Message from Fr. Mawethu Ncaca
On the church calendar, January is designated as “Outreach” month, a time to inform others about the work of Outreach by St. John’s. Please join us at the coffee hour on January 14th and 21st to learn more about our efforts. Instead of providing for you a table of sweets and snacks after church, we ask YOU to load our tables with items needed by our local food pantry, TAM*. Grab a cup of coffee and join members of the Outreach Committee at tables to hear the stories of those who cross our paths each week at the following venues.
The Outreach efforts at St. John’s target several areas in our community, specifically food insecurity and affordable housing. Our primary focus is to develop personal relationships with the town residents and the workers associated with the following organizations. These outreach opportunities also depend on volunteer and financial support from our parishioners.
- Wake Forest Community Table (WFCT), a nonprofit organization that provides hot meals, produce and personal/household supplies to the residents of the northeast area of Wake Forest at Hope House on Mondays and Olive Branch Baptist Church on Wednesdays.
- Tri-Area Ministry (TAM) Food Pantry provides food and personal hygiene products to community families in need.
- Habitat for Humanity provides home-ownership opportunities for needy families and works to preserve existing affordable homes.
- Northeast Community Coalition is a resident-led organization that meets monthly, develops resident leaders and supports resident advocacy. The organization maintains a community garden which supplies vegetables to WFCT and welcomes volunteers from St. John’s.
- Church Net has faithfully served the individuals in the Wake Forest, Youngsville and Rolesville communities by providing supplemental assistance for people struggling to pay utility costs and prescription medicine costs https://churchnetfoundation.net/about-us/
- A MLK Scholarship is provided each year to a student from Friendship Chapel Baptist Church in Wake Forest.
- St. John’s Leadership Academy is more than a just a place of learning and growing. It is a community where people come to share their lives and be in a holistic and inclusive space. https://www.sjla.co.za/
- A Ukrainian Family, displaced by war, is supported with groceries and attending St. John’s.
Most of these organizations welcome and often depend on volunteers from St. John’s. The eNews has links to sign-up opportunities. The Outreach Committee at St. John’s meets monthly, with every other meeting intended to welcome anyone who may have an interest in the outreach work. Our next open meeting is scheduled for February 20, 2024 (time to be determined – check the eNews for updates).
Wake Forest Community Table – Ann Van Cleave
The Oxford Language Dictionary offers this definition of community, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals.” It is that feeling of fellowship which draws me to volunteer with Wake Forest Community Table.
On Monday nights at Hope House and Wednesday nights at Olive Branch Baptist Church we gather with our Northeast Community neighbors, serve a delicious meal and occasionally have items such as diapers, personal hygiene items and household products available that have been donated. The best part of the evening is the time spent talking with and getting to know the folks who come each week and those who stop by occasionally. We check in with Ricardo and Angel on how school is going (both these boys came to St. John’s Music Camp this past summer), we make sure their school bus driver has a hot meal to take home, we make sure Gwen has the meals she needs to deliver to those in the neighborhood who are shut-ins, we trade books and puzzles. We hear about difficulties being faced such as illnesses, bills, rent, but we also hear about grandchildren being born, trips to visit family, a good report card, a football game won, or a new job. We hear these things because we listen and understand that we are not the “haves” handing out to the “have nots”, we are neighbors caring for and supporting our neighbors!
I am always happy when I drive down East Juniper on my way to run errands and am able to wave and stop and chat with neighbors, I have gotten to know over the last 2 ½ years by volunteering with WFCT.
Growing up I witnessed the example set by my parents and grandparents of always being mindful of the needs of those around us by actively engaging with their time, talent and treasure doing what they could do, with what they had, where they were, to help alleviate food insecurity in our community. I am still inspired by 97-year-old father, who is still busy serving how he is able, with his church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal (Greensboro N.C.,) numerous civic organizations as well as his greatest passion of promoting the work of The Food Bank of Northwest NC.
In 1987, when my oldest daughter was in first grade at Rolesville Elementary, she came home one afternoon & told me about one of the children in her class that had expressed that he did not have food in his home over the weekend. In talking to the teacher, I learned that indeed the child left school on Friday and many times had very little to nothing to eat over the weekend. The teacher told me she did all she could for the child during the week, ensuring the child received the school provided breakfast & lunch as well as purchasing out of her own pocket a supply of nutritious snacks to keep in the classroom so that no child would go without at “break time”. I did what I could do, with what I had, where I was, by donating monthly to the classroom snack supply.
