First Church Receives "Extreme Makeover" Grant
By Taashi Rowe
The soup kitchen at Allegheny East Conference’s First church in Washington, D.C., recently won a grant from the “Extreme Makeover” television show. The grant, which was bestowed on nonprofit community service organizations, was a boon to the kitchen that serves between 75 and 100 people each week.
The kitchen serves lunch three days a week and breakfast on Sundays. They generally rely on donations and local government grants.
“With the economic changes in our country, the grants are paying slowly this year, giving has been reduced, and the food banks have pulled back on donations,” explains Marcia Fraser-Foster, who has directed the church’s Adventist Community Services for 45 years. “So the church has had to temporarily pick up a larger burden of the kitchen’s costs.”
“We were overwhelmed with this gift,” says Lord Waters, director of operation for community outreach. “It’s so good to get this grant. The Lord has really blessed us.”
Waters envisions the money helping to not only bolster the kitchen’s food budget, but also help other areas of the church’s community services. First church also has a clothing program, distribute canned goods, holds job fairs, makes medical, employment, and housing referrals, and runs a hypothermia shelter for homeless men at the church when the temperature drops below freezing.
On a recent visit to the kitchen James Tenor Sr., shared that he first started coming to the kitchen in 2003 just to eat. But over the years he began to volunteer.
“Then they invited me to church,” he says. “It feels like family. They are good people and they treat me right.”
Tenor recently lost his job working for a local restaurant, but he is not worried. “God will work things out,” he says knowingly.
Mark McCleary, DMin, has pastored the church for the past eight years says the grant will help the church continue to fulfill its mission. “This is part of our mission,” he says. “I’m not only pastor of the church but chaplain to the community. No church can sit in a community and just drive in without being a stakeholder in that community.”
Because of its midday schedule, many of the volunteers are senior citizens. One volunteer, Rocky Twyman says, “I love blessing the community. This is the mission. People will not accept the message when they are hungry.”
The First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, D.C., a beacon of light for many homeless in the nation’s capital, recently won a $5,000 grant from Extreme Makeover television show.
First church member Thomas Dockery has volunteered in the soup kitchen for going on 15 years.
The church’s soup kitchen is open four days a weeks and feeds about 75 people each week.
Pastor Mark McCleary, DMin, (left) and volunteer Rocky Twyman agree that reaching the needy is the church’s true mission.
Marcia Fraser Foster has headed the church’s community ministries, which includes the soup kitchen, for nearly 45 years.
James Tenor Jr. started out receiving meals at the kitchen and now actively volunteers.