2013 D.Thomason Grants

First Presbyterian Church Shreveport

First Presbyterian Church is blessed to have many members who have remembered the church through testamentary and life-time gifts to the Legacy Fund. These permanent gifts have enabled us to minister to the needs of others in the name of Jesus Christ above and beyond the work and gifts made possible through the church’s annual operating budget. D. Thomason is one member in particular whose testamentary gift has made possible the making of grants approaching $5,000,000 to support the work of our Outreach partners and Presbyterian ministries locally, nationally, and around the world.

D. Thomason grants for 2013 totaled $111,600. The recipients of the 2013 D. Thomason Grants were recognized and thanked for their good work during worship on February 9, 2014. Those receiving grants were:

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, for the seminary’s capital campaign

Church of Bangladesh, to fund laptop computers for a number of the church’s pastors

First Presbyterian Church-Natchitoches, to help fund HVAC repairs and sanctuary lighting

Holmes Chapel Presbyterian Church-Monticello, AR, to fund a program to assist students to stay in school and graduate

Joy to the World Ministries, to help fund a secondary school project in Dzuwa region of Malawi

Montreat Conference Center, to fund a new LCD projector for Anderson Auditorium

Mo-Ranch Assembly Center, to remedy a particular accessibility issue at the King Dining Hall

Providence House, to replace futons at the Cotton St. facility

Volunteers for Youth Justice, to support its youth diversion programs

The ARC of Caddo-Bossier, to support its pre-school/daycare program

Common Ground Community, Inc., to fund a portion of the cost of replacing a floor in its main building

Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, to fund the replacement of sorting tables

Highland Center Ministries, LLC, to fund the purchase of school uniforms (Maggie Lee’s Closet) and support for men’s clothing closet

Hope for the Homeless, for furnishings for the main day room of the drop-in center at the new Hope Connections

Interfaith Pharmacy, for prescription medications for its clients

Literacy Volunteers, for computers and furnishings for its students

Martin Luther King Health Center, to fund an upgrade of its electronic medical records system

Samaritan Counseling Center, to help convert to an electronic records system

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Update from HOPE

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A few months ago, the Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier and the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations shared an article with local nonprofit leaders that gave some startling statistics on how little faith most Americans place in the real impact nonprofits are making. However, thanks to the generosity of First Presbyterian Church, the HOPE for the Homeless team spent last week with 1600 people from around the country who are passionately seeking to make a once unimaginable impact – ending homelessness in America. We attended the National Alliance to End Homelessness annual conference in Washington, D.C.

The conference had speakers from HUD, the VA, funders and foundations, and agencies around the country who are actually ending homelessness in their communities and regions. There were common themes among all of these presenters: 1. There must be a centralized intake into the local homeless system. 2. Clients must be prioritized by need – placing those with the highest needs into housing first. 3. Changing into a true homeless system, instead of individual great programs, is mandatory.

I am thrilled to report that the homeless providers in Northwest Louisiana have been working together to create a model like this for the past few years. The problem is that change is REALLY hard! Many of the workshops that were held at the conference focused on change, and ultimately they said that agencies that are not committed to the goal of ending homelessness and refuse to change will be left behind. The great news is that most funders, faith communities, and the business community are ready for us to admit that a change is needed – ready for us to admit that what we have been doing has not made a very big impact.

The members of First Presbyterian have supported homeless services for many years, and I am thrilled to report to you that many members of our church are involved in HOPE’s local efforts to rally agencies together to solve this issue. For several years now, Circle 7 has partnered with the youth to bring sack dinners to Hope House once a month. Several PW Circles send generous checks every quarter. Sarah and Lauren have attended many of the HOPE Homeless Coalition Meetings to better understand the “big picture.” Also, the Outreach Ministry recently granted us funding to provide incentives gift cards for our annual 100,000 Homes Survey and paid our conference fees so that we could find real solutions to end homelessness. I could go on and on – like the Pathfinders consistently bringing laundry detergent and coffee to Hope House, or Mary Jane Lowder leaving secret stashes of laundry detergent and coffee in my carport once a month. It would be impossible to give the full picture of the role First Presbyterian’s members are playing in ending homelessness because the depth of your generosity is so great. 

