Right after the new year, several DPC members traveled to Honduras with Discovery Service Projects to help build a boys dormitory for a orphanage. The trip was eye-opening and inspirational, and allowed them to experience God’s love for His children in exciting ways.
A special thank you to the 88 volunteers who packed 846 meals at Doylestown Presbyterian on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. We set a record and were able to pack more than 200 more meals than have ever been put together in years past!
See what our missionaries in Peru, Jed and Jenny Koball, have been up to recently. Much of their work focuses on PCUSA Young Adult Volunteers and focusing on justice issues that affect the people of Peru, including the effects of climate change and fair trade. To view their newsletter, click here.
Having just moved their young family to Nicaragua in the summer of 2014, Justin and Renee Sundberg have been adjusting to life in a new country and helping those in great need. Read their latest newsletter here.
While looking forward to all of the Christmas blessings soon to be in front of them, the children in Club 456 remembered those around the world who will not get any gifts for the holidays, packing 50 boxes filled with presents for young people living in third world countries through a project called "Operation Christmas Child." A program of Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child sends these boxes to children living in the far corners of the world by any means possible - including by plane, boat, car, and camel's backs. The kids who receive these gifts will often not receive anything else for Christmas, and this is a true blessing for them. Club 456 has participated in this project for many years now, and it is always a highlight of the year for the group.
After spending time learning about how difficult life in poverty is for thousands of Navajo children living on Native American reservations in New Mexico, the children in Club 456 made about a dozen colorful fleece tie blankets for elementary school students living in the Navajo Nation. Many of these young people live at their schools during the week because it is too far to travel back and forth to their homes, and many of their homes to not have electricity, running water, or enough food to eat. Because they do not have a lot of their own belongings and it can be difficult for them to be away for their families, the children find that these blankets are a way to make their bunks feel a little more like home while keeping them warm during the cold desert nights.
DPC's mission partner, Face to Face, was recently featured on CBS news for their important work in serving the homeless community in North Philadelphia. Their many services, including a dining hall, a law center, a health center, children's programs, and an art program, are changing the lives of those who are in what can often feel like hopeless circumstances. To see the CBS clip and learn more about Face to Face, click here.
A group of DPC members and friends collected food and financial donations in support of US Troops serving over seas at a recent event in March featuring speaker Mary Previte, who was the child of missinoaires in Japan and was taken as a prisoner of war at the age of 5 during WWII. The food donations are a comforting reminder of home, and each care package is sent with a note of love and appreciation.
Right after Christmas, a group of 10 volunteers from DPC traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer with Rice and Beans Ministry with a local group called Discovery Service Projects. Below is a poignant reflection written by Mary Shull right before coming back to the States from Costa Rica.
As I sit here in Alajuela, I hear the sounds of trucks, cars, sirens, and construction machines as a group of Discovery Service Project volunteers sit with bags packed awaiting our transport back to the airport. This week in Costa Rica has been deeply moving in many ways for me. During our time, we had the opportunity to work on a number of important projects, including constructing the foundation for an earthquake proof dining hall/family life center for the local residents and volunteers; painting the inside and of a local pastor's home before he and his family moved in; leading Vacation Bible School for children who were out of school on a break; and working with Rice and Beans Ministry.
I think that working with Rice and Beans Ministry impacted me the most. On three different days, we packed large white cloth bags that children from DPC helped to decorate with two bags of beans, one large bag of rice, one bag of cornmeal, and one bag of dried milk powder. This is enough food to feed a family of five for one week. These bags were then loaded into a van, and we all went into neighboring villages. We divided into groups of six, with a staff translator in each group. We then went door to door in very poor communities - some whose houses only had dirt floors. Many of these residents had never left their neighborhoods in their entire lives. Upon arriving at a home, our Spanish speaking staff member would yell "Hola" until a family member would come to the door. We, as volunteers, would take turns explaining (with a translator) why we were there, saying something like, "We come in God's name and in His love. We represent no particular church. We are here to give you this bag of food if you will accept it. We would also like to pray with you if you would like." To my total shock and surprise, most of the residents would then open their doors and invite us into their homes! We asked them if there was anything specific that they would like us to pray for. Again, most were surprisingly open, as they shared intimate prayer requests with us. We then held hands in a circle with these families and prayed together. One woman shared with us that her 13 year old daughter had already had two liver transplants and was awaiting a third. She then showed us her daughter's very large scar with archaic looking stitches on her abdomen. Another talked in depth about her and her family's struggles. Along with the rice and beans, we handed out treats to the children, and one little boy who received a mechanical pencil jumped up and down and yelled out, "Gracias!" He was so excited and acted like we had just given him a computer! The families, for the most part, were so very gracious and thankful for the rice and beans. By the time we left one home, I was overcome with emotion and tears as I heard their stories of need and witnessed the extreme poverty surrounding each family.
