EDF makes first grants to congregations for COVID-19 humanitarian relief in US communities




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Brethren Disaster Ministries is directing the first round of grants from the Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) to congregations carrying out pandemic-related humanitarian relief work in their communities. The new COVID-19 Pandemic Grants program began in late April and provides grants to Church of the Brethren congregations and districts in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The following grants were approved as of May 26, totaling $58,100:

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Brook Park (Ohio) Community Church of the Brethren received $5,000 for its Audrey’s Outreach food pantry and food “give-aways” program serving central and western Cuyahoga County. It includes a twice-a-week food give-away, summer lunch program, monthly senior’s hot meal, and quarterly community meal. Previously it served 700 to 800 families a month but in April that number increased to 1,375 families, with 475 families as first-time clients. The church also has started delivering food to high-risk people at their homes. This grant will help serve these extra families and the additional children expected for the summer lunch program.

Centro Agape en Acción, a church in the Church of the Brethren’s Pacific Southwest District received $5,000. Members are either unemployed or employed but working few hours due to COVID-19. The grant will enable the church to assist some families with food, rent, and medical bills, and provide a dinner once per week to families who drive up to the church to receive it. Elderly people will have their meals delivered to them.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, Miami, Fla., received $5,000. Many members of the church and community members have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The number of people coming to the church’s twice-weekly food pantry has more than doubled. This grant will help provide food for the pantry as well as special assistance to some of the church members for food, rent, utilities, cleaning supplies, and other needs.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, West Palm Beach, Fla., received $5,000. The church serves a community of mostly service workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19. The grant will help purchase food and household cleaning and hygiene materials to distribute to members and the community once per week.

Iglesia Cristiana Elohim, located in Nevada and part of Pacific Southwest District, received $5,000. The church serves the Hispanic community in Las Vegas, most of whom have lost their jobs as service workers. This grant will assist families with food, rent, and other expenses.

Iglesia de Cristo Sion Church of the Brethren in Pomona, Calif., received $5,000. Most of the congregation and members of the community are unemployed due to COVID-19. The grant will help provide food, rent, medicines, and hygiene supplies for distribution to church members and community members.

Nueva Vision la Hermosa in Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area in Stanislaus County, Calif., is part of Pacific Southwest District. It received $5,000. Church and community members who are agricultural workers have been laid off due to COVID-19. The grant will help families pay for food, rent, and utilities.

Príncipe de Paz Church of the Brethren in Anaheim, Calif., received $5,000. The church is located Orange County, Calif., which has a high cost of living and high unemployment among church members and the local community due to COVID-19. The church has seen a rapid increase in the numbers of people coming to its food pantry. The grant will help expand capacity to provide for these additional people.

Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren received $4,000. The community in and around Ephrata has many people who are unemployed because of COVID-19 restrictions. The church has recently been partnering with a local group that participates in the Power Packs Program that previously served families with children who received free meals at school. The program is now open to anyone and distributes food once a week. The grant will help with the increased need, calculated at $500 a week. 

Sebring (Fla.) Church of the Brethren received $4,000. The church is located in Highlands County, one of the poorest counties in Florida that, due to COVID-19, has a lot of unemployment as well as many older adults who are having difficulty finding food resources. In April, the church started offering a hot meal once a week for anyone who needed it, and the numbers of people showing up have increased each week. The church also offers a food bank once per week. The grant will supplement the funds provided by the church for these programs.

Eglise des Freres Haitiens Church of the Brethren, Orlando, Fla., received $3,000. The pastor and church leaders have been assisting church and community members who are out of work due to COVID-19 with food and money. This grant will help the church provide monetary assistance to families to purchase their own supplies.

County Line Church of the Brethren, which is located in the rural, low-income Westmoreland County, Pa., received $2,500. Many members of the church and community are elderly and low-income. Others are not able to work or they operate small businesses that had to close down due to COVID-19 restrictions. The grant will help the church distribute food and household items to those in need and will support the church with office supplies to communicate with their members and to advertise their activities.

Tabernacle the Restoration located in Broward County in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., and a part of Atlantic Southeast District, received $2,500. The pastor and many members of the church are unemployed due to COVID-19. The church already had begun providing food distributions and this grant will enable the church to add another day of food distributions as well as provide some cleaning and hygiene supplies. The pastor is delivering food and supplies to members who do not drive.

TurnPointe Community Church of the Brethren that is part of South/Central Indiana District received $2,100. This small congregation has for many years offered a weekly food pantry and a daycare center that serves many low-income families. This grant will help restock the food pantry and help the daycare purchase supplies needed to comply with pandemic safety regulations.

Brethren Disaster Ministries staff shared selected responses to a question on the grant application asking about anticipated long-term effects of the grant on the church and its community, including examples of how even a small church can make a big impact. Here are a few of the responses:

“The long term impact we are expecting is to be known as a church who was able to use its resources to provide both spiritual and physical assistance to better our community during this pandemic period.”

“Families will stay healthy and it will be a testimony for the church in the community, showing God’s love in action.”

“Families that are in need will have food provided to them. Relationships are being built between these families and our church. These individuals are coming onto our church property, seeing smiling/caring faces, receiving food to feed their children, and having a positive connection to our church. Our prayer is that we are able to continually share God’s love for these families as they continue to have some of their basic needs met.”

“The purpose as a Church is to keep families in their safe and healthy homes until they can return to their jobs, with trust in God, showing that they are not alone! It is a way of teaching that the church is not only to receive, but also what we can help in times of crisis.”

“This program will show people that churches are compassionate and hopefully bring some of them back to church. This program will let people know that asking for help is not something to be ashamed of or to be afraid to ask for assistance.”

More information about the grant program, including applications, can be found at https://covid19.brethren.org/grants or by contacting bdm@brethren.org . To give to this program go to www.brethren.org/edf .

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