Many of you know about our HOPE Connections Project where many agencies will co-locate to triage and fast track people into housing while also meeting their immediate needs. I am sure it will come as no surprise that many First Pres members are leading this effort either by serving on the HOPE Board of Directors or on the Capital Campaign Committee. I want to express my sincerest and deepest gratitude to all of you for your time, gifts, and talents as we embark on a new adventure and change the homeless system. If you would like to get more involved in our efforts, please let me know. We can end homelessness, and we want you to be a part of it!

Thank you,

Christa Pazzaglia 

HOPE for the Homeless

Hunger Study

FoodBank

The Hunger Study is conducted every four years and is comprised of two separate surveys. The first is a survey of agencies that receive food from Feeding America Food Banks. The second is a survey of clients who obtain food from these agencies. The data from both surveys will be analyzed and incorporated into reports that will inform policymakers and the public about the magnitude and scope of the hunger problem both nationally and locally. The Food Bank needs volunteers to go to their agencies on selected days and times to monitor client interviews. This year the Food Bank has been given six Microsoft Tablets that the clients will take the survey on. This data collection process will begin in May and last until August. If you want to participate or learn more about this opportunity, please contact Kendall Smith at execadmin@foodbanknla.org or FPC Outreach Coordinator Lauren Rogers at lrogers@fpcshreveport.com.

The Wild West

Celebrity Waiter

Evergreen Life Services’ 6th annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner will take place at East Ridge Country Club on Thursday, May 9th. The theme for this year’s event is “The Wild West” with some of Shreveport’s finest serving tables while dressed up to fulfill the roles of an epic Western. The night begins with a silent auction at 6pm followed by dinner. The program and live auction will begin at 7pm. Local group The Mix Band will serve as the evening’s entertainment. If you are interested in attending, individual tickets are $100 while sponsoring a table is $1,200. To reserve your seat, contact Debbie Orand, Director of Development, at 318-949-5524 or debbie.orand@evergreenls.org. The funds raised will go towards the overall mission of the Evergreen organization and help Evergreen to continue to build better lives!

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Evergreen’s Timeless Cafe & Tearoom

 Timeless

Evergreen’s North Central Louisiana division operates a unique restaurant called the Timeless Café & Tearoom located on Main Street in Minden, LA, and they were one of several gracious recipients of the 2012 D. Thomason Grants. The café exists to offer vocational training to the individuals Evergreen serves as well as to generate revenue for the programs Evergreen offers. Serving delicious sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts, the café is open Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm, and also during special downtown Minden events. If you are ever in the area, this is a wonderful place to stop for lunch and to see the great work that Evergreen continues to do in their ministry!

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How we can help: Safe House

The Safe House Domestic Violence Program is a service offered by The Providence House. Established in 2009, they serve Caddo, Bossier, Webster, and Red River Parishes. They offer a 24/7 telephone crisis hotline, emergency safe shelter, housing for up to 2 years, safety planning, protective orders and legal advocacy, counseling and support groups, classes and training for jobs and life skills, and case management.

Those who come to the Safe House might be seeking legal help, such as a temporary restraining order, or resources for their families, while others are seeking shelter. 100 beds are located in the facility; however, no more than 50 or so people usually reside there at a time. Half of the space is devoted to singles rooms and the other half to families. There is a kitchen that provides meals three times a day, and lounges for relaxing, rooms for counseling, and playrooms for the children. The typical stay is 45 days, but people often stay a bit longer if they are really taking advantage of the services offered to them or if they are in immediate danger.

Outreach opportunities and needs:

  • Volunteers needed to babysit while parents are in counseling sessions or doing case management. One rule at the Safe House is that parents must be watching their children at all times, so often people miss their meetings because they are taking care of their children. If you are interested, please contact program director Patricia Mulvaney at 222-7887
  • Follow Providence House on Facebook to stay up to date with happenings and donated items they need
  • If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the domestic violence crisis hotline at 226-5015

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How we can help: Gingerbread House

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“The mission of the Gingerbread House is to lessen the trauma experienced by child abuse victims as allegations are investigated and to provide support for the child victim in any resulting proceedings within the criminal justice system.”

The Gingerbread House is the Child Advocacy Center for the Shreveport/Bossier area, but it serves nearly all parishes in Northwest Louisiana. It opened in 1998 to help abused and neglected children and teens. They work closely with Child Protective Services and local law enforcement to ensure the best situation for the child. Two women in at Gingerbread House conduct interviews and investigations with the victims brought to them as well as help gather evidence and document the victim’s verbal testimony. In 2012, Gingerbread House held interviews with over 700 children and teens. There are also several counselors on site who work with children, helping them gain control of their emotions and feel comfortable in their skin. These services are provided at no cost to the family. To learn more, go to www.gingerbreadhousecac.org.