On reflection, I ask – how much are we really helping? The task seems overwhelming. We were able to accomplish a lot through the building project, VBS, and the Rice and Beans bags, but the shared time of fellowship and prayer on this trip was invaluable, both for those we came to help and for myself. This was my first experience traveling to a third world country and interacting with the beautiful men, women, and children in Costa Rica. I am so much more aware than I was before this trip. I see how very much I have, and I feel a call to simplify my lifestyle. I know that when I think of Costa Rica, I will remember the faces of the children, women, and men that I had the privilege of meeting. I hope and pray that I will change more of my lifestyle and be evermore mindful of our neighbors in other parts of the world.
This summer, Delaware Valley College teamed up with Philabundance and the Bucks County Opportunity Council to run a charitable garden. Eighty percent of the produce grown is donated to local food pantries so that families in need have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, which are often cost prohibitive. Members from DPC volunteered to help with weeding and harvesting tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash in the garden two times during the month of July. Much of the food went to the New Britain Food Larder and the Bucks County Housing Group, two pantries which the congregation supports on a regular basis.
On July 20, a group from DPC volunteered with The Other Carpenter, a program of Habitat for Humanity of Philadelphia that aims to help repair and restore properties owned by low-income individuals. The DPC volunteers were part of a week-long project called "Building on Faith," which brought together people from a handful of area churches to help revitalize a block of West Stiles Street in Philadelphia. They worked on various projects, including painting, clearing debris from lots, and mixing and pouring concrete for a new sidewalk. We will be making a return trip to Philadelphia to volunteer with the Other Carpenter on September 21, and hope others will consider joining us. No experience is necessary – just a willingness to learn and desire to help others! For more information or to sign up, contact Erin Rizk in the church office.
DPC's children came together this summer for Vacation Bible School. The theme was "In God's Backyard," and part of the focus for the week was the importance of taking care of those in need who are living in our community. While learning about God's call for us to take care of all our neighbors, the children and their parents collected 309 pounds of food and 18 bags filled with birthday cake supplies for the Doylestown Food Pantry. They also brought in items to donate to Cradles to Crayons, and organization that supplies toys, clothing, school supplies, and other "slightly used" items to homeless children in Philadelphia. There will be an opportunity for the kids and their families to volunteer at Cradles to Crayons at the end of August so that they can see where their donations went and help out in a more hands-on way. Way to go, VBS!
This year, Doylestown Presbyterian Church's mission committee is sponsoring four young girls in Pakistan so that they may attend secondary school. Most girls in Pakistan are not able to attend school, or must drop out at a very young age because of social and family obligations, or because an education is financially beyond their means. As a result, many young women are uneducated and unable to read, and continue to be repressed. Because Pakistan is 95% Muslim, Christian children also face barriers in being able to practice and learn about their faith. The Presbyterian Education Board's schools provide young girls in Pakistan the opportunity to get a quality education informed by Christian values, regardless of their ability to pay. Please click here to read profiles for two of the students DPC is sponsoring.
DPC members made a trip to the Jersey Shore this summer to help home owners in Manasquan with continued restoration work on their homes. Working with the organization M.O.V.E. based out of First Presbyterian Church of Manasquan, the group worked on a number of projects with different homeowners. Work included creating and installing a hatch door to help reach new electric equipment, painting baseboards, moving furniture, and planting new landscaping. While many have recovered already from Superstorm Sandy, many families are still struggling to pick up the pieces and return their lives back the way they were and will continue to do so for years to come.
