Central AB Local Initiatives
As we look back on the year that took us by surprise and continues to affect so many emotionally and financially and physically, I am grateful for the faithfulness of God for He has also surprised us as a congregation and our partners with new opportunities to serve Him; bringing His LOVE and HOPE into places where it is needed most.
Our local partner organizations have demonstrated amazing adaptability during this past year. They have responded in creative ways to meet both the needs of our community that were present before the pandemic, and also those that arose because of it.
Hope Mission afterschool programs (Kids/Youth In Action) were jam packed pre-Covid with hundreds of students. Once schools were closed, due to existing relationships, Hope staff were welcomed onto the front steps and lawns of students and families. (Specific doorstep photos) Reaching out with friendship, and providing space and time to strengthen those relationships with kids and parents who were hungry to connect, they became aware of deeper needs in these homes and were therefore also able to provide nutritional, spiritual and emotional support.
“It makes me feel happy and safe in some kind of way because I know that there’s adults here to help me” -Red Deer Kids In Action participant
The Outreach Centre
The Outreach Centre serves adults and children in our community affected by domestic abuse, and provides suicide intervention and support to those impacted by suicide. When we went into lockdown, the Centre was well prepared for the fallout of COVID stressors. They know that domestic violence thrives in isolation. With job losses, increased financial pressure and fewer community connections, the situation remains ripe for increased domestic distress resulting in a greater demand for this organization’s services. With skill and compassion, they offer guidance and support to those on the path towards healthy relationships with others and with themselves.
“Upon coming into the Centre it makes me feel like there is hope for others as well as myself”
Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre
The Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre and Maternity Home provides information and support for women, men and families impacted by pregnancy as well as providing stable housing for women and babies. They faced unique challenges during the COVID lockdown as they are classified as a care facility; visitors could no longer enter. CAPCC staff rose to the occasion, encouraging innovative ways of doing life together. New babes were born bringing much joy, and the staff and residents of CAPCC say they have never felt so cared for and supported by the Christian community as they have during these last 8 months. They report that they have been so blessed by new and long term individual supporters calling to see how they are doing, and providing financial and prayer support.
“I was so lucky to be chosen to live in the Maternity home for the duration of my pregnancy. I was able to live in a safe and loving environment where I could learn life skills that I still use today” -CAPCC Client
In March, a massive opportunity emerged for us as a congregation to meet an urgent need in our city. When schools closed suddenly to stop the spread of COVID-19, hundreds of children in our city were left without the many positive aspects that school attendance brings. In addition to socializing with peers, classroom instruction and daily routine, the nutrition that many students and families were reliant upon, in the form of breakfast programs, lunches and food that they could take home for the weekend, ended abruptly.
What God brought about and allowed us to be a part of turned out to be the most impactful service that CrossRoads Church has had within our school population. During a time when many of our direct serving avenues were shut down, the door to provide nutrition directly to families in need was flung wide open. Likewise, opportunities also opened in the schools. Going into this, we had working relationships with 4 schools; coming out the other side we had relationships with 23 schools. This includes Glendale Science and Technology School who recognized CrossRoads Church with this years’ Partners in Education Volunteer Appreciation Award for the broad scope of support we provided over the year.
The number of you that donated groceries remains unknown but the generosity of God’s people astounded our school social workers and administrations. Close to 200 CrossRoads people were involved in the packing and delivering of some 500 care packages from March to June. Hope in a box! I continue to hear from school social workers about the gratefulness of the families who received these care packages. What a blessing to be able to show love and care for our neighbours and schools in such a practical way while spreading hope in our community.
“This couple was overwhelmed and wanted to pass on their deep gratitude. We prayed with them and they shared a bit of their story” -CrossRoads deliverers
Some may say that the crisis has passed, but for some it continues with day-to-day challenges. In Local Initiatives and in our partner organizations, we listen, we watch, we learn and we continue to respond. It is our desire to both serve and live well into a future that continues to be in need of HOPE and LOVE.
Written by Laurie Whitaker