Grocery trip results in outreach
April 19 2002 by Craig Bird , BR Correspondent

Grocery trip results in outreach | Friday, April 19, 2002
  • An intensive mentoring program is flourishing with almost 40 St. John's members involved;
  • Members teach life skills classes on everything from filling out the U.S. income tax form to how the American government is organized;
  • Each young man was given a bicycle (to save on transportation costs);
  • A former Second Harvest store room is filled with donations of clothes, small appliances, food and other items, all carefully organized and fairly distributed by need;
  • Medical and dental problems, complicated by years of malnutrition and neglect have been corrected (some required extensive surgery);
  • Dianne Green, a former parish nurse, provides first call medical advice and trains volunteers how to spot medical problems;
  • The difficulties of getting into the American education system are shared, if not always solved, by St. John's volunteers.

    There are more.

    "It is difficult for us to imagine what horrors these young men have lived through," Taylor said. "It is even more difficult for us to realize that, in many ways, living in this land of safety and prosperity can be just as frightening."

  • Friday, April 19, 2002

    Grocery trip results in outreach

    By Craig Bird BR Correspondent

    It all started with a simple trip to the grocery store. At least as simple as a mom toting three young children to shop can be. But as Martha Kearse navigated the Harris-Teeter aisles she befriended six young men who were bewildered by the strange food surrounding them.

    "I'd seen a 60 Minutes report and read in the New York Times about the Sudanese who were being relocated to America after years of struggle and trauma," Kearse said. "I just recognized that that must be who they were."

    She introduced herself, invited them to St. John's and gave them the church's phone number and her home number, "in case we can help you in any way."

    They called. And St. John's could - and soon was reaching out to 37 young immigrants.

    For a while it was a two-woman show after Kearse drafted her good friend (also a mother of three young children) Maggie Bond by commenting, "these guys are starving."

    Bond immediately skipped Sunday School to make the round of adult classes and challenge each to fill up an envelope with money. With more than $600 in donations, the women took the group to a discount food store and to a produce market.

    "Then we realized they didn't know how to cook and had never really been around canned food or boxes," Kearse said. There were medical needs, transportation needs, educational needs, etc.

    Bond "basically turned my time and my family over to the Sudanese" for the whole summer, picking up some donations in her husband's pick-up and scouting for others (she got some large size tennis shoes from the NBA Charlotte Hornets).

    But the task threatened to overwhelm them.

    Caroletta Partain "saw these two young mothers wearing themselves out" and teamed with Dana Packman to help. Partain would teach life skills while Packman arranged transportation. Even then, "it became clear we needed more help and needed to get organized," Partain said.

    Enter Blythe Taylor, the church's associate pastor and "terribly organized."

    Since then:

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    4/19/2002 12:00:00 AM by Craig Bird , BR Correspondent | with 0 comments
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