Nourishment for the Fredericksburg Community LUCHA's Hunger Relief Ministry

By Caitlyn Furr

I have the privilege of interning with LUCHA ministries this summer through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s (CBF) Student.Go program. After completing CBF’s orientation, I began interning with LUCHA at the beginning of June. I am a graduate student at Emory, seeking a Master’s of Divinity and a Master’s of Public Health. This internship at LUCHA provides me the opportunity to learn about ministry, community development and holistic health all at once. I can’t believe how much I have learned and experienced already!

On Mondays, I participate in LUCHA’s food ministry, which is operated by dedicated volunteers in the community. They arrive at the food bank in Fredericksburg on Monday mornings and spend at least an hour carefully selecting food items to purchase. Once they have selected and paid for the food by pound, they load about 5 shopping carts full of food into their own cars. They drive to Sylvania Heights Baptist Church, which has graciously allowed LUCHA to use its facilities, to sort the food. The volunteers create boxes of food, which include fresh produce, meat, packaged foods, hygiene products, and much more, for families in the community. The volunteers are well-acquainted with the families who will receive the food, so they personalize the boxes to ensure needs are met. For example, if a family has an infant, the volunteers will ensure that family’s box contains diapers. Finally, the volunteers hand deliver boxes to the families in the community. The entire process takes about 4 hours, but many of the same volunteers help every week. I am incredibly impressed with the compassion displayed by LUCHA’s volunteers, and the thoughtfulness they put in to each box they deliver. The program is effective in providing for needs in the community while also encouraging relationship building.

I’ve had the opportunity over the past few weeks to meet various members of the Fredericksburg community who are served by LUCHA. It is clear that they trust and respect LUCHA and its programming. The needs within the community are many, but the community members feel connected to LUCHA and it gives them hope. LUCHA is a place where Latinos in Fredericksburg can turn when they need help, and it works to provide for their needs without judgment. LUCHA is a wonderful example of the love of Christ within the Fredericksburg community. I am grateful to be a part of it this summer, and continue to learn from this ministry.

Each year, the Cinco Panes (Five Loaves) food pantry serves approximately 1,200 persons in need.  Through the years, the ministry has evolved from a more traditional style pantry that provides boxes of groceries  to needy families to a more participatory model where the clients themselves have become the volunteers.  This new model has created a sense of community among many Latino immigrants who otherwise wouldn’t know each other.  The volunteers are Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and Baptist; Puerto Rican, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan; young and not-so-young.  The ministry helps non/limited-English-speaking immigrants gain a greater sense of self worth as they work together for the greater good of the Latino community.  And it gives parents and youth the opportunity to work together.  During the past year, over 70 persons have served as volunteer.

A Beloved Community Project Adelante helps families move forward

During the height of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke about the idea of the Beloved Community.

This type of society wasn’t based on unattainable ideals but could be achieved by the love of neighbors and promoting American principles of equality and justice. It was a place where everyone was valued no matter what they looked like, how much money they made or where they came from.

In the Beloved Community, everyone had worth.

Through my work with LUCHA, I’ve seen a small sample of this type of community. For the last few months, I’ve been involved with Project Adelante, an empowerment program that helps families move forward.

The program began in 2012 when a local chemist had an idea to take his hobby of soap-making and use it to teach economic empowerment to immigrant families. It started off slowly with a few families learning how to make soap from scratch.

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Others got involved and started teaching crochet classes. Soon the program grew to include CPR with Red Cross certification, painting and English pronunciation.

The classes teach more than language or new skills. They instill self-confidence. For many immigrants, coming to a new country poses fresh challenges. They miss their homes and families. They have fear of people making fun of them when they try to speak English. They have to navigate new systems and bureaucracies including school, health care and social services. Many lose a sense of communal togetherness they had in Latin American culture and feel lonely, isolated and depressed.

