These are difficult days, aren’t they? I know each one of you is experiencing the isolation of “social distancing” in some way, whether you live alone or in a household full of people who are now together 24/7. Even as each one of us struggles individually or as a family with these restrictions, the Community Ministries department at IPC is struggling as well. During normal times, pretty much everything we do is “in person” as we seek to provide the hospitality of Christ to every person who comes through our doors. The Food Pantry, STAIR, Lift-Off, First Light, Habitat, Social Services, mission trips—all of those ministries seek to share the love of Christ through the ministry of presence, meeting needs as we are able in very hands-on ways. So, these days of forced social distancing strike at the heart of our ministry in ways we all find ourselves grieving at the moment. And yet, we are still trying to meet the very real and increasing needs of the most vulnerable in our community. Here are a couple of ways we have shifted the way we do ministry to meet current needs during the COVID-19 crisis:
1. Our food pantry is physically closed. Please do not bring food donations until the Food Pantry is able to reopen once COVID-19 restrictions end. However, we will continue to serve our regular 25 clients each week. During this crisis, we have extended our partnership with City Meats to provide a $50 voucher to our pantry clients each week, beginning this week. They can redeem those “vouchers” for the Healthy Family Pack we have been providing for a couple of years. This includes three kinds of frozen meat/fish, three kinds of frozen vegetables, milk, eggs, bread, dried rice and beans. In addition, City Meats has agreed to give our families the fifteen items they most commonly receive in non-perishables from the IPC Food Pantry (canned vegetables, fruits and soups, spaghetti noodles and sauce, cereal, peanut butter and Jelly). We will also extend this assistance to our STAIR and CFAF families who call us with a food crisis.
2. We continue to provide direct financial assistance to help people with utilities, rent, prescription medications and transportation assistance. This assistance is particularly important when so many of our families are forced to stay home with their children rather than go to work, while others have lost or been laid off from hourly wage jobs.
3. We are continuing to support First Light Shelter for Homeless Women and Children by providing sack lunches on Friday afternoons that the staff can hand out to guests on Saturday. In normal times, First Light guests go to Pathways for lunch. During this COVID-19 crisis, however, First Light guests are staying in the shelter 24/7 and so lunch is now being provided by First Light. Click on this Sign-up Genius link to volunteer to make lunches. We are currently scheduled through April.
The Food Pantry ministry and direct financial assistance are funded during this crisis through IPC Social Services. The IPC Foundation provided the Social Service fund with an emergency grant of $5,000 to assist with these new procedures during this crisis. We are incredibly grateful for this grant and reminded of the blessing of the IPC Foundation. However, we know that generous grant will not fully cover the needs we will encounter. We realize this is a difficult time financially for many people. But if you are able to contribute to help the most vulnerable among us, we would be deeply grateful for any contribution you can make to IPC Social Services to help us continue to be in ministry to our community. Please know we are praying for all of you. Please continue to pray for those most in need of our compassion and concrete help during these difficult days.
Grace and Peace,