Reaching Out to Our Neighbors in Need
The Outreach Committee brings before the parish the needs of people outside the congregation in the local community, on deanery and diocesan levels, as well as throughout the Church and the world. The committee recommends opportunities for service through parishioners giving time, talent and treasure.
By Jenna Bagcal
For the past 15 years, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Forest Hills has partnered with Queens Community House to tackle homelessness in the area.
After almost two decades of dedication, the church will be recognized at QCH’s Annual Celebrating Local Champions Reception on Wednesday, May 2 at the historical West Side Tennis Club.
“We always have someone in mind [for the award] and Saint Luke’s was an obvious candidate,” said Jennifer Weil who is the communications coordinator for the Queens Community House.
Weil added that St. Luke’s mission is unique in that they aim to be an interfaith organization that is extremely involved in the community, which was one of the deciding factors for the organization to honor the church.
Reverend Thomas R. Reese, rector for Saint Luke’s for the past 19 years, will attend the reception on behalf of the church, and said he is both “honored and humbled” that Saint Luke’s is being recognized. Father Reese said that the church has partnered with Queens Community House by donating to their food pantries and providing gifts to families with children during the holidays.
The donated food goes to one of two pantries: one is dedicated to emergency use and is open to people in special cases, such as those who
The other food pantry is open every Wednesday during “regular hours” and is open to anyone who needs it.
Father Reese estimates that about 50 to 60 people in the congregation make donations to QCH during the year, but the number of contributors can reach up to 100 during the holiday season.
Another aspect of the work that St. Luke’s does is the holiday toy drive, during which the church and QCH gives wrapped and labeled gifts to children whose families are in need.
“A lot of feedback I get is that it takes the burden off of them [families] during a stressful time of year,” said Weil. She adds that the donations from the toy drive is “huge for parents” and takes away their financial stress, since the money they save can be used for other necessities.
When the church started running the toy drive, Weil estimated that it helped about 30 families. Currently, Father Reese said that gifts are donated to about 100 to 115 children yearly.
Queens Community House will also award Adolfo Steve Vasquez the Queens Community Builder Award. Vasquez is the founder of Queenscapes, a community-base organization that works to provide photography programs for schools, business and other organizations.
The honors will take place at the West Side Tennis Club at 1 Tennis Place from 6 to 8 p.m.
St. Luke’s has an ongoing relationship with the Queens Community House to support their programs for struggling families and senior citizens in our community. Located on 63rd Drive, the Community House is a settlement house that runs after-school programs, a nursery school, a senior center, and other essential services. Our partnership includes stocking their food pantry and providing holiday gifts for children through our Jesse Tree project.
As a local Citymeals-on-Wheels provider, the Forest Hills Community House is looking for volunteer Friendly Visitors to provide homebound older adults in our community with companionship. Friendly Visitors become a trusted friend with whom the older adult can share life stories and memories. We are looking for warm and caring people who are able to commit once a week for 1-2 hours. Anyone interested should contact Dennis Redmond at email@example.com or 718-592-5757 x223.
Please be generous in your support of this new and vital program that addresses the ongoing challenge of hunger in our area.
Queens Community House:
Forest Hills Interfaith Food Drive:
Episcopal Charities of Long Island:
Episcopal Relief and Development:
The Annual Forest Hills Interfaith Food Drive