Thursday, February 2, 2012

Over 1168 miles!!!!

I wrote the following  for The Dialogue, the newsletter of the church where I serve, First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ of St. Joseph, MO.
1168 miles!  That’s the number of miles FCC’s own Sheryl Webb drove in 2011 for Faith in Action.  Primarily, she has driven elderly people to doctor’s appointments and for specific treatments.  These folks are members of our community who cannot drive themselves and lack family to do so.  They need more than a ride; they often need someone to give them an arm to lean on as they walk to the car and a hand to hold as they wait at an appointment.  Sheryl has provided all these things as a Faith in Action volunteer.
During worship services, you may have heard me mention Faith in Action, one of the ministries of our church.  First Christian helped start FIA back in the early 1990’s to organize volunteer caregivers for people with HIV/AIDS in our community.  Over time, the county health department took over that role (FCC’s own Kelly Kibirige is the HIV/AIDS nurse for Buchannan County and would be glad to talk with you about volunteering).  Faith in Action evolved into an organization that helped people with a variety of medical conditions through volunteers coordinated by Heartland Hospital.  Eventually, Heartland and area churches decided that needs could be better met if the churches made this ministry their own.
In 2008, I was a part of the reorganization of Faith in Action and today I serve as chairperson of its governing board.  Although FIA still receives some support from the Heartland Foundation (free office space at Hope House, etc.) and some logistical support from Heartland Hospital (IT support, etc.), the organization is governed and financially supported by St. Joseph churches.  First Christian is one of them.  Rather than being a non-profit organization, FIA is a coalition of 29 churches and organizations that provide volunteers to help low-income people (often seniors and disabled people without family support) in a variety of ways.  If St. Joseph churches choose not to make FIA happen, it simply disappears.
A great thing about FIA is its diversity.  Member churches include Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical Protestant ones.  FIA churches come from downtown, southside, northside and the east side of town.  Each church provides volunteers who provide ministry to people through transportation to doctor visits, building wheelchair ramps, minor home repair, phone calls to seniors living alone and many other ways.  Here are some highlights from the wonderful work done by FIA over the last year:
  • 2,235 Volunteer Hours 
  • 12,122 Volunteer Miles driven 
  • 875 rides provided 
  • 7 wheelchair ramps built 
  • Numerous home repairs: new handrails, a screened-in porch, storm doors, kitchen cabinets, fixing a leaky roof and weatherizing windows
During these difficult economic times, FIA helps people who would otherwise not be helped.  The clients helped are often referred by social service agencies that for one reason or another cannot provide what is needed.  These folks would fall through the cracks without the volunteers from St. Joe churches.  An important by-product of the work of FIA volunteers is that low-income seniors who do not have support from family are able to live independently in their own homes rather than facing the choice of moving into a care center or possibly becoming homeless.
I am very grateful to Melissa Miles who took on the role of First Christian’s FIA team leader.  She is the one to talk to about volunteering with FIA.  If you can drive, call a lonely senior once a week on the phone, drop off food from Second Harvest, perform minor home repairs or do yard work, you can volunteer for FIA.  Is God calling you to serve by putting your faith into action?
Grace and Peace,

No comments: