As we approach the end of our Annual Campaign for pledges that will fund the Church in 2021, each of us should think about how a strong financial base empowers a Church to reach out to the community to fulfill the Gospel mission “not to be served but to serve.” Here are a couple of examples of what your contributions to St. Elisabeth’s have enabled us to do, from parishioners deeply committed to these outreach ministries.
We are part of a dedicated group of churches and synagogues that are committed to provide a hot meal and a sack lunch every single day of the year in Evanston for people in need. We believe that we are one of the longest serving churches. We are responsible for the second Thursday of every other month.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, that Thursday would be quite a busy day, as it requires our volunteers to shop, prepare lunches at St. Elisabeth’s, and prepare and serve dinner at Evanston’s First United Methodist Church. The pandemic has forced us and our partners to adopt a different approach. Rather than prepare dinners and lunches, we purchase prepared meals from a restaurant and pass them out in a safe setting, with masks and social distancing, for the diners to take home.
We rely on volunteers to prepare and serve the food – or these days to purchase and distribute the prepared meals – and generous donors to cover the costs of purchasing. In normal times approximately fifteen to twenty-five volunteers are required each time we do this mission. These days only two are required. One of the wonderful benefits of soup kitchen has been that our volunteers range from five or six years old to eighty or more years young and we all work together as a highly efficient, caring and jolly crew.
Family Promise provides free family shelter to both females and males – keeping families together during a time of homelessness. Almost all other homeless shelters separate families by female/male. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Family Promise continues to serve families in the shelter program, in the after-care program with former guests, in job training and in the diversion program with families on the verge of homelessness. Family Promise is currently working to find apartments in Evanston for all of the shelter families while they continue to screen new families. Family Promise is also still serving students in their remote learning pod at the Day Care Center and paying remote learning camp fees for some other students; all providing a safe way for students to be able to continue their education while parents are able to work.
Most of you know Family Promise because St. Elisabeth was one of the charter congregations that sponsored the organization 10 years ago. St. Elisabeth has been partnering with St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Wilmette where we help serve meals to families. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people one-on-one and have a good conversation while breaking bread. Because we lack the facilities to host families overnight, many St. Elisabeth members make food and serve it to the families staying overnight at St. Augustine. There has been average of three families, three adults and seven to eight children in the North Shore program of Family Promise 365 days of the year. The pandemic has forced Family Promise to shelter the families at their quarters in Evanston. There is a sign-up on line for the meals that is issued once per month. It has been very popular and sign-ups for the month are usually completed quickly.
Donations are needed for staffing and updated facilities. Funding is needed for Day Care updates, showers plus new staff as the need to provide housing has dramatically increased since March. Thank you for your support of Family Promise that makes all of this possible.
Lauren Edelston, Carrie Mygatt and Robert Fischer