What sticks out to me about Project Adelante is everyone moves forward together. People take turns being volunteers, translators, teachers and students. No one is seen as a “charity case” because everyone has their problems and their contributions. We work to solve problems like loneliness, culture shock and economic need and transform them into solidarity, self-confidence and neighborly love.

It’s not charity. It’s empowerment. My self-esteem has grown since helping with the program. I’ve learned skills I never thought I could do before. I’ve found a second family with people who come from over six diverse countries.

Students become teachers, translators become learners, children join in on the party. Everyone is welcome.

At Project Adelante, a small taste of Dr. King’s beloved community has come true.

“But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” -MLK

To learn more about how your family can move forward visit here:  7 steps to move forward in English, in español

Help LUCHA by donating to the Community Give on May 5! All proceeds will benefit Project Adelante.

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Ms. Ann supports LUCHA by teaching crochet to mothers.
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Why do I support Project Adelante? “The women are PHENOMENAL!! Write that all caps with lots of exclamations. I love them like they’re my daughters.”
We just like helping people. It's fun to do.
We just like helping people. It’s fun to do.
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“The most important part to me is we are blessed and have learnt something new.”
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I support LUCHA… “because I saw in LUCHA Ministries a genuineness to serve others through the love of God.”

 

 

7 Pasos para Seguir Adelante Community Give #give15

En LUCHA, creemos que cada persona tiene valor. Proyecto Adelante empodera a las familias para mejorar sus vidas.

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7 pasos que avancen a las familias:

1. Aprender una habilidad

Nuestras familias han aprendido primeros auxilios, computación, crochet, pintura, química y la fabricación de jabón.

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2. Aprender una idioma

Nuestros familias asisten las clases de ingés,  pronunciación y se alfabetizan a las personas que no saben leer o escribir en español.Spanish1

3. Crear Comunidad

Proyecto Adelante incluye a las familias de muchos países, como El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, India y los Estados Unidos. Somos una familia global.

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4. Compartir un plato

Después de cada clase las familias comen y beben juntos. Es un momento de solidaridad y amor.

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5. Enseñar una clase

Nuestras familias son muy talentosas. Después de aprender una  habilidad, enseñan nuevas habilidades a los demás.
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6. Alcanzar sus sueños

Nuestras familias tienen sueños grandes. Algunos quieren tener su propio negocio. Otros quieren que sus hijos vayan a estudiar a la universidad. Trabajemos juntos para alcanzar nuestras metas.

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7. Incluir toda la familia

Desde bebés a ancianos, Proyecto Adelante tiene espacio para toda la familia.

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1Cgive (2)LUCHA está en un concurso en Facebook y Twitter. Ayúdenos a ganar compartiendo nuestro video y fotos.

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7 steps to move forward Community Give 2015

At LUCHA, we believe every person has value with something unique to offer the community. Project Adelante empowers families to share their gifts, realize their worth and improve their lives.

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7 ways your family can move forward

Step 1: 

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Project Adelante is about trying skills you thought you couldn’t do. Our families have learned CPR, crocheting, painting, chemistry and soap-making.

Step 2: 

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For many immigrants, learning English is difficult. Project Adelante helps by providing pronunciation and grammar classes. We also help with literacy for Spanish speakers who have not learned to read or write in Spanish.

Step 3: 

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Project Adelante is comprised of families from all over the world including El Salvador, Mexico, India, Honduras and the United States. While learning together, a global family is born.

Step 4: 

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After every class, families share a meal, often bringing food they prepared at home. It is a time of fellowship and love.

Step 5: 

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Our families are made up of talented individuals. Many teach their own classes after learning new skills from others.

Step 6:  

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Our families have big dreams. Some want to own a business. Others want to send their kids to college. At Adelante families work together to reach their goals.

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Whether babies just learning to walk, high schoolers about to graduate or grandparents relaxing in rocking chairs, Project Adelante is a place for everyone.

Join Fredericksburg for the Community Give and support Project Adelante here! 

 

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