One of our significant partners at B4Church is Safe Families, an organization that provides help to families in crisis by stepping alongside and helping so the parents can focus on the overwhelming issues with which they are grappling.
I received the following request, today (06/25/20)… Mom with two-month-old twins is needing a break and is asking for one overnight sometime in the next 1-4 days. She would also benefit from a host family that would be willing to be ongoing support. She lives in Beaverton. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if this is a possibility for your family.
Who is Safe Families? There are so many stories of changed lives because people of faith were willing to be interrupted in their lives to care for someone who is struggling. Safe Families creates space for us to do as the Good Samaritan did.
When crisis strikes — perhaps an illness, loss of a job, eviction, substance abuse, or so much more – some families in our community don’t have a supportive network to turn to. Sadly, as the parents struggle to cope with the crisis, their children are especially at risk. Safe Families for Children is a movement of compassion – compassion for both the parents and their kids.
Radical hospitality, Compassion fueled by mercy and disruptive generosity – the three objectives of Safe Families for Children are:
Keep children safe during a family crisis such as homelessness, hospitalization, or domestic violence in an effort to prevent child abuse and/or neglect.
Support, and stabilize families in crisis by surrounding them with caring, compassionate community.
Reunite families and reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system.
If you have interest in participating, please let Marlys know (email@example.com).
But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream. (Amos 5:24)
It’s hard to believe we have been under the shadow of Covid-19 for 3 months. When it was just beginning, when the school closed early for Spring Break, we wouldn’t have believed it would last this long, or that the changes we would see to our society would be as cataclysmic. In those days, we only knew that schools would be closed for an extra week and some of the kids at Barnes Elementary who depend on school lunch would face food scarcity. So we volunteered to make 120 sandwiches and deliver lunches to the kids homes. We lacked nothing. We shopped, we assembled, and we delivered.
Then the governor’s shelter-in-place order made it clear that this was going to be a bit longer than a couple of weeks. So we decided to make 50 family food boxes and deliver them to the families. But the need kept growing. People were losing service sector jobs. Many of the families we were serving do not have access to the state safety net. Within a week, it was 100 families. We started a food drive. We did more shopping. Then the school district approached us, “You can do things that we cannot. Would you serve another 200 families in the wider district?” Then 300. Then 500. Then 700. Then 1,400 families. Each time we were asked I said, “If we can, we will. We’re going to need more food.” We prayed that God would “multiply loaves and fishes” so that we could meet the need.
I reached out to other churches to see if any would assist us. We had more people from sister churches willing to serve than we had openings – friends from Colossae, Bethany Presbyterian, Cedar Mill Bible, Sunset Presbyterian, Parkside Fellowship, Saint John the Baptist and Beaverton Christian. Holy Trinity Food Pantry worked with the Oregon Food Bank to have us declared an emergency food distribution location. Within a week, we had 35,000 pounds of food delivered. The food drive continued to grow as the community heard about what we were doing and consistently filled in where we had gaps. Tyson donated 10,000 pounds of frozen chicken. Sysco donated 312,000 hard-boiled eggs. The school district staff assisted at every level of the work and delivered boxes to families all over the district. The business community helped, as well – companies like Franz Bakery, Grand Central Bakery, Walmart, Restaurant Depot, Portland Baking Company, New Seasons, Grocery Outlet, Winco and Costco.
The Beaverton School District food box partnership comes to a close this week as the official school year closes and the USDA Farm to Family food box program serves this population for the summer (we will be a distribution location at B4Church). And we will continue to serve about 200 families with assembled boxes through August. We want to celebrate what we did together over the past 13 week…
• 550 boxes/week
• 1,400+ families served in the community
• 18,000 pounds of food delivered each week
• 100,000+ items of food donated
• 130,000+ pounds food from Oregon Food Bank
• 350+ staff and volunteers from B4Church
• 8 partner churches
• 60+ volunteers from other churches
• 100+ volunteers from the Beaverton School District (packing + Delivery)
• 10,000 pounds of chicken
• 312,000 hardboiled eggs
• Total pounds of food: 234,000+
• Total number of families served: 1,400+
• Total number of volunteers 500+
That’s multiplication! If you had asked me to put together a program to feed 1,400 families out of limited church funds I would have been overwhelmed. I can be creative, I can initiate and can be organized, but I know a challenge when I see one. “For My yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30).” I was reminded by God that it was not my program. It was not anyone’s program. It was His. Because He sees people in need and does something. He is the God of love. And we are His people, privileged to serve.