NCS Wednesday Night Dinner Program
The Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter (NCS) East 81st Street Residence is a long-term, supportive housing facility for people who have come through their shelter program. Formerly homeless, the residents live independently but, like all of us, need some support, tender loving care, and spiritual fellowship. During the past year, The Brick Church continued its tradition of sharing a weekly meal with the residents of NCS through the Wednesday Night Dinner Program (WNDP). The WNDP Deacons partner with the Youth program to plan, prepare and serve dinner, offering the residents time for nourishment and fellowship. The program is a labor of love for our Deacons and volunteers, who take beginning-to-end responsibility for the entire meal and lead our guests in a prayerful blessing. Many of the residents are very outgoing and the evenings are highlighted by engaging conversations. Most importantly, the WNDP Deacons strive to serve as a witness to the Lord’s presence among this group who are all working hard to overcome past hardships.
2018 year was a successful one for WNDP. The Deacons served more than 500 meals to NCS residents, including a marvelous May cook-out with ribs, hot dogs and burgers grilled by new NCS Recreational Specialist Winslo Edwards. In September, the Deacons and Youth joined forces to host dinners together every Wednesday in Watson Hall (previously the Deacons and Youth alternated weeks). This new format has generated new excitement and fellowship for the program that the Deacons will hope to build on in 2019.
Deacons: Jay Galloway, Nancy Blair, Graham Clark, Amy McDonald, Chris Carroll, Chris Hamilton, and Blythe Chace (Youth Deacon)
Jan Hus Presbyterian Church
This ministry supports the Jan Hus Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program (HOAP) at the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood House, which is located on 74th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. The main focus of Jan Hus is on local outreach to fellow New Yorkers who are homeless or living off very low income. Jan Hus, through its various programs, assists over 500 people in acute need every week.
This year’s Jan Hus Deacons are excited to continue leading the Tuesday night dinner program, Brick Family Night. Scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month (October – June), this is a Brick-sponsored evening where Brick church members and friends prepare, cook, and serve dinner to men and women in need. From the start of the program year through January, Brick volunteers have helped provide meals to an average of 126 people per month.
Deacons: Linda Arnold, Elizabeth Boehmler, Jeffrey Gower, Katrina Masterson, and John Tuttle
New York Common Pantry
New York Common Pantry (formerly Yorkville Common Pantry) opened in 1980 as a small neighborhood pantry serving 30 families on the Upper East Side. In recent years, NYCP has grown to meet the challenges so many people face including housing and enrolling in long term assistance & services. Today, through the generous support of organizations like Brick Church, NYCP has become a city-wide leader in emergency food provision, providing meals and support services to 500,000 individuals across the NYC area. Each year NYCP grows its programs and serve those most in need – in FY2017 NYCP distributed more than 6 million meals. In addition, NYCP and its onsite partners helped clients access over $6 million in benefits and services.
In an effort to extend the NYCP ministry and to establish greater involvement between the Church and Brick Church School and its children, the Brick community participates in several food and supply drives: Fall Food, Thanksgiving Turkey and Spring Toiletry Drives. The 2018 Turkey Drive collected over $7k which put a complete Thanksgiving holiday meal on the table for over 175 families. Additionally, NYCP continues to be a site for Day of Discipleship volunteering.
NYCP relies on organizations like Brick to support so much of their programming and the time, donations and financial support from Brick are integral to the success of the organization. Brick’s support provides much-needed food, supplies, and volunteers to NYCP. Notably, almost 50% of the workforce at NYCP is provided on a volunteer basis.
Deacons: Beth Bell and Tanya Wells
Opportunities: You may have it in your heart to help formerly incarcerated men and women make a positive fresh start in their lives. Several Brick Church members and former inmates are volunteers in Brick Church’s “re-entry for former prisoners” program. There are many ways you can help. You can write letters to present and former inmates, or send holiday and birthday cards, or meet and mentor recently-released men and women in a safe & welcoming environment. Through our longtime relationship with New York Theological Seminary, Brick Church volunteers may even attend graduation ceremonies at selected New York State prisons that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees to inmates.
