Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Special Guests at Mitchell Woods Christmas

InterServ Early Care and Education Center at Mitchell Woods held its annual Christmas party for the young children Tuesday morning. It was much like any other Christmas, kids got together with their teachers, some in costume, and they all sang, or tried to, the songs that they learned earlier in the month.

The program began as scheduled with all toddlers and children getting in on the action, some more than others, and was performed virtually without a hitch. There were cookies, donuts and coffee for everyone to partake. The Christmas tree was full of gifts donated to the children by Ashland United Methodist Church and it was hinted that Santa was to arrive after the program was over to hand out gifts.

Now everyone in the room that morning, parents and children alike, knew Santa was the one special guest they were anxiously awaiting. To Charlotte—“Charlie,” to the rest of the group—Benner, though, Santa was OK and all, but not at the top of her list. You see, Charlie had a special guest all her own and he had appeared at the start of the program - from halfway around the world- to watch her sing.

Her father, Brenton Benner, is stationed in Afghanistan and was her special guest, via the internet, at the Mitchell Woods Christmas Party. Brenton, through a laptop computer propped on a chair, was able to watch Charlie perform her portion of the program. He was also able to see her receive her gift from Santa and open it. Charlie proudly displayed her present for her father, sharing the Christmas spirit with him despite his distance.

It is a yearly tradition at Mitchell Woods to gather together in this time of festivities and sharing, to catch a glimpse of that special guest in the red suit, with the long flowing white beard at which the kids marvel at. But to Charlie, Santa was just “OK.” Charlie knows that her “special guest” will always be with her, not just on one holiday of the year, but every day, in some way. In this case, it just happened to be through a laptop computer.

Friday, December 2, 2011

InterServ's New BFF's

As young people go through their school day, most of them are thinking about what they are going to do when they get home, what their parents are going to have for them to eat, or when their favorite television shows are on.

Some of them daydream about what they are going to do when they get out of high school, what they are going to study in college, or what kind of job are they going to have.

So when InterServ was the recipient of a number of items for its Calvin Center Food Pantry, the guess was that it was from a church or local organization that does food drives on a regular basis. But that was not to be the case, receiving those food items from some young minds thinking not of sports, television or parents, but how they can help others.

In one instance, a former InterServ employees' granddaughter conducted her own food drive and donated the items to the Calvin Center Food Pantry, while Pershing, Skaith and Parkway elementary schools in St. Joseph helped as well, all recently conducting school wide food drives for InterServ, providing much needed non-perishable items to aid those in need.

InterServ is thankful for every item of food that it receives through various food drives, and some drives are bigger than others, but as we see with these young minds in action, it's not the size of the truck or boxes, it's the size of the people who organize, donate and think of others that matters.

So to InterServ's new BFF's, we say THX and SC.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

One of those calls

While attending a short seminar earlier this month, I heard an assistant principle at a local school district explain to those in attendance that he instructs his staff to treat each phone call that is considered a "complaint" to be an opportunity for his organization to get better.

We receive some of those calls at InterServ, but the call that the Southside Youth Program received last week was disguised as something much different.

Dennis Snethen, the Director of the SSY and head coach of the Wesley Weightlifters, fielded that call after three of our lifters were pictured in the St. Joseph News-Press. The three ladies were pictured as part of the News-Press' SportsZone section, a section that focuses on youth and children sports and appears every Monday.

The person who called Dennis after seeing the pictures started the conversation with - "Are you the one who runs the weightlifting program?" Immediately, Dennis thought the worst. The caller referenced the News-Press photos and followed up with - "How come that little girl does not have a uniform?"

You see, one of the three girls pictured in the News-Press wasn't dressed in a weightlifting singlet while the other two were, thus triggering a reaction from the caller that, at first thought, might seem as a complaint or a phone call that might not be well received.

Not so.

"I want to donate some money to buy that girl a uniform," the caller said humbly.

After a short explanation by Dennis to the caller that the girl without the uniform owns more than one, but doesn’t like to wear them, and that particular weightlifting meet did not require lifters to wear singlets, so she decided not to, the phone call turned out to be a blessing, not a complaint.

You see, even though nothing physically or structurally changed on either end of the phone, the blessing is that there are people out there who are willing to pick up the phone for the betterment of their fellow person.

After taking the call, Dennis felt better the rest of the day. And after hearing his story, so did I.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Great Week for a Food Drive!

This was a great day for our food pantry. Skaith school finished up their week long drive, bringing in over 600 items. The youth who coordinated this event deserve a big THANK YOU!