Northeast Wake BackPack Buddies (NEWBpB) is an organization started in 2006 to provide weekend food bags to area school children identified as food insecure by teachers and counselors. In 2016, NEWBpB needed some additional space to serve the growing need in our area. Joy Shillingsburg with St. John’s leadership approval partnered with NEWBpB to provide food pantry space in the lower level of the education building. When Joy asked if I would prayerfully consider managing the BpB Outreach Ministry at St. John’s, my mind immediately went to the the child from my daughter’s first grade class and what a difference the weekly weekend food bag could have made in their life. For over 7 years, with no shortage of St. John’s volunteers, food supplies were transported to the church pantry (shout out to my wonderful husband Tom!), and on average 100 bags a week were packed & delivered to 2 area schools. In 2023 pantry space at St. John’s was no longer needed as NEWBpB was able to secure adequate space to operate under one roof. Currently, NEWBpB is providing over 1800 food bags weekly to school children in 17 area schools. Find out how you can get involved -newbackbackbuddies.org.
Tri-Area Ministry (TAM) Food Pantry was founded in 1988 as a non-denominational, volunteer run organization with a mission to provide for food insecure citizens in our area. TAM serves over 1200 plus clients a month from its location 149E Holding Ave Wake Forest. Since its inception St. John’s has supported the ministry with monetary and non-perishable food donations. A donation cart is located in the narthex for NON-PERISHABLE food donations (please NO glass containers or expired dates). Also needed are clean, empty egg crates to package & distribute fresh eggs that are donated. The donation cart is delivered weekly by St. John’s volunteers. More Info- triareaministry.com
Housing & the Northeast Community – Ken Marsh
St. John’s has an amazing history in housing development and with the Northeast Community. After you read the summary below — if you’re intrigued with what our collective Outreach Team works — please feel free to join us for an “open to all” Outreach Team Meeting (every other month) starting on February 20th, Tuesday, 3PM, in the Parish Hall to learn more. Below is a summary of our housing efforts for the past several years.
- For starters St. John’s has a rich history in working with Habitat for Humanity – Northeast Coalition, a group of Churches in Wake Forest supporting the Northeast Community for affordable housing. Historically, for many years, St. John’s has worked on building homes in the Northeast Community of Wake Forest. At this time there is not any affordable property for Wake County Habitat to buy and build new homes in Wake Forest. Therefore, Habitat has been rehabbing existing houses in the Northeast Community. St. John’s was recently involved in a large Habitat housing development in South Raleigh consisting of over 100 Habitat for Humanity homes being built off Old Poole Road in Raleigh. It is truly an amazing project to see so many multi-faith churches in Wake County involved in this effort. We may do another work request in the Spring for the South Raleigh area. We are actively exploring Habitat other options for the Northeast Community of Wake Forest.
- Several members of the St. John’s Outreach Committee actively attends a monthly Northeast Community Coalition to hear the needs and learn about the exciting things happening in this community. Affordable housing is an area they give special attention to with Habitat for Humanity. Annually this group also holds a day long Juneteenth activity bringing the broader community of Wake Forest together.
- Most of you know, several years ago, St. John’s was involved with Wellington Park alongside ONE Wake and other community churches in which the park property was sold and closed down. Because of our advocacy and work of love, with support from the Town of Wake Forest and other partners, we were able to get 40 families relocated with money in helping them find new places to live and St. John’s provided weekly meals until everyone got into new housing. This congregation really stepped up. Affordable housing, for low income families, in the area is almost impossible to find.
- This past year, St. John’s helped two families with children get relocated into low income housing because of community relationships, this congregation, and the grace of God opening doors for which had not been available. Both families are now in better situations than they were living before because of our congregation’s love and support.
- Looking forward, St. John’s is concerned about affordable housing in the Wake Forest area and protection of the Northeast Community, ensuring its rich history is preserved. St. John’s is exploring options of working with other Wake Forest Community Churches on this topic as well as engaging our own Diocese. This year at the Diocese Annual Convention there was a resolution for the General Convention to study affordable housing from a national perspective to learn what other Dioceses are doing. Our own Diocese has a committee on affordable housing to learn what other churches in this Diocese are doing. This effort at the Diocese has clearly captured our attention at St. John’s to have further discussion.
- As we continue to work on housing, if this is something you are interested in, please reach out to any members of the Outreach Team.
- The Outreach Team would like to recognize and say a special thank you to members of our congregation that have helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, (recognizing we may have missed someone – if we have, we apologize) Thank you to: Kenille Baumgardner, David Bennett, Tori Bennett, David Bland, Ken Christie, Court Crosby, Monica Dykeman, Peter Dykeman, Bob Hill, Jane Hill, Helen Holt, Gail Marsh, Ken Marsh, Bill McClain, Kevin O’Donnell, Joe Paulonis, Mynn Paige, Sarah Phelps, Branson Prosser, Dylan Prosser, Stephanie Rogers, Tim Shail, Finian Shail, Joy Shillingsburg, Steve Shillingsburg, Mike Visgauss, Sloan Walkup and Daniel Warriner.