February 11, 2021 | by Patricia Daughtery,Roberta Mori
Over twenty years ago, church youth of Sacramento´s First United Methodist Church (FUMC) initiated a Community Meal program with a desire to welcome and feed unhoused members of the community. Starting with two sit-down hot breakfasts a month, this ministry expanded to also include a monthly dinner. Filling the fellowship hall to capacity, guests even enjoyed dinner music while dining.
COVID changed all that last March. But Sacramento FUMC volunteers didn't skip a beat - nor did we skip a meal! In fact, we expanded our services to add weekly bagged lunches every Tuesday.
Hot breakfasts are still served the last two Sundays and a hot lunch the 3rd Tuesday - but “to go” instead of sit-down. Volunteers make hot breakfast burritos, soup, cold and hot sandwiches, baked goods and some even donate fresh fruit from their backyards. Monetary contributions have allowed us to provide gift cards to a grocery store, helping recipients make it through the week.
Our Prayer Shawl ministry volunteered to make hats and scarfs to keep unhoused guests warm during these cold winter months. The “Mom’s” group donated supplies for our feminine hygiene program. Volunteers held a community Coat Drive, collecting hundreds of coats and warm clothing that are being distributed along with the bagged meals.
At Christmas we gifted backpacks filled with personal items all donated by the FUMC congregation. Making use of our empty parking, we have partnered with SHowUp Sacramento. Six times a month from 8am to 12 noon, the mobile shower trailer pulls in into our parking lot to provide hot showers, hygiene kits and clean socks and underwear, along with our bagged lunches!
Our services have altered and grown even in these difficult times. And the kindness of our congregation continues to reach out to serve the needs of our community.