FOCUS North America—the “Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve” — recently celebrated its tenth year of service to those affected by poverty across the United States.
FOCUS North America was established as a national movement of Orthodox Christians united in their faith and desire to provide action-oriented and sustainable solutions to poverty in communities coast to coast. FOCUS maintains operations and offers youth volunteer experiences in more than 50 US cities. As an expression of Christ’s love, FOCUS serves the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned by providing food, occupation, clothing, understanding, and shelter.
In conjunction with its tenth anniversary celebration, FOCUS North America’s staff is offering ten ministry ideas parishes, youth groups and organizations might embrace in serving others on the local level, especially during this season of Great Lent.
- Organize a drive for your local food bank. When you drop off the items, ask about other ways you can get involved throughout the year.
- Cook a meal at your local homeless shelter. Don’t be afraid to sit and talk with residents after meal service is done. You might meet a new, life-long friend.
- Volunteer as a tutor for children in need after school. If you live in the Detroit area, check out FOCUS’ work in the local schools.
- Connect with your local women’s shelter. Enquire what their regular needs are and see if your women’s group can offer to help once a month.
- Decorate cards for veterans during Sunday school and deliver them to your local VA office.
- Young professionals – organize a workshop to help craft resumes for job seekers who might need help putting their best foot forward. Host the event at your parish hall or at a local vocational school, shelter, or community center.
- Buy a pack of index cards and write inspirational messages on each one. Keep a few in your purse, pocket, glove box, etc. so when you encounter someone in need of a little extra joy, you’ll have some to spare.
- Host a free community meal once a month at your church. Invite anyone in the community and embrace the chance to serve whoever comes by. Be sure to sit and eat with your visitors – you might be surprised by what you learn from who you meet. If you live in or near Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Saint Paul, Saint Louis, Beaver County or Orange County, check out opportunities available at your local FOCUS center.
- Collect new socks and underwear—simple basics that we often take for granted—for your local homeless shelter.
- Keep $5.00 on hand to give to a homeless stranger or anyone you may meet in a time of need. Challenge yourself to remember, as Saint John Chrysostom writes, that “need alone is a poor man’s worthiness.”
See an idea you like? Take action, especially during Great Lent—and beyond!