GO Daily Briefings

The GO Ministry will post periodic briefings to keep the parish informed of the dynamic needs of our community - the scope and specifics are changing daily, and often during a single day. So please check this page regularly to get the latest information we've received. To find additional information about our community partners' needs, click on the link in the sidebar to the right.

GJB 3/25/2020


April 28th 10:00

Two events presented by SEARCH and LOTS, two of our partners working with the homeless, are coming up this week. Vist their web for information on how to join these virtual events - don't forget to donate to these organizations in the face of increased demand for their servcies.

SEARCH 2020 Virtual Annual Luncheon occuring on April 30th

Lord of the Streets 2020 Virtual Annual Luncheon occuring May 5th


April 24th 10:00 AM

There are extraordinary demands on our community partners at this time, especially with respect feeding families and individuals who are in fiancial distress - please see the update from the Christian Community Service Center below:

We are feeding an extraordinary number of people right now, and we just pulled this calculation forward to share with our board of directors: 

 

2019: March 16-April 18

2020: March 16-April 18

# food packages distributed, duplicates included

785

2,587

# people fed, duplicates included

2,192

10,896

% children fed

38%

42%

Donations to community organizations providing food and other essentials services are critical to their ability to continue to serve the most vulnerale in our community. 

____________________

Update from Lord Of The Streets

This past weekend, I was rereading Isaiah 58, and found where I had scrawled LOTS in the margin of my bible.  Isaiah describes service pleasing to God.  Your generosity is affirmation of God’s reply, “Here I am.”  Let me explain…

There has been a gap in the number of meals available to the homeless in Houston because several agencies have stopped serving meals.  We’ve fallen into a rhythm where LOTS is providing meals at an unprecedented rate.  Our growth in meals looks like the exponential pandemic graph.  Today, we passed out 333 meals; by comparison, we passed out 628 for the entire month of February.  The demand continues to grow.  We have also settled on three special days:  T-shirt Tuesday, water Wednesday, and hygiene Thursday – where we supplement the meals with needed items for the homeless.

None of this could be possible without so many generous and faithful supporters of Lord of the Streets.  We are grateful for you answering our prayers.  If you’re wondering how you can help:

We continue to need:

  • Meals on a daily basis (See LOTS section on the GO page for specifics)
  • Mmen’s large t-shirts, we are in dire need of t-shirts 
  • Continued prays for LOTS, our staff and our clients

We invite you to join us for our virtual Spring Luncheon.  It’s a free event with a nationally acclaimed voice of the homeless, Mark Horvath, as the featured speaker.  I think you’ll find it informative.  Sign up here.

It is through your generosity that we’re doing what Isaiah proclaimed.

Will Symmes, Director of Volunteers, LOTS


April 17th 3:30 PM

I received an delightful email from Anne Hamilton describing what she, Brett and other SJD members are doing to assist Lord of the Street (LOTS); excerpts shared below:

"Thanks for asking me to share what Brett and I have done to help out Lord
of the Streets while following Stay Safe/Stay Home guidelines. Most of us
have felt side-lined when many of our neighbors need us most! This is very
easy way to help at such a critical time.

In response to a request from Will Symmes at Lord of the Streets, Brett
and I put sack lunches together and dropped them off in the LOTS parking
lot at 3401 Fannin St. without getting out of our car... LOTS can definitely use our help preparing snack packs... LOTS is serving over 200 people a day with only 3 staff members and no volunteers.

We¹re encouraging all of our SJD friends join in parparing 20 or more packs and 
coordinate with others so only one person drops off each week.

Instructions to make Snack Packs:
- One-gallon plastic bags with non-perishable items inside
- Pre-packaged foods can include any combination of: a protein (vienna
sausages, slim jims, tuna packs, peanut butter packages, jerky, etc.),
- Cracker or protein, cereal and/or granola bars, fruit (dried or packaged like fruit cocktail),
- Drink (bottled water or a juice pack),
- Cookies
- Napkin

A great idea is to add a bible verse or a note. You can get help from your
kids or grandkids on this one!"