In addition, Heartland Comprehensive Family Care Center held a 3-day drive and filled a truck and an SUV with approximately 3,000 items! Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success, and congratulations to Dr. Wiederholt's team for winning the friendly competition!

The generosity of our community never ceases to amaze me. The thing that sets InterServ apart is its partnership with the faith community. People meet God in their interaction with the poor and vulnerable. Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Joy of Giving

Our Adopt-a-senior project is off to a great start. Ten of our seniors have already been adopted!!! Each person calls with excitement and joy in their voice as they make their request for the name of a senior to adopt. One woman got her church women's group excited about it and they adopted a total of four seniors. The needs are simple: a new nightgown, slippers, coffee, sheets, bookends, and something almost all the lists have on them: cleaning supplies.

Have you made plans to help someone else this holiday season? If you haven't, drop me an e-mail lpiper@inter-serv.org. I will be happy to connect you with a senior who needs help. Have a joyous day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Holiday Help

The holidays are sneeking up on us! Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be here. November begins InterServ's Adopt-A-Senior Project. Many of the people we serve have very low income and lack resources they need to purchase even the most basic of items. You can help brighten the holiday for someone by adopting one of our seniors. Simply give us a call (816-238-4511 Ext. 29) or drop us an e-mail (lpiper@inter-serv.org) and we will give you a list of needed items for which you can shop, wrap, and return to be delivered by our staff. If you prefer not to shop, you may choose to sponsor the food cost for one of our seniors on the Mobile Meals waiting list. Your gift feeds homebound seniors and provides a wellness check by dedicated volunteers.
What do our seniors say about these projects?
"Mobile Meals are wonderful. I know I am getting a balanced meal when I eat these meals. That means I will get well soon and be up on my feet again."
"When you brought in the Christmas gifts, I couldn't believe my eyes. It's like - yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
Will you help brighten the holidays for one of our seniors?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Halloween Haunting

Halloween - All-Hallows Eve - costumes for the kids and all the fun and games that go along with this national day. And oh, I almost forgot, a Kansas City Chiefs football game on television. All the makings of a great night, or in my case, one that haunts you.

It seemed headed for a good one while walking along with some friends and their kids as they trick-or-treated the local neighborhood. We headed down to a local church, whose congregation gathered for an annual treat in which they decorated the trunks of their cars or the beds of trucks and passed out candy to anyone who came by. It has been going on for years.

A good ole’ fashioned church Halloween, and a way for the congregation to get people to come to the church, pass out literature and possibly connect with the community on a more personal level.

You had the decorated grave yard in a fairly-new Capri trunk and its owner handing out Kit Kats, a strobe-lit casket in the back of a Chevy, complete with Snickers - all the makings of a church outing that helped bring out the best in people.

Then we came across the final car in line. After a read of its sign and a double-take of the occupants in the trunk of the vehicle, it struck me as more than odd.

Two young adults, raggedly dressed with mismatched shoes and socks, holes in their jeans and gloves, happily addressed the children with candy and suckers surrounded by six boxes outside of the vehicle with written signs on them.

One sign, in capital letters, read “HOMELESS” and the other sign “BOX PEOPLE.”

Thoughts raced around my head like the upcoming NASCAR events. Should I ask them why they chose this caricature? Do they know any homeless people? Do they help homeless people? Do they attend this church? Is this a joke?

I watched them for about five minutes while our little trick-or-treaters made their way through the maze of cars and the faces of the men I have seen at Community Missions Corporation (Juda House and St. Joseph’s Haven) came back to me quickly as did the thought of how hard CMC and its sister organizations in St. Joseph work to bring this issue to an end.

I know what St. Joseph does for the homeless, it is a great work in progress. But the thing that haunted me the rest of the evening is that fact that I am not as educated on the plight of the homeless as I want to be in order to help fulfill the mission of CMC. And after further review, I am guessing that neither were these two young people, hanging out the back of a perfectly good car, giving away treats and candy to kids in the parking lot of a church.

And since all they were doing was passing out candy, “dressed” as homeless, I can fairly say they were not advocating for those men and women in that situation. No literature to pass out about the homeless, no brochures or newsletters from those organizations that aid these people, just sitting there in their car, enjoying Halloween.

