Grace Good Shepherd’s Community Outreach
From the beginning, Grace Good Shepherd has been called to help people who are hungry. In the late 80s church members started the Senior Brown Bag Program which continues at GGS to this day. We also began the Deacons’ Garden which still provides fresh vegetables to needy people in our community. For over 40 years, GGS has helped hungry people with food. For 20 years we distributed food from our cupboards. In 1992 we built a new building on the church campus to house the food pantry and a thrift store.
The need for food has increased over the years and rapidly since 2008. In 1986 we fed 360 people. Now, twenty-nine years later, in 2015, we now feed 7,000 of those in need. We have responded to the increase need by expanding our capacity. In 2010 we began a major building effort, temporally moving the Food Pantry into our sanctuary while we remodeled and expanded the Pantry building. We simultaneously converted our service to a Choice Pantry Model, offering the option for people to “shop” for the foods that meet their family needs while meeting everyone with dignity and respect. At present we have 36 volunteers and are helping 600 people a month. We have built a small Food Pantry/Garden Storage Barn to store food and garden equipment and an attached green house for the garden. We have received grants from The Funding Partnership, Presbyterian Hunger Group, and Thrivent for Lutherans.
These projects will increase our ability to serve more people. We have witnessed a growing sense of isolation due to poverty, alienation, and even despair among many people of low and moderate income in our community. In response to this growing despair, GGS has focused even more intently on its mission goals and is spending more resources to provide as much food as possible to those in need, using a service model that increases the dignity of each person served. We are also working to build a sense of community among the pantry participants, doing our best to break down the sense of isolation due to poverty by convening group discussions at the pantry and helping individuals to get better acquainted, build relationship, share resources and find their voices.
The increased numbers of hungry families has challenged us to work hard to be better able to serve and help more of our people in need. In responding to the need, brought on by the present great recession, we have stretched our resources to the max.
Grace Good Shepherd Men's Friday Morning Breakfast and Bible Study
The men's Friday morning study has been thriving for over 40 years! It is a small group (8-14 people) who meet for an hour of fellowship at 7:00 AM every Friday. We each take turns cooking for the group - some are four star cooks and some are not, but the coffee is always good and strong! Men start drifting in about 6:45 AM and breakfast is served until about 7:30. At that point, we read a passage out of either the Old or New Testament and spend the next 30-45 minutes in lively discussion. We usually pick a book or chapter, and spend the next few weeks or months slowly winding our way to the end. We vote on what to study next.
The most amazing part of the Friday study is that out of all the attendants, only 3 or 4 are from our church. The rest come from diverse backgrounds, whether it be Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, or agnostic. The discussion is free-form and all opinions are valued. We delve into each subject and woven into the fabric of discourse we touch upon theology, philosophy, politics, science, sports, and history. Anyone is welcome and all are enriched.
--Gene Callahan, member of GGS for 40 years
Christmas Food Gift Card Program
In December 2014, nearly $6,000 in Christmas Food Gift Cards for purchases at Ray’s Food Place was distributed by the Deacons of Grace Good Shepherd Church (GGS) to 92 community families who had signed up with Deacons at GGS the previous month. This was the second year GGS facilitated distribution of nearly $6,000 in food gift cards. This year, Richard Stancliff, Manager at Ray’s Food Place, also was able to provide an additional 10% in “bonus” gift cards from Ray’s to be distributed as appropriate by the GGS Pastors.
As in previous years, Grace Good Shepherd Church collaborated with the McKinleyville Family Resource Center (MFRC) in successfully applying for a $2,000 Holiday Funding Partnership grant from the Humboldt Area Foundation and with New Heart Church in McKinleyville, which facilitated distribution of approximately 175 children’s toys and gifts that had been collected by the Humboldt Association of Realtors.
Sources of Funding for 2014 Christmas Food Gift Cards
In addition to the $2,000 HAF partnership grant, GGS Deacons received generous donations for the Christmas Food Gift Cards from fellow church members and also successfully applied for three grants:
The Grace Good Shepherd Deacons are hopeful that in future years the church will be able to continue the level of generosity to families in need, not only at Christmastime but throughout the year. The GGS connection with the MFRC and its Food Pantry also benefits regularly from the fresh organic produce donated from the Community Garden. The garden has been ably tended for over 12 years by Master Gardener Stan Schmidt with the assistance of several church and community volunteers.
In the spirit of compassion modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ, Grace Good Shepherd Church Deacons and members are committed to extending loving kindness and support to all in need. The GGS Christmas Food Gift Card program provides the opportunity to add to the joy of the holiday season for numerous families in need within the greater McKinleyville community area.