ECS Grant Truly Serving in Marysville

ECS Grant Truly Serving in Marysville

by Episcopal Community Services; St. John's, Marysville; Susan Kimmel, project director, Loaves & Britches

There are exciting things to report from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marysville!

Thanks to a 2014 Episcopal Community Services (ECS) grant, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marysville has been able to make a measurable impact on lives throughout their community. They applied for a grant with the specific goal of hiring a Community Services Coordinator who would be responsible for making connections with local agencies and services. “As our Loaves & Britches programs began to outpace our volunteer base, we realized the need for a coordinated central position to better manage the services we were already providing and in particular, to increase our monthly Community Free Lunches to weekly events,” reports Susan Kimmel, project director.

Kari Cline, the St. John’s Office Administrator hired in May 2014, displayed an aptitude for connecting with people and finding solutions to problems. In December, she took on the additional role of Community Services Coordinator. By February, Kari had found sponsors for the “Adopt-a-Lunch” program, including the Marysville Police Department. Soon after, St. John’s announced that the monthly Community Free Lunches would now be offered every week! In March, 341 lunches were provided, each prepared and served by a different sponsor. The Police Department prepares lunch on the second Wednesday of the month. A local catering company oversees the third Wednesday, and two teams of community volunteers and St. John’s volunteers provide lunch on the first and last Wednesdays of each month.

At each of the lunches, a health or social services agency is present to assist lunch guests with Social Security questions, MediCal applications, health care concerns or other helpful services to the guests, including free haircuts by a local beauty school. On April 1, 2015, the Marysville Police Department donated 30 impounded bicycles to give to guests. Kari gave out raffle tickets and every guest who needed a bike was able to choose one, including one couple who received a bike with an attached cart to transport their belongings and their three small dogs.

Our Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Phil Reinheimer, and a team of St. John's volunteers actively sought the correct person to serve as Community Services Coordinator. Since Kari has been in the position, she has engaged with dozens of volunteers, recruiting inside the congregation and out for the “Adopt-a-Lunch” program, the Clothes Closet and to help keep the church grounds clean and free of trash after our Community Lunches.

During 2014, the Community Food Shelf provided 17,570 meals, serving 1,730 adults and 342 children with food for three days. This is twice the number of children served in 2013. Between 85 and 100 people were served a nutritious, hot lunch at each of the Community Free Lunches held on the last Wednesday of the month.

St. John’s Community Services Block Grant requires that demographic information be collected from each Food Shelf client. Data shows that 54% of the 2014 clients were homeless men. Only seven clients had incomes that exceeded the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines. More data showed that 20% were age 55 or over; 19% were under age 18; 75% were white; 16% Hispanic; and 9% were African American or another ethnicity.

St. John’s goal of expanded prepared meal service entailed enlisting the help of other churches, service agencies, schools and volunteers from the community at large. They have four outside groups who have joined the “Adopt-a-Lunch” program; three members of these groups now regularly attend our Wednesday Bible study, as does a couple who are regular guests at the Community Lunch. From these new friends, they have three new volunteers at the Community Food Shelf.

St. John’s is meeting regularly with the Mayor of Marysville, the Marysville Police Chief and Lieutenant, a member of the Yuba County Board of Supervisors, a member of the Marysville City Council and the president of the Homeless Consortium, as well as the Ven. Gary Brown, Archdeacon of The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, and pastors from neighboring churches to address concerns from local business owners and neighbors about perceived problems from the homeless community. As a group, their goal is to furnish bathrooms, showers and a space for daytime activities and services for people without access to these basic human needs. All of these goals are focused on creating a diverse and healthy community.

(Adapted from ECS grant report prepared by Susan Kimmel)


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