Archive for Serve & Social Justice

Report on Pack-a-Back Drive

pack-a-back-drive-backpacksIn July the Outreach Team and the Children’s Center held a drive to gather school supplies and backpacks for the Sacred Heart Community Service Pack-a-Back Drive. Together, we collected:

  • 14 full backpacks
  • 49 empty backpacks
  • $230 in gift cards for shoes
  • 15 scientific calculators
  • Numerous boxes of crayons, pencils, paper, glue, scissors, and more

This amounts to more than two complete classrooms of students who started this school year prepared to learn! Thank you for your generosity. This year, we were part of an effort to deliver a record 3,088 backpacks to K–12 children whose parents could not afford to purchase all the necessary supplies to help them succeed.

Sacred Heart is one of the agencies that our congregation supports with volunteers and funds. If you are interested in helping Sacred Heart in its efforts to eradicate poverty in Silicon Valley, sign up to volunteer during Compassion Week.

September Outreach Connection: Project WeHOPE

Dignity on Wheels shower trailerThis month, our featured Outreach Connection agency is Project WeHOPE. Project WeHOPE started as a homeless shelter in East Palo Alto in the winter of 2009. Since then, the organization has grown its scope of service to include job training, transition to permanent housing, and mobile shower units. Pastor Paul Bains, the founder of Project WeHOPE, describes its mission as helping the homeless and those at risk in rebuilding their lives through services that are customized to the needs of each client.

An Outreach Connection offering will be taken for Project WeHOPE on Sunday, September 18, at all services. You may give in person or online. Pastor Bains will also be the guest preacher at the evening Creekside Crossings service that Sunday, and all are invited to attend. We have also partnered with Project WeHOPE to offer several service opportunities at the agency during this year’s Compassion Week.

Sign Up for Compassion Week Projects, Oct. 3–9

Compassion Week 2015 child painterYou are invited to put our fall “Love Does” theme into action by participating in one or more service and social justice opportunities throughout the Peninsula or on our church campus during our annual Compassion Week, scheduled for October 3–9. Please invite your friends and family to join us! Our goal is to get 2,000 participants from Los Altos United Methodist Church and the community engaged in acts of compassion.

There will be no regular Sunday worship services on October 9. Throughout Compassion Week, our worship will be through our service!

Love serves: hands-on opportunities
Visit the registration site to browse the listings and sign up. Activities appropriate for all age groups have been planned. Space is limited for many of these projects—sign up soon! If you need assistance, contact compassionweek@laumc.org. We look forward to serving with you.

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Compassion Week 2015 blanket makingProjects to do at home or with your small group
Several flexible projects can be done any time you’re free—at home, with friends, or at your regular small-group meeting! These projects are noted on the registration website with “Pick Your Date” in the title. Contact the listed project leader for instructions to pick up supplies for making cards, fleece blankets, knitted hats and scarves, or letters for social justice.

Design your own service opportunity
If you want to get creative, arrange your own service project with family and friends! Please email the Compassion Week team to let us know what you’re planning so we can add your experience to our final tally.

Save the date: Compassion Week Celebration
Sunday, October 16, 12:00–2:00pm, Creekside Center
To share the successes and stories of our service week, Los Altos UMC is holding a lunch celebration the week after Compassion Week. Meet the organizations we served, share stories about your service experiences, celebrate with worship, and watch a slideshow of photos from various projects. We will also have a Nothing But Nets Basketball Shoot-Out Tournament! Watch for details coming soon.

August Outreach Connection: Hope’s Corner

Our featured Outreach Connection agency this month is Hope’s Corner, Inc. People in our community are hungry. Even if employed, people earning minimum wage cannot afford both rent and food. In addition, people who are unhoused need a place to feel welcomed. Hope’s Corner, Inc., addresses these needs every Saturday by providing a nutritious breakfast and bag lunch. Hope’s Corner now serves 250 breakfasts per week on average. The organization also offers free showers and recently expanded the shower program to be open on Thursday mornings as well as Saturday mornings. On Thursdays, Community Services Agency has a social worker on site to help connect guests with the services they need.

On Sunday, August 14, Hope’s Corner board member Kevin Thompson will speak at the morning services and board President Leslie Carmichael will speak at the evening service with updates about what Hope’s Corner offers. You will find donation boxes outside the entrances to the Sanctuary and Creekside. Please give generosity to this growing program.

Register Now for Poverty Simulation, Aug. 28

Poverty Simulation Step Up Silicon Valley

Thousands of men, women, and children live in poverty in Silicon Valley, and with skyrocketing housing costs, trying to make ends meet is more stressful and elusive than ever. To gain greater insight into and compassion for the challenges they endure, sign up for the Poverty Simulation, a unique role-playing event that allows you to take a deep dive into life with a shortage of money. In this fast-paced activity, you will experience four weeks of poverty in one afternoon, role-playing as a member of a low-income family struggling to provide food, shelter, and other basic necessities while navigating through community resources. You will also meet people who have lived in poverty and discuss opportunities to create a truly thriving community. The experience will touch you on intellectual, emotional, and spiritual levels.