We seek to offer a lifeline to men and women who have been rejected by society, but who are committed to re-directing their lives. Your commitment of time can be minimal, or as involved as you wish it to be. You can volunteer in our mentoring activities; learn the do’s and don’ts of letter writing to prisoners; help identify sources of employment; assist returning men and women to re-establish connections with loved ones; or join in our emerging program of helping returning citizens to enhance their resumes with practical skills inventories that are effective in helping to land jobs; and other efforts that will help the formerly incarcerated connect to the civilian world. If it appeals to you to explore volunteering for this dynamic ministry at Brick Church (no commitment necessary at this time), please contact Rev. Douglas King, or co-chairpersons Kent McKamy or (Ms) Warner Williams to learn more about what’s been done so far, and what’s upcoming. This ministry meets at 6:30 PM on the first Monday of each month at Brick Church.
Search and Care
For over four decades, the mission of Search and Care has been to minister to vulnerable elderly New Yorkers. By acting as clients’ surrogate family (when they have none available), the Agency allows clients to retain their cherished independence and age safely at home as long as possible, thereby enhancing their quality of life and peace of mind. Serving a 50-block area from 86th to 138th Street on Manhattan’s East Side, the full-time staff of 12 – aided by a small army of part-time consultants, interns and volunteers – attend to the needs of approximately 850 clients. The primary source of Search and Care’s operating funds is from private contributions with limited public support.
Brick Church volunteers visited client homes and hosted a formal sit-down dinner with Search and Care clients. The volunteers also helped organize an Ease Ensemble in the fall at Brick Church’s Carnegie Room, which entertained our elderly neighbors with a cabaret performance by Broadway singers. Brick members joined the organization’s “Spread Some Cheer” initiative during the month of December. This involves Brick Church volunteers visiting Search and Care clients in their homes and bringing them holiday gift bags. Brick Deacon Darst visited the founding Executive Director of Search & Care who provided him with an oral history of the organization back to 1972. Brick Deacon Sarno visited a blind 90+-year-old reverend who resides in Harlem.
Deacons: David Darst and Grace Sarno
East Harlem Ministries
This ministry focuses on strengthening the connections with neighboring East Harlem through relationships with churches in that neighborhood. In 2018, St. Francis de Sales on East 96th Street became a new partner in this ministry through Father Phil Kelly; Church of the Living Hope on East 104th Street welcomed a new, bilingual Pastor, Ruben Nuno to support growth in that largely Spanish speaking neighborhood.
Highlights from 2018 include the Day of Discipleship in March at Church of the Living Hope and the initiation of ecumenical worship services involving the three congregations. The first of these services was held at The Brick Church in November and was presided over by Doug King, Father Kelly and Ruben Nuno. Two more services are scheduled to take place in 2019, the first in January at St. Francis de Sales and the second at The Church of the Living Hope during Lent. We were also able to donate some of the surplus toys from the Deacon Christmas party to Church of the Living Hope for distribution at their Christmas party for the neighborhood families.
In addition, all three churches participated in a group concerned with the migrant children separated from their parents and sent to New York City through the Cayuga Center. This group met several times and is in the planning stages of working on offering some art therapy classes to those children. In addition, foster families were welcomed to A Blessing of the Children which was held at St Francis de Sales and presided over by clergy from all three churches and with volunteer participation from all three congregations.
Once again, Church of the Living Hope will be a popular site for our Day of Discipleship this spring (Saturday, March 9th, 2019). There will be a variety of projects to improve living conditions in East Harlem. The East Harlem Ministry remains an excellent opportunity to help our two communities learn from each other and grow in fellowship.
Deacons: Jane Lowry, Helen Elmiger, Marc Engberg, and Bret Barasch