By Andrea Kamouyerou, Director of Engagement
2020 sure has been a year like no other! In more ways than we can count, plans were changed, lives disrupted, holidays were re-imagined, and a “new normal” was created. While we have all been impacted in so many ways by COVID-19 this year, the one constant we can all rely on, no matter what, is the love of God for each of us. I hope this year has shown you that God loves you in the big details as well as the small, in the large displays of generosity down to the phone call or text from a friend just checking in. It is out of this assurance of God’s abundant love and provision for us that we as the St. Paul’s community have given abundantly this year to support our neighbors in need.
Over the course of this year, St. Paul’s has made three large disbursements of funds to organizations focused on meeting the food and housing insecurity needs in and around Pittsburgh that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. In addition to the organizations listed out in more detail at the end of this email, we have supported the following organizations out of our Outreach and COVID-19 Funds:
Trinity Walk-In Ministry
Casa San Jose
St. John Carnegie Food Program
South Hills Food Pantry
Meals on Wheels at the Crossroads
412 Food Rescue
Severe Weather Emergency Shelter
KDKA Turkey Fund
And don’t even get me started on Angel Tree…. The Angel Tree tags well over doubled last year’s amount, with recipient organizations focused on low-income and housing-insecure children and their families. With just around 700 individual gifts donated, our estimate for the total financial amount given via the Angel Tree gifts is around $14,000.It is unbelievable!!!
Totaling all of our financial and in-kind donations, this year we have given over $70,000 to support our community members in need.
I am so humbled to get to work at a job where I am a first-hand witness to the selfless giving and generosity of spirit that exists at St. Paul’s. The vision of our Outreach efforts remains to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and love our neighbor. Thank you to everyone who donated, pledged, prayed, or in any other way supported this mission!
Summary of 2020 Year-End Distributions
Christ Episcopal Church, Bluefield - Kerosene Ministry: $2,500
Christ Episcopal Church in Bluefield, WV runs a food pantry at the church. They are also the only pantry in town that also provides kerosene, which serves as heating fuel to homes throughout the winter months for many who live in the area. The church is operating the kerosene program for 5 months this year, and St. Paul’s is supporting that essential ministry with a gift of $500 for each month of the program.
Hosanna Industries: $2,000
Hosanna Industries was founded in 1990 as a faith-rooted, non-profit mission whose work involves a variety of charitable initiatives aimed at helping our impoverished neighbors. Mission workers at Hosanna Industries build and repair homes for needy households; mobilize relief workers to areas of disaster; teach and lead workshops in art and spirituality; train young people in construction skills; and lead volunteers of all ages. Hosanna relies on donations to help hundreds of needy neighbors per year. This year, specifically, with the supply chain interruptions and circumstances constantly changing due to the pandemic, Hosanna Industries is experiencing unusual increases in the costs of many of the building materials.
Bethlehem Haven: $2,000
Bethlehem Haven, located in downtown Pittsburgh, provides shelter and supportive services to thousands of homeless women. The continuum of care consists of a range of housing and supportive services designed to enable each woman to identify her needs, develop a plan of action, and achieve a successful outcome.
Severe Weather Emergency Shelter Support: $1,500
In 2016, Operation Safety Net organized the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) to expand its homeless outreach. The shelter is housed at the Smithfield United Church of Christ downtown and is open every night from November 15 to March 15. The shelter not only provides a warm meal and a bed for those at risk of freezing on the streets, but also serves as a place where people can connect with resources available to them around the city. St. Paul’s parishioners have greatly helped this effort in years passed by providing meatloaves and serving meals. Due to COVID-19, the shelter has partnered with an organization to provide meals, and continues to provide a safe place to stay during this tumultuous time.
Youth Mission Trip: $1,500
Since 2012, our youth have served with ministries in Mercer and McDowell Counties in West Virginia. Projects range from home repair to hunger initiatives, all coordinated by local individuals and organizations. Our youth and chaperones spend a week living in community and working on a variety of sites. These trips mark significant times of spiritual growth for our youth, as well as strengthen our relationship with this region in need.
Jeremiah’s Place: $1,000
Jeremiah’s Place, Pittsburgh’s only crisis nursery, provides emergency care for children ages 0-6 for a few hours or a few days based on the needs of the family. Co-founded by one of our parishioners, the primary focus at Jeremiah’s place is to keep children safe and to provide a safe and supportive solution for families in need. Jeremiah’s Place is conveniently located in the East Liberty section of Pittsburgh and is staffed by trauma-informed caregivers and social workers. All services provided by Jeremiah’s Place are free, available 24 hours a day, and most importantly, judgment free.
Blessed Mustard Seed Babies’ Home: $1,000
For almost a decade, St. Paul’s has provided loving support to the babies, children, teenagers, and staff of the Blessed Mustard Seed Babies’ Home in Hoima, Uganda, This project was begun by an Anglican Bishop to help meet the need of the ongoing orphan crisis there. In addition to annual trips to Uganda, St. Paul's provides financial support to cover school fees, and medical and dental care, as well as clothing, school supplies, and craft materials.