But, to be fair, giving them the benefit of the doubt, they are probably smart enough to know that whether it be in a car to shelter them from the elements, candy to eat, or at church to hone their faith, any homeless person would be dying to be in their shoes. And some probably did that very evening.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In Appreciation of Our Donors

Yesterday afternoon InterServ celebrated its donors by inviting them to an "open house" reception at one of our supporting churches. We had a nice turnout, giving us the opportunity to get to know our partners in mission a little better.

As I talked with one couple about why they give to InterServ, I learned that they give in appreciation of the work that InterServ does to address the basic needs of seniors in our community. They were particularly impressed with our volunteers who go above and beyond the "call of duty". They had an aunt and a mother who both received Mobile Meals while they were still living. The peace of mind this couple got just knowing that their loved ones were cared for and would receive a hot nutritious meal while they had to be away at work each day has left an impression upon them that continues to move them to support InterServ financially.

Many of the people who attended not only donate financially, but they also give their time and talent to assure that the many jobs get done in a loving and caring fashion.

One donor summed it up this way, "we are put on this earth to serve. InterServ gives us a way we can do this."

Thank you to the many people who work together: staff, volunteers, and donors, to help InterServ accomplish its mission: "through the sharing of God's love, we seek out and assist those in need, so all may live their lives more fully and more capably."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The perfect gift for the holidays!

As the days grow shorter, we begin to think about the holidays and one of the great stressors of that time of the year: Finding The Perfect Gift for The Person Who Has Everything!

I have several of those in my life--people who go out and buy what they want and need instead of waiting, like good friends and family, until the holidays so that I will have some idea of what to get them. Over the past several years, I have learned just how to handle this.

Most of my friends and family members have some cause for which they work tirelessly or to which they donate regularly. A few years ago, I began to realize that the simplest and best gift that I can give is a donation in honor of someone on my list to an organization that supports a cause dear to that person's heart.

Recognizing what is important to a person tells that person that you care about him or her--enough to notice how they spend their time; enough to support the causes that they support. In this time when so many are in need, your tribute gift will not only warm the heart of a loved one, but also the hearts of those working for the organization to whom the gift was made and ultimately (and in my mind, most importantly) the hearts of those who receive services as a result of your gift. Whether your loved one's cause is people, animals, the environment, or another worthy cause, there is an organization that will welcome your gift.

Most organizations will mail a card to the honoree or make another sort of acknowledgement of your tribute. If you decide to make a tribute gift as a Christmas or holiday gift, be sure to check with the organization to see when their deadline is for assuring that your honoree will receive their notice by the holiday.

InterServ acknowledges tribute/honor and memorial gifts by mailing a card to the person of the donor's choice and by publishing the tribute in our "InTouch" newsletter. For acknowledgements to be printed in the Holiday "InTouch" newsletter, your tribute or memorial gift must be received by October 14. Gifts received after October 14 will appear in the Spring "InTouch" newsletter, however, honorees will still receive an acknowledgement card in time for the holiday if the gift is received at least 5 business days prior to the holiday. You may also make arrangements to pick up a gift acknowledgement card at our InterServ Foundation offices--they make perfect stocking stuffers! Call us for details or to make a gift (816.238.4511, ext. 29).

There are people in the world who touch our lives in remarkable ways. A gift in their honor to a cause they support is a way to touch the life of another person--someone in need--as well as the heart of someone who enriches your life just by being there for you. Make your list today. You will be glad that you did.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

You Can Make a Difference - One Person at a Time

Our mission, "Through the sharing of God's love, we seek out and assist those in need, so all may live their lives more fully and more capably," is put into action through the programs and services we offer at InterServ.

We help working parents by ensuring that they have access to quality affordable care for their children. The children who come to our centers gain the skills they need to be successful in school and in life. We help older adults to maintain their independence by providing access to nutritious noon meals through our senior nutrition and mobile meals programs, and to in home care and other services such as Lifeline emergency response. We provide food orders to families who are struggling to keep food on their tables. Last month we were able to provide 545 food orders. We provide a safe place for youth to come after school where recreation programs help to build character and values that will last a lifetime. Volunteers are an integral part of our success. Last month we helped to connect 158 volunteers with meaningful work that makes a difference in our communtiy.

We are grateful for the support of our community and we give thanks to those who partner with us to share God's love in a very tangible and meaningful way.

We will host a special celebration to honor our donors at Ashland United Methodist Church on Thursday, October 27th from 4-6 pm. Please join us as we share thanks with people who support our organization and help to keep it strong.

