There are many hands-on opportunities to get involved in mission at First United. Some take a regular commitment and some are short-term projects. Our Fourth Sunday collections, when all loose offerings are directed to an outside group, help with a specific project or agency.
Taking action: Sometimes peace vigils are held on the steps of the church, or people involved in a social justice issue will travel to Springfield or even Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and work for a specific cause. For information on these or any other mission projects, contact Naa Marteki Reed, chair of the Faith in Action Committee (email@example.com), 630-863-1511, or talk to any of the members of the committee or its subcommittees.
Alternative Christmas Store: Rethink gift giving by shopping to help others on Advent Sundays. Find beautiful items from around the world, from small ornaments to scarves. Consumable favorites include Erie House pecans, fair trade chocolate and coffee, and Palestinian olive oil. Among the groups that benefit are Church World Service, Colores del Pueblo, SERVV International, and the church’s Mission Partners. For more information or to volunteer, contact Laurie Jolicoeur (firstname.lastname@example.org), 708-822-0265, or Jamie Shamhart (email@example.com), 312-925-4996.
Cluster Tutoring: (clustertutoring.org) The tutoring program always needs new tutors, as there is always a waiting list of students. There is orientation and training for new tutors each September. It’s a weekly commitment of 90 minutes during the school year, and the rewards are seeing a child come alive with learning. Those who can’t make it weekly can be substitute tutors or help in the library. Interested volunteers can contact the program for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FURST: The First United Refugee Support Team is learning ways to help our sponsored family of six from Iraq. The family lived in a refugee camp in Turkey for eight years before finally being able to move to the United States. They live in Skokie, all four kids are enrolled in school, and the parents are taking English classes and participating in programs through Refugee One. Anyone who is interested in joining the FURST team can contact Charlie Morris (email@example.com), 917-763-1647, Leah Beckwith (firstname.lastname@example.org), 708-386-4809, or John Chapman-Rienstra (email@example.com), 708-655-8114.
Housing Forward: (housingforward.org) First United hosts clients from PADS, Housing Forward’s emergency shelter, during cold weather months on Monday nights. Volunteers from our church help run the shelter on third and fifth Mondays. There are volunteer opportunities for evening, overnight, or morning shifts. Contact First United liaisons Matt Kemper (firstname.lastname@example.org), 312-320-1285, or Stephanie Schrodt (email@example.com), 312-451-5101. In addition, each fall, the Housing Subcommittee of Faith in Action holds an annual “House to Home” drive, where congregation members donate furnishings for Housing Forward clients’ apartments.
Kids’ Kloset: Interested in sorting and sizing clothes, or working with our clients? Contact Susan Zaruba (firstname.lastname@example.org), 708-386-8405. Children’s clothing donations can be left in the bin in the lounge during business hours, on Sundays or anytime the building is open. We accept all sizes of children’s clothing, jackets, boots, etc., and partner with the Food Pantry for distributions.
Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry: (oprffoodpantry.org) This agency, which feeds 15,000 families a year, needs helpers each week on Wednesday afternoons or evenings and on Saturday mornings. There are various shifts and jobs available, from stocking food to rescuing excess food donated by local merchants to checking in clients to helping carry bags out to clients’ cars. Contact the food pantry to volunteer. Volunteers, who can be as young as middle-school age, first attend an orientation session. Those who aren’t able to volunteer can help by making a monetary donation or a donation of non-perishable food.
Sponsor-a-Family Holiday Gift Baskets: Through the Community of Congregations, First United sponsors 100 people each November and December to receive gifts. These are local needy families and individuals, including many seniors, who otherwise may not receive any gifts during the holidays. Volunteers have the chance to sign up for an individual name or a whole family to purchase gifts that are delivered in mid-December. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Sher Watts Spooner (email@example.com), 708-383-4408.