During this global pandemic, much of what was once routine in our lives is now unknown. For some, the “unknown” is how they will ensure a stable food supply with enough to eat every day. Food insecurity has exploded among communities large and small. In our own town of Westfield, a group of school principals, teachers, nurses, and related staff have identified at least 30 families who need food support. As a church, we feel compelled to step in and help our neighbors. We have developed a plan to provide these families with a weekly box of staples – fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, jar/canned goods, cereal, rice/potatoes/pasta, body wash, and laundry detergent.
Coronavirus Update: Agape Community Kitchen
Due to the health risks posed by the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, Agape Community Kitchen has suspended our usual Wednesday evening dinner program. The decision to suspend service deeply grieves us. We love our neighbors and want everyone to be able to enjoy a hot, nutritious meal in the company of people who love them. On March 25, 2020 we gave our guests $20 gift cards to a local fast food restaurant, anticipating that this may buy them more than one hot meal. If the health crisis continues, we will work to find other creative means to provide a hot meal to our neighbors in Elizabeth.
In the mean time, if you are hungry and you need a meal, we have a few resources we can suggest:
- St. Joseph Service Center (118 Division St., Elizabeth) continues to distribute sandwiches daily, Monday – Friday from 9:00-12noon; 1:00-4:00pm and Saturday from 9:00-11:00am.
- Meal Distribution is happening every Monday – Saturday from 12:00-2:00pm at two locations in Elizabeth: O’Donnell Dempsey Center (618 Salem Ave, Elizabeth) and Stephen Sampson Center (800 Anna St., Elizabeth).
If you are an Agape volunteer (or want to become one!), we urge you to consider a donation to one of the following agencies, each of which serves our neighbors in Elizabeth and will need our support during these difficult times. If you wish to support Agape more directly, consider participating in the clothing drive (May 17-21, 2020 - just leave your bagged donations in the white church van at PCW during these dates), or you make a donation to Agape online on the church website. These organizations need our help:
- The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless
- St. Joseph Social Service Center (they list grocery items you can buy and bring to them, if you can safely get to the store during your regular shopping trips).
- The Gateway YMCA
- Consider supporting FISH Hospitality Network, an organization you are likely already familiar with as a ministry of Westfield Presbyterian Church. Although they do not directly serve our Agape guests, they serve very vulnerable children and families and will need your support during this time.
Invite, Grow, Serve
As Christians we are moved to serve in love those in our community both near and far. We are very active in hands-on mission work locally and internationally. We run the Agape Community Kitchen in Elizabeth, serving dinner to a few hundred guests each week. Agape, which opened in 2000, offers leadership and service opportunities to our youth and adults. Our annual Youth Rebuilding Hope mission trips - attended by our high school students and a group of supporting adults - respond to disaster assistance needs across our country. Internationally, we have partnered with a congregation in Livingstone, Zambia. We support our fellow Christians in Zambia through prayer, through visits to help us better understand and support each other and through fundraisers to assist the congregation with on going projects.