Important Information: Call Will Symmes at 832-746-7001 before you deliver so he can meet you at the car. The address is 3401 Fannin St. 77004 and parking lot is behind the building. He can also be reached at: will@symmes.org


April 15th 2:00 PM

Update from Chrisitan Community Service Center: 

Thank you for your church’s support of CCSC’ work, especially during this season in our community.

As of yesterday, we have distributed 2,049 food packages which fed 8,445 persons (duplicates included) and 41% of those fed were children. This was done in 4 weeks, a record for the ministry. In addition, we have helped 55 households with their rent because their landlords have issued eviction orders despite the Texas Supreme Court’s order halting proceedings.

We are planning for a dramatic increase in need in the months (and possible years) to come. In addition to the food pantries, we are adapting the employment and children’s programs to meet this need amidst social distancing continuing at some level.

 My main purpose in emailing you is to thank you. This is CCSC’s 40th anniversary year. We were created to be the church’s response to local poverty, and our foundation has always been our covenant churches. During this time when there is great disruption in our community, your church continues to be our steady rock. We could not feed this volume of people without you, your church, and your people.

Michelle Shonbeck, Executive Director CCSC


March 31st 4:50 PM

The FORGE has just opened COVID 19 Essential Child Care which is operating serving parents and children of essential health care workers - Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. 

See a list of additional services being offered by The Forge: Current Activities Offered by The Forge

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St. John the Divine Vestry Action - Financial Contributions to Community Partners Addressing Emergent Needs

In response to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable populations in our community the Local Missions Team recommended to the Vestry that  significant financial contributions be made to eight organizations in Houston: Christian Community Service Center, Kid's Meals, Lord of the Streets, The Beacon, Episcopal Community Health Outreach Services, Mission of Yahweh, L.I.F.E. Houston and Covenant House. The recommendation was approved unanimously. Funds will be distributed to these organizations as soon as possible.

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Update from Casa de Esperanza:

Life at Casa de Esperanza has dramatically changed in the past 2 weeks, as I’m sure it has for you as well. We are practicing social distancing in ways we never would have anticipated just a few weeks ago:

  • Our office is closed, and all office staff are working remotely. 
  • The Casa de Esperanza neighborhood is closed to visitors, including volunteers and each home is practicing social distancing. Home visits and family visits have moved to online platforms.
  • Our Hands of Hope interns are demonstrating their fortitude and gentle hearts in caring for the children lovingly, but without the volunteer assistance they have come to depend on.
  • All outside contact has not stopped, however. Many of our families are in desperate situations. Families who were barely subsisting on minimum wage find themselves without any income. School-age children and children who have been in day care are now at home all day. Our parent workers have been loading up vans with food and other necessities to take to our families in the community, who are most appreciative. From a family of 6: “Thank you so much Casa for helping us out with food, supplies and Walmart cards. I already wasn’t working much and you are the only one putting food on our table.”
  • We are grateful to the Houston Food Bank for keeping us supplied with food for our children and families.

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Update from The Forge for FamiliesA Message from the Forge for Families Leadership and A List of Immediate Needs mentioned in the video appeal.

GJB


March 29th 2:30 PM

Kathy O'Neil recently shared the following information from one of our community partners, Kid's Meals: COVID-19 FACT Sheet. Please review the information to better understand how to best aid our partner in providing meals to children in our community, especially during the pandemic. 

GJB


March 28th, 2:15 PM 

Lazarus of the Streets is open again!  Mail services and the HH Clinics are now available at LOTS once again. Please see needs for LOTs clients below:

Currently, volunteers are not permitted onsite. However, sack lunches are needed. Food should be pre-packaged or fresh and raw fruits and vegetables only, unless prepared in a licensed kitchen under strictly sanitary conditions.

