For many parishioners, actively volunteering in the community is a major aspect of their Heavenly Rest life. The Church of the Heavenly Rest has a long and proud history of community involvement, dating back to its 1890 soup kitchen. Community outreach and social activism remain a vital element in our communal life.
Volunteering isn’t only focused outward — it can also be a matter of strengthening bonds within our own parish community. Volunteer opportunities within the church include working on fundraising events such as the annual Christmas Festival or seasonal Thrift Sales, attending breakfast groups and Bible study groups, and serving as chalice bearers or lectors in any of our weekly services.
The Past Year, and Looking Ahead
An eventful and engaged program year for Outreach draws to a close next week on high notes, with the distribution of 1,000 Grace-2-Go shelf-stable meal kits to our distributions partners, and the launch of MetroCause, our program to drive charitable support that will fund MetroCards for those in need.
We have been very active over the course of the last year: we hosted and provided volunteer support for Raising My Voice, a Prison and Re-entry Ministry program in which we collaborate with Circles of Support; we served healthy snacks and read educational stories to school children at PS 30 as part of a program we developed; we launched a new program with Harlem Grown, an innovative urban farming and youth education organization; we made Palm Sunday gift baskets for Search and Care’s homebound clients; we packed Welcome Home backpacks and held a festive Christmas party for Hudson Link’s reentrant clients; and we held our 2nd annual Community Connections Outreach service day; among many other activities. We questioned how we can make a difference to those who are hungry, and explored how the notion of Nourishment could be our path forward. More than 200 congregants took the opportunity to give and “be with,” and made a powerful difference in the lives of so many in need. It has been a wonderful program year.
In the coming year we plan to expand opportunities for congregants to volunteer for Outreach and to engage with our neighbors in even more ways. MetroCause is our response to a condition we have witnessed across our ministries – the burden that the cost of transportation places on New York’s most vulnerable, and how a free MetroCard can make the difference when it comes to accessing a food pantry, getting to a job interview, making a parole appointment, or simply having a bit more in the pocket to afford a meal. We plan to broaden our relationships with Raising My Voice and Harlem Grown, and we are exploring new programming meant to better foster connections between the existing food charity infrastructure in New York City and those who are meant to be able to access it. This October, we plan to hold our 3rd annual Outreach service day. We anticipate an exciting year ahead.