Outreach opportunities and needs:

  • Volunteers to help with crowd control on busy days (must undergo a background check)
  • Donations: financial, toiletries, children’s socks and underwear, toys, books, school supplies for drive in August, Christmas presents during the holiday season

How we can help: Mercy Center

“HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence.” -Latoya White, Mercy Center Director

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) was officially recognized as a disease in 1981, and with this discovery and diagnosis came a stigma. Hospitals were turning away people with HIV/AIDS, and the Catholic Dioceses of Shreveport saw a need to create a haven for those suffering from the disease, so they founded the Mercy Center in 1989. It began as a hospice since at the time people struggling with HIV/AIDS were not living very long. Over time, with advancements in medicine helping to prolong the lives of HIV/AIDS victims, the Mercy Center developed from a hospice into a permanent housing facility. In a permanent housing facility, residents are allowed to stay as long as they deem necessary rather than being forced to move out after a designated allotted time (the longest resident the Mercy Center has ever housed stayed for nine years).

To be considered for the Mercy Center, one must already be a client with the Philadelphia Center (who now oversees the Mercy Center). Unfortunately, the need currently exceeds the space, and the Mercy Center is only able to house fourteen individuals at a time with fifteen more currently on the waiting list. A majority of the residents are men because many of the women who wish to apply also have children, and the Mercy Center currently does not have the resources to house children; however, they hope to do so in the future. Many of the residents in the Mercy Center work, but there are some who cannot due to physical and mental limitations. The Mercy Center stresses the importance of giving back, and so all residents are required to perform 2 hours of community service a week. The Louisiana AIDS Drug Assistance Program helps cover HIV medication cost for most (these drugs can cost over a thousand dollars a month), and the Martin Luther King Health Center and Interfaith Pharmacy help to provide the residents with other needed medications.

Outreach opportunities and needs:
• Meals for the residents (FPC currently provides dinner on the third and fourth Tuesdays of each month)
• Donated books and DVDs
• Volunteers to visit with the residents

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How we can help: Centerpoint Community Services

Centerpoint Community Services has been serving Northwest Louisiana since 1987, providing a confidential access network to the services and assistance people may need. Job loss, catastrophic health problems, substance abuse, mental illness, or any number of circumstances may collide to bring anyone to a crisis in their life. Centerpoint provides services, or links people to services, to help get their lives back on track and overcome the particular challenges they may be facing. Centerpoint is known for assisting the homeless, but they actually serve four times as many clients in preventing homelessness through emergency food assistance, originating identification assistance, transportation-bus tickets (First Presbyterian contributes to this aspect of their ministry), healthcare and prescription assistance (they have a partnership with Interfaith Pharmacy), utility and mortgage assistance, and much more.

Centerpoint Community Services/2-1-1 has developed one of the state’s most comprehensive databases of resource services for those in need. It’s a free service accessed by dialing 2-1-1 on your phone and is available 24/7. They have people on site to answer calls and place them into the ServicePoint database, and there are also case managers available.

One of the big events for Centerpoint in the next coming months is their Penny Harvest. They are collecting the “often forgotten and cast away penny” to bring help and value to those in need. FPC Youth will be contributing to the Penny Harvest late November-early February. 10% of the proceeds go towards operational costs. The youth will then be given a list of the top ten needs of Centerpoint clients and will be able to choose where the remaining 90% goes. The money the youth collect will be donated on February 11th, National 2-1-1 Day, which also happens to be the same day Centerpoint will hold its 25-year celebration and open its 2-1-1 clubhouse for kids which will include reading and art stations.

Outreach opportunities and needs:

  • People to spread the word about the work of Centerpoint and their 2-1-1 services
  • Contributions to the Penny Harvest as well as other monetary contributions
  • Holiday gift baskets for their clients (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter)

A Taste of Interfaith

Sunday, November 4th from 4-6:30, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (200 Carroll St.) is hosting an event called A Taste of Interfaith. Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith is a multi-faith, multi-racial, non-partisan organization united to bring about real change within our community around issues of workforce development, property standards/tenants’ rights, and education reform. Tickets for adults to this event are $20, and children and youth 17 and under attend free. There will be a buffet-style dining experience, music, and a silent auction! All proceeds with go towards the Work of Interfaith in Northwest Louisiana.