Tomorrow begins the most important week of the Christian year, Holy Week. I know you have already received the schedule of the week’s services. I always urge people to attend as many of these services as possible to hear the whole drama of the week, and to enhance the Easter celebration. But I also want to echo Bob and especially encourage you to come to the Good Friday service, with Bishop Wright officiating and preaching. In mid-February, when I thought I would be back for Sundays, I asked Rob if he could come sometime during Holy Week, and he immediately agreed to come Good Friday.
After Joe’s funeral, Bob told me he had lined up guest preachers/celebrants through Easter. My first reaction was that was unnecessary, that I would be back well before then. But Bob was wiser than me; I have needed this time away. It would be very difficult to come back to lead the emotional services of Holy Week and Easter. I do plan to be there, sitting in the pew for all the services. I am very grateful to Maggie, Deborah, Bill, and the bishop for making that possible. I will be back in the office the week after Easter. My first Sunday back will be April 16.
Now switching gears to outreach — for many years our “hands on” outreach was focused on Family Promise, opening the church to be home for families who had no home, for four weeks a year. We ended that partnership in 2021, when Family Promise refused to make vaccines mandatory for those participating in the program. We felt that was unfair to our volunteers and to the participants. Since then we have been looking for another hands on opportunity to help our neighbors. We have found one with the refugee resettlement agency, New American Pathways. Read below to see how you may help. If we have enough interest we will move ahead with this.
If you are interested in hands-on volunteering, we may have just the opportunity for you.
A few years back St. Dunstan’s partnered with New American Pathways to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. This partnership was very successful, and the family has since achieved American Citizenship. Now we have another opportunity to partner with New American Pathways in a new endeavor called the Family Friend Program.
If St. Dunstan’s can gather enough hands-on volunteers, we would be partnered with a new refugee family and help support them for a minimum of six months. All refugee families have completed a Homeland Security Screening process and will likely live in the Clarkston area.
To participate, we are requiring our volunteers to be fully vaccinated for COVID 19. New American Pathways will pair us with a refugee family that is fully vaccinated.
Requirements for our volunteers include two “English at Home” orientation sessions (one for an hour and one for 90 minutes). We are asking those to be held at our church. Volunteers who will have any direct contact with the refugee family must also pass a simple background check.
Two categories of volunteers are needed: 1) Direct Service Volunteers, and 2) Support Service Volunteers. Examples of roles are described below. Volunteers may choose to work in one or both volunteer categories.
DIRECT SERVICE VOLUNTEERS
A minimum of eight direct service volunteers are needed to:
1. Build a relationship with the family and offer guidance as needed.
2. Help family members practice English at least two hours per week.
3. Assist children with school homework and social skills.
4. Coach adults in the family for job readiness and career mentoring.
5. Reinforce budget mindfulness and financial literacy.
6. Help with transportation to appointments.
7. Help the family understand how to use MARTA, if needed.
A scheduled direct service visit with the family is required for a minimum of two hours weekly. Direct service volunteers will sign up for their preferred visits on Sign-Up Genius.
SUPPORT SERVICE VOLUNTEERS
We will need as many volunteers as we can get to perform one-time tasks or be available during the six months of partnership with a family to perform several support service tasks as needed, including:
1. Build a familiar relationship with the family and offer guidance when needed.
2. Prepare a welcome basket for the family.
3. Collect furniture and household items to stock an apartment for the family.
4. Stock the pantry at least once with culturally appropriate food.
5. Assist with obtaining appropriate seasonal clothing.
6. Help with transportation to appointments.
St. Dunstan’s has some money in the 2023 budget to use for furnishings, filling the pantry and supplies. Volunteers, however, will need to solicit and obtain as many free items as possible.
Your response to this email will determine if St. Dunstan’s has the capacity to sustain our involvement in the Family Friend Program. Please review the roles above and indicate your interest in volunteering in direct services, support services, or both. Once we have volunteers in place and the program is about to begin you will have the opportunity to sign up for specific tasks on Sign-Up Genius.
Please reply with your involvement level to Vivian Siggers, our junior warden and outreach chair, within one week’s time. Include your name, email address and phone number. If you have questions, you may reach out to the church office for Vivian’s contact info.
I look forward to seeing you next week.