.  The Church of Peace works with nine local churches and several local organizations to provide a food pantry that is available outside of usual pantry hours.

Each family receives a 3 to 4 day supply of food that includes items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Our staff and volunteers package the food bundles with focus on items from each of the food groups.  Toilet tissue, bath soap, shampoo, dish detergent, and laundry soap are also available when they are in stock.  Moms can also request a package of disposable baby diapers to help them get through until their next payday.  The Church of Peace depends on donations from our partners, community members, and organizations to help keep the pantry stocked and open.

MEAL/ACTIVITY PROGRAM

Church of Peace has made it a mission to make sure “no child goes to bed hungry”. With that in mind, we began our summer meal program in 2003 by partnering with the USDA and the State of Illinois Nutrition Program. We started by serving lunch at the church the first year. In the next few years, we found that children did not like to leave the building after eating and enjoyed being with their peers. It was at this time that we incorporated a summer activity program. Children were happy to spend a few hours with their friends doing fun activities, and parents enjoyed sending their children to a safe facility where they knew they would also be given breakfast and lunch. After a few more years, we started expanding our food service and are now serving meals to more than 20 sites each summer. We use our dedicated volunteers, not only from the Church of Peace but from community churches, to deliver the food to each site at the appropriate time. With the number of sites served in the community, we also use kitchens at Hope United Church of Christ in Moline and the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island. With more families finding it difficult to feed their children during the time away from school, the Church of Peace summer meal programs are being utilized more each summer. We even serve evening dinner meals at certain sites. This encourages families to eat together despite their financial status. For information on where to find these sites during the months of June and July, contact the Church of Peace office.

With the success of the summer meals program, Church of Peace was encouraged to expand its summer meals to include after school program meals through the same government partners. Once again we started small by serving snacks to children enrolled in 3 different after school programs. Once we felt comfortable with the meal program and the agencies who hosted the enrichment programs, we expanded to take on hot dinner meals along with the snacks. Children told us that sometimes the only meals they are able to have are the ones they eat at school (breakfast and lunch), so they were thrilled to be offered a dinner meal at their after school program. Parents were also grateful, and it gives us joy knowing that we might be contributing to better education for children by making sure they are not battling hunger in the evening when they are completing their homework.

The children in the local school district are on a year-round school calendar, so there are two intersessions from school: one in the Spring and one in the Fall. These intersessions are two weeks long, and Church of Peace also serves breakfast and lunch during this period.

As stated, check with the church office to find out the locations and times of meals during any of the year-round programs.

BOOK NOOK

The Church of Peace volunteers sell new children’s books two times a month for only 1 dollar each at the nearby elementary Academy school.  While the books are worth much more, this price allows children to buy books of their own to have at home.  Some kids not only improve their own reading ability, but also teach their younger brothers and sisters to read.  The usual sales times are from 11-12 noon on the first and third Fridays of each month when school is in session.

LIGHTS ON FOR LEARNING

English As a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered to neighborhood residents on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from September through May at the Church of Peace.  These classes are held from 9 am-2 pm, and childcare is offered to parents who have children that are not attending school.  These classes are offered through a grant from the State of Illinois, and in a partnership with Black Hawk College who provides the teachers, and Rock Island Schools who provides the administration.

The childcare for the students’ children is DCFS exempt.  Childcare providers are employed through Church of Peace, and snacks are offered to the children during the morning hours.

DIAPERS FOR BABY JESUS

Our church collects hundreds of diapers at Christmas time for our neighbors.  These are packaged into smaller quantities and given out throughout the year to mothers who need assistance.

COMMUNITY CARING CONFERENCE

In the 1970s, the Church of Peace was faced with the decision of whether to stay in the changing neighborhood or relocate outside of the city.  After studying the situation, the church made the decision to stay in this location and in 1976 launched the organization called the Community Caring Conference.  The CCC has tackled such projects as crime prevention programs, neighborhood clean-up, street lighting, public education, GED preparation, neighborhood block clubs, Child IDs, National Night Out, and a voice in policy making at City Hall.  For more information and how you can get involved, visit their website at www.ricaring.org.

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

Neighbors call on the church and ask for food vouchers, bus vouchers, and monetary assistance for rent, utility or deposit or any number of financial needs.  We help them through different community resources, Churches United, and the parish nurse have also been involved to help find resources in the medical area.