What are we doing here, anyway? Here's our story...
In 2000, Orangethorpe United Methodist Church (OUMC) was a founding member of the West Fullerton Improvement Committee (WFIC), whose mission was:
To strengthen families and the community of West Fullerton with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention by bringing service access and delivery to high risk families.
Early on, it was determined by WFIC members that hunger and malnutrition were a significant threat to the well-being of families in our neighborhood. Ever since 1993, another WFIC participant, Orangethorpe Christian Church (OCC), had sponsored weekly dinners which attracted well over 100 people each Monday evening. But something more was needed. Through its membership in the WFIC, OUMC agreed to use its facility for a monthly food distribution program which began in 2002.
As the food distribution program progressed, Pastora Teresa Santillana recognized the importance of the ministry to our mostly Latino neighborhood, so it was appropriate that OUMC's Latino Ministry take over responsibility for supervising the program. (Read Pastora Teresa's comments on this development in the July 2005 issue of La Red.)
When he became our Latino Minister in 2007, Pastor Sergio Camacho reaffirmed the need to continue our participation in the ministry. Over the years, we have been blessed by the leadership of María Rojo, Paco Zúñiga, Giovanni González, and Tommy Appleton, who have served as coordinators. In November 2012, Roberto Navarro was named coordinator.
OUMC, as organization of record, contracts with Second Harvest Food Bank (SHFB) to deliver a truckload of food from SHFB's warehouse to the OUMC parking lot. Members of our Latino and Anglo congregations, plus other friends and volunteers, organize the distribution of this food to our neighbors in need. At each distribution, more than 100 families receive fresh produce, canned goods, and a variety of packaged groceries. (See our statistics.)
One delivery each month is paid for through the generosity of employees of St. Jude Medical Center, yet another WFIC participant. From January 2009 through August 2010, a second monthly delivery was paid for by Eastside Christian Church. It is now being sponsored by OUMC, thanks to a generous donation by Griswold Industries.
About 15 volunteers are required to help OUMC's Latino and Anglo members distribute food. Various St. Jude departments supply volunteer workers several times a year. Volunteer groups also come from other churches, youth groups, and community organizations. Even if no group is scheduled, there's never a lack of people willing to lend a helping hand.
In the news! The Fullerton Observer printed an excellent article in its March 2009 issue, by our own Carol Van Ahlers. Elsewhere in the same issue, was another article, Helping Fullerton's Homeless, by Tracy Wood, which mentions Second Harvest and other organizations who reach out to the least fortunate people in our city. A video of a distribution is available on the internet:
Would you like to help? Could you and your friends, or organization, come and unload the truck and hand out the food? If you're interested, please check our schedule to see what dates are available, then call the OUMC office (714.526.8317) and leave your name and phone number!
What's happening now? We hear from lots of people that they're out of work, or have lost their homes or jobs. In September 2008, the numbers of people coming for food increased dramatically. Since then, we've had several Saturdays when we've distributed food to more than 200 families.
In 2012, we felt the need for an additional food ministry. Pastor Sergio and several of his parishioners started taking home-cooked breakfasts to homeless people under the freeway bridges and in the parks of our neighborhood every Sunday. When the numbers of people being served increased, we began serving breakfast in our church's Fellowship Hall. Some of the food we receive from Second Harvest on Saturday is served for breakfast the next day. This ministry is now known as Agape Café.
Please visit the food distribution photo page at our church's web site to see pictures we took on some typical Saturdays.
OUMC's Latino ministry will continue regular food distributions as long as they are needed. We believe this is a valuable outreach to our community in which we are truly living up to OUMC's mission:
Jesus said, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me... Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." -- Matthew 25:35, 40.
The information on this page is available at 2h.92833.org and is updated regularly.
Nuestro jefe Roberto
Second Harvest truck