Suggested items to include in an individual sack “meal”: cheese sticks, bottled water, juice, meat sticks, chips, fresh or dried fruit, fresh vegetables such as carrots, protein or granola bars, etc.  
Packaging these items as a single meal in a lunch sack will facilitate drop-off, transport and distribution.  

Donations are also needed as well as your prayers for our clients and staff - safety, patience and continued good health - Donate Now!


March 27, 2020, 10:30 AM

Around Houston -

Update 3/27, 1:oo pm Community partner reqest

Forge for Families hopes to open next Tuesday and had need of specific supplies:

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Other News and Notes -

Those who may interested in assisting seniors with grocery shopping and other needs - thus far the need is not great, but it may grow in the coming days and weeks. If you are interested in being contacted should the need increase please contact Susan Davis or Kim Jameson.  

I commend to you this editorial by David Brooks of the NY Times: The Moral Meaning of the Plague. I believe you will find his words an encouragement and a call to live into our highest calling as Christians, a selfless love of God, our neighbor and ourselves.

Please send me your stories about how you are addressing your calling through service, being present to others, speaking a healing word - sharing will encourage others. I'll share them here and or on my blog.


March 26, 2020, 9:30 AM

Opportunities to Help & Stories from Parishioners

Good morning. Please note that we've updated the Community Partner Needs - Pandemic page (link in the sidebar - top of page, right side) with information about their operation status. A link is also included that will take you to the partners online donation options and in some cases a list of specific needs for in-kind donations. 

The Local Missions team will be meeting in the next week or so to consider donations for a few of our long-term partners that on essential support services for those in need: food, sheltre and medical care. Information on the outcome of that meeting will be posted here when available.

Finally, I will continue to post stories shared with me by our parishioners, as well as other relevant stories, to the Building Bridges blog (link in sidebar). This morning I posted a story about an unexpected encounter with Jesus shared with me by Diane Baker, a parishioner at SJD. 

Blessings - GJB


March 25, 2020, 3:00 PM

Awareness & Action Needed

In today's Houston Chronicle Chris Tomlinson highlights a threat to the availability of food for those who rely on Houston's foodbanks; see  Food banks signal an economic crisis ahead. Please share this story with those who may not be aware of the impact produced by buying more food or other essentials than one may need for a 1-2 week period. 

Both financial and food donations are needed. Due to current circumstances we can redudce our own risk of exposure, and that of others, by minizing "hand-offs" or by donating online. Please consult a community partner's web site for direct-to-organization drop-off options.

The Christian Community Service Center (CCSC), one of our community partners, recently sent along the following appeal: 

We want to give you an update on CCSC. As your church’s outreach arm, we serve people through the disaster of poverty, natural disasters and now this pandemic. Like your church, we are adapting to a landscape that is changing daily. The CCSC staff have a combined 85+ years of experience in navigating different types of crises, and that experience is serving us well right now.

Essentially, it is our goal to keep programs open and serving people, although we recognize there are factors outside our control. We will modify as circumstances dictate.  

Already, we are seeing the following:

  • Work hours and wages reduced and some jobs eliminated
  • School closings increasing the need for food in homes with children
  • Those requiring medical care now in a deeper financial crisis

If church members approach you, asking how they can help the community, please consider the following:

  • We ask for you and your congregation’s prayers.
  • We ask for donations of nonperishable food.

·         We ask for financial support to amplify our services which will most certainly be taxed with a recession beginning. Two and a half years into the Great Recession, we had more than doubled our services and the numbers continued to rise for another two years. Food drives help greatly as do gifts to support the employment workshops, financial support and other ways we help folks to bridge a crisis.

  • We do not, at this time, need additional volunteers.

Thank you for your consideration and for all the ways you support our Christ-based mission. I imagine your church is also challenged during these times, so know that we at CCSC pray for our 40 covenant churches.