You can help to make a difference - one person at a time. Join InterServ as we live out our mission - one person at a time.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rethinking Church & Putting Love into Action

This weekend, churches in St. Joseph, Missouri are putting their love into action by helping InterServ and Community Missions with projects that will help benefit programs that help people to live their lives more fully and more capably.

On Saturday, United Methodists will gather at the Community Missions campus (Juda House and Haven) and build a storage structure and a shaded area for InterServ and its related organization, Community Missions. Another group of Methodists will bring a sack lunch for those who will be working on the construction projects. Still another group of Methodists will bring truckloads full of paper and hygiene items to be distributed through InterServ and Community Missions. Across town, an ecumenical group of church goers will gather at First Christian church for morning reflections about poverty as part of a "Journey to Justice" experience. Participants will then go to one of eleven different work sites to hear first-hand accounts of how lives have been changed by the agencies working to fight poverty in St. Joseph. Finally, InterServ staff and volunteers will work to move items for a family affected by the recent flooding as another act of sharing God's love with people in need.

On Sunday, still more Methodist church members will help out by replacing house numbers on the homes of some of the people who receive Mobile Meals. At 4:00 p.m. InterServ's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program will honor volunteers with an appreciation event at the Firefighter's Hall on A Highway. Our oldest volunteer is 102 years old and the person with the most lifetime volunteer hours has volunteered over 12,000 hours of service!

I am proud to be part of this wonderful organization and to see how people from faith communities all over the city are putting their love into action - not just this weekend, but every day. God's love is truly amazing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Putting Love in Action

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:16-18

How do we love with actions and in truth? Just a sampling of the projects for Sept: On Sat. Sept. 10th the Ecumenical Community Empowerment Committee will sponsor a Journey for Justice event. It begins at First Christian Church (927 Faraon St. - St. Joseph, MO) at 9 a.m. participants will hear reflections and meditations regarding poverty, and then go out to one of 11 mission sites where they will hear first hand accounts of clients who have been helped in their struggle against the affects of poverty. Both InterServ (Youth Services) and Community Missions (Juda House & Haven) will serve as work sites. Also on Sept. 10th, United Methodists will work on a project for InterServ and Community Missions as part of Serve 2011, a conference-wide service initiative by the Missouri United Methodist Church. On Sunday, Sept. 25, churches will participate in the CROP Walk which supports Church World Service globally and Open Door Food Kitchen and InterServ Mobile Meals locally. Also on Sept. 25th, churches will do service as part of St. Joe Serve, an annual community-wide service event of St. Joe churches.

People are putting their love into action by living out the gospel message of hope and healing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From the Executive Director

InterServ’s long standing statement of its mission reflects a people filled with faith and purpose, actively involved along this journey of life in reaching out to brothers and sisters in need, so that the receiver and the giver may experience God’s gifts.

Last week, today, tomorrow, and next month the headlines for us will be about the dread, anxiety and devastation of flood waters. People uprooted from their homes, their neighbors, and/or their livelihoods. With questions of how long before we see some relief in receding water levels and the wonder of how do we cope with that sense of powerlessness against the path of Mother Nature.

As with the flood of 1993 people seek basic needs: shelter, food, transitional & permanent housing, clothing, access to health care and inclusion. Inclusion is a community’s message to those affected - that we care about what happens to them. A message that gives hope and builds a network of support for recovery.

Also in the news will be United Way, Red Cross, faith communities, service clubs, businesses, federal, state and local governments, all of which will combine resources, call the community together, and assist people facing crisis and offer support that addresses physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

It is your gifts which allow InterServ to be a part of addressing basic needs and help in the building of a network of support. Those gifts which make emergency food for families available at the InterServ-Calvin Center food pantry, your sharing of clothing items to be given out by volunteers at our free clothing store, and your contributions which allow staff and volunteers to help find resources needed in a long term recovery.

This discussion about natural disasters will mirror the impact of poverty on people’s lives. Last week, today, tomorrow, next month, and next year, the headlines will be about the dread and anxiety of poverty; people uprooted, questions about relief, wonderment of how to cope and escape that sense of powerlessness that poverty brings. We remain mindful that the largest numbers of those affected are children. And it will be faithfully serving people like you who provide for those seeking basic needs, giving a message of inclusion that offers hope which builds a network of support so that all may live their lives more fully and more capably. Peace.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sorry for the delay in the blogworld, but we are back.

Over the next couple of weeks, the Inter-Serv staff will be blogging its way through the information superhigh way.

Check back for updates by the Inter-Serv Foundation, listing of events, and general information concerning our mission.

You don't want to miss it.