"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"-- Matthew 25:40
For decades, the Social Outreach Committee of St. James Episcopal church has awarded annual grants averaging a total of $60,000 to community and diocesan charities as our tithe to the community at large. The past year’s funding cycle stretched from October 2018 through September 2019.
This year, we have paused the grants program to reflect and discern where we as a parish are called to serve. For your information, here is a recap of what we awarded in 2018 together with the mission or purpose of each grantee and what you might do to further help these organizations.
For the awards listed below, a committee of 14 parishioners met in August 2018 to discuss proposals made by several charitable organizations. We reviewed these applications in great detail, discussed each and made our allocations balancing accountability, effectiveness, and fidelity to our mission of serving neediest people in the community or diocese in areas of medical services, education, housing and feeding.
The organization’s mission is to improve life for those living with cancer. It is the only agency (now as part of Mary Bird Perkins) that provides direct non-medical cancer services to children and adults, the majority of whom are below the poverty line. At one time, this charity was led by a St. James parishioner.
The Direct Assistance Program we contributed to helps provide access to medical transportation, cancer-related prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and medical-related supplies.
Volunteers are needed to greet people at the office, distribute supplies, and pick up and deliver contributed equipment. You can volunteer by calling 225-927-2273.
The mission of Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless (CAAH) is to provide a continuum of care network for the homeless in the capital area through a coordinated body of diverse organizations and individuals. Member agencies provide shelter, case management, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, Christian-based life skills training, and employment/job assistance. CAAH operates the One-Stop Homeless Services Center.
The computer lab expenses to which we contributed enable homeless clients to acquire computer skills, create a résumé, and conduct a job search. The art classes, which encourage dignity and self-expression, were founded by a St. James parishioner and taught by another St. James parishioner. St. James’ grants paid for art supplies.
You can volunteer with CAAH by calling the center at 225-388-5800. In addition, St. James provides two opportunities to serve the homeless from our church: Hearty Breakfasts, held generally on fifth Sundays of a month; and, We Care bags.
The Emerge Center empowers children with autism and individuals with communications challenges to achieve independence through innovative and family-centered therapies.
The garden program we funded is a communal resource for the clinic’s children, teaching them concentration, social and memory skills, and proper nutrition. It also provides physical activity.
You could help by volunteering as a playground assistant at the school for special days and holidays. Call 225-343-4232.
The mission of the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach through faith-based and other community partners.
The program toward which we provided funding, Bucks for Trucks, is a highly efficient way to leverage food dollars for the needy. It allows the Food Bank to accept truckloads of nutritious food from various sources including brokers, private facilitators, and Feeding America and its affiliates with excess inventory. Items include nonperishable food, produce, and meat and other protein products, Emphasis is placed on healthy and balanced nutrition, rather than the carbohydrate-concentrated foods typically available to the poor. In 2017, food costs were 33 cents per pound.
You can volunteer to help the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank by calling 225-359-9940, or by volunteering at the St. James Food Pantry.
St. James’ own Food Pantry is an official distribution point for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, which provides our food stock. It serves verified Food Bank recipients in zip code 70802, about 160 families per month.
Though the Food Bank provides the food we distribute, we supplemented it during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with vouchers for turkeys that can be redeemed at local grocery stores. This funding supplied 330 such vouchers in 2018.
You can help our own Food Pantry further supplement its stock by bringing canned or dry foods to church, and dropping them in contribution barrels located in the narthex of the church and the Parish Hall foyer, or leave it in the lobby of the Ministries Center. Our monthly food donation focus donation is publicized in our newsletters and Sunday leaflets, where any special need for certain types of food is also shared.
Gardere Community Christian School’s mission is to provide a firm Christian foundation in the educational and spiritual life of children in the Gardere neighborhood, encouraging them to grow into and become the person God created them to be. The school enrolls low-income Pre-K through fifth graders.
The after-school program we helped fund pays teachers to provide enrichment classes such as photography, cooking, foreign language, and dance, in addition to a Parent Showcase.
You can help the school by volunteering to help with fundraisers, recess duty, reading buddies, mentorship, dining room assistance, and story-time Saturdays. Call 225-387-5082.
Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based ministry that builds and renovates houses in partnership with the community. They provide opportunities for families in need to purchase their own homes, build community, and improve their lives.
The funds we provided will go specifically toward building supplies for poor and elderly homeowners who are still recovering from the catastrophic August 2016 flood.
There are many volunteer opportunities at Habitat’s ReStore, including customer service, cashiering, preparing donations for display, picking up donations, and office support.
In addition, there are volunteer opportunities on construction sites. Contact their volunteer coordinator by calling 225-927-6651, or email Kristen.
Hope Ministries’ mission is to prevent homelessness and promote self-sufficiency and dignity. It serves individuals in the 70805 zip code.
Hope Ministries provides a food pantry and educational development programs, including one-on-one coaching for the homeless and those in poverty. This year, in accordance with our focus on the programmatic funding, we helped them upgrade their technological equipment to perform the necessary progress tracking of their Way to Work program.
You can volunteer by calling 225-355-0702.
The Interfaith Federation is a network of religious communities who share the religious value of compassionate love for our neighbor in need. The Foundation builds bridges of understanding among faith groups and bears public witness to a vision of peace. St. James Episcopal Church was a charter member.
The program we provided funding toward is the Holy Grill, which serves a hot lunch to the hungry, Monday through Friday, in Zion City, a neighborhood in north Baton Rouge. Food is served by volunteers from faith groups and healthy lifestyles are promoted.
Kids’ Orchestra is an after-school and summer camp program for children in Kindergarten through grade five who predominately attend schools lacking formal music education. It seeks to improve lives by creating a sense of community through providing music education, academic tutoring, mentorship, and performance opportunities. A St. James parishioner founded this organization, and other parishioners serve in its administration and on its board.
The funding we provided goes toward program materials, instrument repairs, teaching artists, and bus transportation.
Kids’ Orchestra is currently planning opportunities for volunteers at all levels, including committees and direct support for its programs. Call 225-922-4656.
O’Brien House’s mission is to save lives and families from alchoholism and drug abuse through residential treatment and community outreach. A St. James parishioner led this organization in the past. Also, clients of O’Brien House have helped with St. James functions over the years.
The program we funded this year falls under their outreach mission. It teaches emotional learning, character development, drug and bullying prevention, and service learning to at-risk youth. Classes are taught in public housing and community libraries.
You can volunteer with O’Brien House by calling 225-344-6345.
The Church of the Transfiguration is the Episcopal Church’s presence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The church leads and supplies services, sponsors Christian formation groups, and conducts hospice visits. Currently, there are 80 confirmed Episcopalians in the prison’s population.
We funded two banquets per year to provide good food and encouragement to those who regularly participate in the church’s program — one at Christmas, and the other for the bishop’s visitation.
You can help by volunteering for the Advisory Council, joining inmates for monthly Eucharist, or visiting the prison hospice. Contact the Rev. Peggy King Scott by email, or at 225-229-1692.