Thursday, October 26th, was a day of Celebration for the Faith Alliance and its partners. The organization’s 3rd annual dinner and meeting was sponsored by Hillandale Family of Communities, Saint Anne Episcopal and Crestview Presbyterian Church. Clergy, liaisons and volunteers from many Faith Alliance Church Partners attended in addition to community partner reps from Lakota Child Nutrition Department, Butler County Success, Caring Community Collaborative, Habitat for Humanity Cincinnati, Whiz Kids, and Family Promise of Butler County, among many others. Bonnie Greenwood, President of the Faith Alliance, reviewed 2017 fiscal status and 2018 budget and objectives for eliminating poverty and showing God’s love to our neighbors in need.
Representatives from the Stepping Forward Tuesday Night Dinner Program at Faith Community UMC and West Chester Presbyterian Community Suppers reported on people who have been personally impacted by these programs. Attendance is slightly down(that is a good thing), with still an average of 165 and 75 dinners respectively being provided weekly, showing there is still a tremendous need in our community. Together, more than 16,000 meals annually are offered with love by both of these wonderful programs supported by most of our Faith Alliance Church Partners.
Reports were given on Summer Lunch and Feed our Neighbors in Need Food Drive for 2017. Thanks to Lakota Child Nutrition, the USDA, several grantors(listed below), as well as 700 volunteers from 22 churches, 26 schools, community organizations, and private donors, these collaborative efforts provided more than 13,500 lunches to low-income children and more than 53,000 meals to local families served by food pantries supplied by the drive. God’s love was shown through activities and field trips offered after lunch at several of the lunch sites. Several hundred children and families benefited from these outreach activities and community partnerships.
Reach Out Lakota spoke of their gratefulness and how their clients have been impacted by our Backpack Ministry. This year, over 90% of all the children registered at Reach Out Lakota for assistance for their Back to School Program were helped by the Faith Alliance Help a Child in Need Succeed Backpack Ministry. This wonderful partnership between Reach Out Lakota, Faith Alliance and Hillandale Family of Communities helped more than 450 students have the supplies they need to have a successful school year. Praise God!
Butler County Success told of a family, one of many, who was recently helped by our network of churches. The family unexpectantly took custody of a foster infant. They had the heart to help yet did not have any baby supplies as their children were older. The family had no means to buy all the equipment necessary to take care of this infant on a moments notice. Just one email from Butler County Success to Faith Alliance and our wonderful network of Liaisons, and this family was well equipped with all kinds of baby equipment and clothing donated by people wanting to help. Our partnerships are making a huge difference in the lives of local families dealing with real-life issues.
The Faith Alliance Literacy advocate spoke of how 29 struggling young readers from low-income homes, were helped by our free Faith Alliance Summer Lunch Literacy Program. Most children attending held or improved their reading levels over the summer. Statistics show that many students from low-income families lose reading skill levels during the summer, but this program helped to avoid that loss and helped prepare these special children to be ready for the beginning of the school year.
Two Volunteer Angels of the Year were recognized by Faith Alliance at the end of the evening. Bobbie Turner, of Cornerstone UMC, and Kathy Tracy, of Saint Anne Episcopal Church, were given special awards for their outstanding and continued support of outreach programs and ministries serving those in need. Bobbie, the Faith Alliance liaison from Cornerstone UMC, has taken a leadership role as Coordinator at the Countryside Mobile Home Community Summer Lunch site. Bobbie also volunteers with Mission Possible churches in Monroe, to offer bussing and enrichment activities to these children served by Summer Lunch. She led the effort to make sun shelters and picnic tables for some of our lunch sites so that children did not have to eat on the ground and in blazing hot sun. Bobbie also designed the new universal SignUp Genius to recruit people to serve at Summer Lunch, resulting in a 40% increase in volunteers this year. Bobbie now serves on the Faith Alliance Programs Committee.
Kathy Tracy, the Faith Alliance liaison from Saint Anne Episcopal, was our second Angel of the Year, who has been a passionate servant for many years. Her forte is “food” and she has been intimately involved with making meals for Stepping Forward and West Chester Presbyterian Suppers families, as well as for our Celebration for the past 3 years, and also serving meals to homeless families in the Family Promise Program. Kathy served for 3 years on our Programs Committee as well as coordinated food for our Music Festival. She hosted all liaisons meetings in 2017, always bringing homemade goodies to share with her counterparts in service. We are so thankful for both Bobbie and Kathy and their continued dedication, leadership, and service to outreach programs and activities serving those in need.
The Faith Alliance is thankful for all the grantors who have made the above outreach programs and activities possible including The Community Foundation of WC/Liberty, The Presbytery of Cincinnati, The Catholic Mission Appeal Fund, The West Chester Liberty Rotary Club, The Caring Community Collaborative, Walmart Foundation, our Church Partners and individual donors. We are so thankful for the countless volunteers, many who go unrecognized, who have made partnered with us and made a difference in the lives of our neighbors who are struggling. YOU know who you are! We are so grateful for you, your servant hearts and hands!