The Poverty Simulation will be held on Sunday, August 28, 12:00–3:00pm in Creekside and is open to adults and high school students. Space is limited! Visit the registration page for more information and to register. Contact Nancy Peterson with questions or to volunteer at the event if you participated in the simulation last year.

The event is sponsored by the LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice Committee in a multi-faith partnership with Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Palo Alto First United Methodist Church, Bay Area Cultural Connections, Congregation Beth Am, and Saint Simon Parish. Step Up Silicon Valley, a movement to reduce poverty initiated by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, will conduct the simulation.

 

Ramadan Dinner Attracts More Than 100 People

Ramadan iftar dinner LAUMC 1 On the evening of June 27, Creekside was alive with storytelling, new friends meeting, prayers exchanged, laughter, and great Turkish food as we shared a fast-breaking Ramadan meal with more than 40 members of the Pacifica Institute. People of all ages from LAUMC and various local Muslim mosques came together to hear about the significance of Ramadan and to observe the evening call to prayer. Organized by the Bold Service and Social Justice Practice Committee, this event was one of many that we have shared with our Muslim “cousins” over the past nine months. LAUMC guests who attended said: “I’ve worked side by side with Muslims in the tech industry but never took the time to talk about traditions, faith and culture. What an inspiring evening.” “I felt so connected with the woman that I dined with, I invited her to join my small group.” “I never understood the similarities we have as faith traditions.”

Ramadan iftar dinner LAUMC 2Guests from Pacifica Institute also shared comments, including one of the evening’s planners: “I came home with a very sweet taste in my mouth, a very pleasant feeling in my heart, and a hope for the future! Tonight was very special. Not only because it was one of the last ten nights of the holy month of Ramadan though. I experienced a strong sense of belonging to the community increasing every minute I spent there. Praying in both religions next to my Methodist friends was priceless. I wish everybody at Pacifica could experience this.”

Thank you to all who made this evening special, and may we continue to grow in compassion, appreciation, and understanding toward our Muslim neighbors.

Hope’s Corner Offers Additional Day of Showers for the Homeless

Hope’s Corner, a mission outreach program of LAUMC, has added a second day of free showers for the homeless and needs volunteers to check in/out homeless guests and ensure cleanliness of the shower facilities. LAUMC member Bob Lee is organizing the volunteer recruitment (ages 18 and older; volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult) for Thursdays from 9:00am to 1:00pm. For more information and to sign up, visit the Hope’s Corner website.

Hopes Corner shower volunteersHope’s Corner offers showers on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Case workers from Community Services Agency are also present at these times to meet with shower guests and connect them to other services. An informal survey found that for almost half of the people who use the showers, Hope’s Corner is their only option for getting a shower. These guests greatly appreciate the opportunity to safely shower, which contributes to their comfort, health, and self-esteem.

New Habitat for Humanity Build Dates

Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon ValleyHabitat for Humanity has announced a few more work days for the All-Faiths team at the Delmas House in San Jose. Volunteers ages 16 and up are needed for July 16, August 13 and October 22. Please use the links below to sign up.

July 16

August 13

October 22

If you have a group interested in scheduling a Saturday painting day during the summer, please contact Don Varney.

Invitation to Ramadan Dinner, June 27

The LAUMC Bold Service and Social Justice (BSSJ) Practice Committee invites you to participate in a Ramadan iftar (fast-breaking) dinner that we have been invited to host on Monday, June 27, at 8:30pm in Creekside Center. The Pacifica Institute, with support from BSSJ, will provide a delicious dinner and an opportunity for up to 100 people to build Christian-Muslim relationships and understanding. To sign up, contact Kathy Nahman by June 20.

The BSSJ has started several multifaith outreach and education initiatives recently, and through that work has built a relationship with the Pacifica Institute, a group of predominantly Turkish-American Muslims working for interfaith understanding. Contact Kathy Nahman with any questions.

Book Drive for African Library Project

Los Altos UMC’s Bold Service and Social Justice Committee is sponsoring a book drive in partnership with the African Library Project. The African Library Project changes lives by starting libraries in rural Africa that serve to improve literacy, education, and self-empowerment. Our book collection efforts will support a new library in Malawi, where most people make their living through subsistence farming and education is considered a luxury. Most people do not read regularly because there is little available to read. Books are rare, and little is published in the local languages. Students are eager for English reading materials, as they must pass highly competitive exams conducted in English in order to enter secondary school.

Book drive collection boxes will be available outside the Sanctuary and Creekside May 8–22. Our goal is to collect 1,000 books – gently used ones are fine! Here are some of the types of books needed:

  • Baby board books
  • Paperback children’s picture books
  • Paperback easy readers
  • Paperback juvenile literature/Chapter books
  • K–8 textbooks (English, math, geography, and science)
  • Encyclopedias & atlases (post-1990)
  • Paperback dictionaries

You can also participate by contributing to the cost of shipping the books, estimated to be $500. Checks can be made payable to LAUMC with “African Library Project” in the memo line.

For more information, contact Janice Maggiora (650-857-0454).