How can I help?
“How can I help?” That’s the question so many of you have been asking.
St. John’s is such a caring community. Our forced isolation seems only to have heightened our desire to be God’s hands in the world. Unfortunately, we can’t safely offer our own hands right now. But there are still meaningful things we can do.
St. John’s Outreach has been working closely with Pilar Moya of Housing Help and Willie Perez of the Huntington Light of Salvation Church to provide immediate relief to 15 families in Huntington Station who have been particularly hard hit. We have committed to providing Community Market grocery cards to these families for the next two months, to be distributed along with food from the Salvation Army and other sources. Pilar has been counseling each family about how to manage their rent obligations (fortunately there is an eviction moratorium in place) and Willie and other local pastors are offering emotional and spiritual support. By working with local legislators, Pilar has also arranged for drive-by Covid-19 testing. It has been an inspiration (and education) to witness what these selfless and creative leaders have accomplished. By pooling our collective resources they have been able to offer direct relief to our neighbors in need.
I want to share a bit about the families we are now joined with, some of whom I “met” (from a safe distance) when I accompanied Pilar on her rounds last week. Here are a few of their stories:
- Family A: Mom, sister, dad, and 4 children between the ages of 2-6. Mom and her sister are temporarily unemployed, laid off from their cleaning jobs. Dad has been laid off from his construction job. Dad hopes to return to work next week. There are 4 children between the ages of 2-6 in the household. Need help with food and expenses.
- Family B: Pregnant mom and dad with a 2 year old son. Mom is temporarily unemployed - has lost all her cleaning jobs. Dad works in landscaping but is currently unemployed. Mom has asthma and is at-risk. Son has a fever. All three live in one room in a house and share a bathroom with 2 other tenants. Two other tenants have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Need help with food and expenses.
- Family C: Mom, Dad, 2 grandparents, 6 children between the ages of 4 and 25. Dad works in construction but is underemployed. Mom is home taking care of the kids and the 2 seniors. Mom, dad, grandparents are sick with fever. Older son is working at Wendy’s, but his hours were just cut to 2 days a week. Need help with food and expenses.
Many of our families are single mom households, with mom now unemployed due to the shutdown. They are all hoping to get back to work as soon as possible, but need a leg up in the meantime.
All of these families are afraid - of losing their jobs permanently, of not being able to pay their rent, of not being able to provide for their families, of getting sick. And all of them are grateful - for the help we are offering, for our solidarity, and for our prayers. I am most struck by their desire to get back on their feet, their hope for the future, and their gratitude for every blessing.
So, going back to the initial question: “How can I help?”
As a St. John’s parishioner, you already are. We will continue to look for Outreach opportunities as all this unfolds, and will keep you informed as needs arise. As always, we welcome your ideas and any resources you can share.
St. John’s Outreach Chair
Outreach Steering Committee:
Mary Gay Townsend