OV church finds its outreach - The Explorer: El Sol

OV church finds its outreach

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Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:15 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Resurrection Lutheran Church always has had a strong emphasis on community outreach.

When new senior pastor Rick Hartmann came to the Oro Valley congregation in July 2008, the emphasis became even greater. The Rev. Hartmann and a couple dozen Resurrection members visited Interfaith Community Services offices two weeks later for a first-hand look its widespread services.

"I think Curt (Balko, the church's director of volunteer and new member services) had that luncheon meeting set up before I arrived in Arizona," chuckles Hartmann, whose outreach theme is service to others.

His reaction after the visit? "Wow! It was very positive. We're grateful and thankful for people who can do that (multiple-activity) kind of work with such passion and commitment."

Hartmann believes ICS is a well-run organization – "ministers of great integrity, and we trust them the resources we give them." He is very pleased with the partnership with ICS, "which can do so many things well that we as one congregation can not do. For us, the hunger issue (a sizeable part of the ICS program) is a big one."

In addition to its still-growing 56 faith communities, ICS has more than 600 volunteers working on its ongoing program: social services (including food bank and emergency financial assistance) and senior and caregiving services (including mobile meals, health advocacy, transportation and phone calls/visits).

In calendar 2009, ICS provided 49,708 individual services to 36,300 clients. More than 98 percent of them fall under the federal poverty guidelines.

Resurrection has been involved in ICS activities since 1994, according to Balko, and involvement continues to steadily grow. The church's 1,200 members are reminded in the monthly newsletter of ICS activities and potential volunteerism.

"This will be the second straight year that October will be ICS Month at Resurrection," said Balko, who points out placing most ICS activities involving the 1,200-member congregation in that month help intensify the focus. "Again, we're seeking diapers – 15,000 is our goal – along with infant formula, toddlers' juice and baby food."

Last year's 12,000 diapers contributed by members and others attending special events helped ICS fulfill its diaper need for clients for the last three months 2009, notes ICS executive director Bonnie Kampa.

The church newsletter has a full-page update each month on ICS activities, according to Helen Siglin, Resurrection's coordinator with the 25-year-old organization. She also helps coordinate the 38 members who volunteer with ICS — almost half of them in the mobile meals, food bank and transportation areas.

"Involvement with organizations like ICS, I believe, is the end result of your faith," said Siglin, who receives once a week updates on various needs from Kampa and her associates. Balko adds he and the other faith community representatives attend monthly leadership meetings at ICS to brainstorm and plan future activities. General meetings for all faith communities are held every two months.

Two Resurrection food collections each year (600 bags of groceries shared by ICS, Catalina Community Services and Tucson Food Bank), a "noisy (coin) offering" at Thanksgiving, and a "Souper Sunday" collection by the youth the day of the NFL title game, help fund ICS activities. The congregation also makes ICS part of its annual benevolence budget, he says.

"There's no doubt about it – Resurrection is definitely an ICS congregation," offers Balko, who lists Youth on Their Own, Gap Ministries, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Missions-World Hunger efforts as the congregation's other strong outreach involvements.

ICS has slots for big fund-raising golf tourney Nov. 11

Interfaith Community Services has openings in its 2010 "We Care" Golf Classic, to be held Thursday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, at the Omni Tucson National Resort.

The fund-raiser generates money to help Pima County families who struggle to make ends meet.

The $150 tournament fee per player includes a Mexican buffet at the end of play. Golfers can register online at www.icstucson.org or call 297-6049.

Last year's tournament, with 205 golfers, was the resort's biggest in 2009.

ICS is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since 1985, it has provided food and emergency financial assistance to Pima County residents in need and has mobilized volunteers to assist seniors and disabled people with Mobile Meals, transportation, home repairs, calls and visits, and health and safety referrals and advocacy.

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