During the week that Adult Vacation Bible School met at DPC, attendees collected snacks for children living at the Bucks County Housing Group's homeless shelter who are attending camp at the YMCA this summer. While they all receive a scholarship to attend the program, they must provide their own snacks for the day, which can be a hardship. In addition to the snacks, members of our congregation donated bathing suits for the children living in Apartment 5, of which DPC is a sponsor, so that they may swim while at camp each day.
May 31, 2013
For the second time, the Special Performers Prom was held at Doylestown Presbyterian Church in Fellowship Hall this spring. Based in Doylestown, Special Performers is a nonprofit organization that strives to cultivate inclusion for the disabled community and hosts a dance once a month to give these young people a chance to spend time together, have fun, and learn to dance. The Prom is the biggest event of the year for Special Performers, and includes festive decorations, pictures, a sit-down served dinner, and dancing. The dancers and volunteers who attended all had a great experience and enjoyed their time together.
We are blessed to be able to share our new space with Special Performers, who is doing such meaningful work in our community. Such opportunities to assist outside groups will only grow as a result of our renovated and accessible facilities.
May 16, 2013
This May, the SAM group at DPC came together for a luncheon and presentation on the life and art of Normal Rockwell. As a way to give back to the community during the event, many participants brought art supplies to donate to Face to Face, a social service organization located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia that works to meet the needs of homeless and struggling individuals. The materials will help with the organization's Neighborhood Arts Project, which gives both adults and children who visit Face to Face the opportunity to express themsevles through the visual arts.
Our congregation has long participated in Alternative Giving at Christmastime as a way to support organizations doing good while shopping for gifts for our loved ones. This year, we decided to adopt this same idea for Mother's Day and sell cards to support Tabor Children's Services in Doylestown, thus honoring our own mothers and grandmothers while at the same time helping those in need in the community. Over 2 weeks, DPC raised $270, which will help to purchase diapers, formula, and other baby supplies for at-risk children and mothers in our area. We hope to be able to continue to support organizations doing important work for those in need in our community through Alternative Giving during special holidays.
A group of 12 DPC members traveled to Schoharie, NY for a four-day mission trip in April to help repair homes damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irene. On the third trip members of our congregation have made to Schoharie, they installed plumbing lines, a toilet, and a vanity in a bathroom, gutted part of a house down to the studs, cleared debris off of land where a barn once stood, and painted a large three bay garage. Many of the owners of the homes on which they worked shared their heart-wrenching stories of living through Hurricane Irene and expressed their heartfelt appreciation for our congregation's help and support. It was a renewing and inspirational experience for all those who attended. To view additional pictures from the trip, please visit the DPC Events and Services page on Shutterfly.com. If you would like to be a member of the page, please contact Lorri Camilleri in the church office.
March 16, 2013
A group of DPC members made a trip to West Philadelphia in March to help make repairs to a home through the Christian organization The Other Carpenter, which is now an arm of Habitat for Humanity. The group replaced 3 windows in an upstairs bedroom, dry-walled a closet on the first floor, and partially replaced the living room ceiling with new dry-wall. The home-owner worked alongside the group to make the repairs, giving them an opportunity to get to know her. The next mission trip to Philadelphia with The Other Carpenter will be on Saturday, June 15.
March 2, 2013
This winter, the Presbyterian Women's group collected over 350 purses for a fundraising event on March 2 to benefit Change Purse, an organization that works to fight human trafficking. The event raised $950, which Change Purse distributed to faith-based organizations that work directly with potential and rescued victims, as well as survivors, of sex trafficking.
January 12, 2013
At the Presbyterian Women Funcheon this past month, attendees pooled their resources together to help support mothers living on Native American reservations in New Mexico who are part of the F.A.C.E., program, which provides educational and family support to young Navajo children and their mothers. Living in one of the poorest counties in the country, many of these women struggle to provide even the basics for their families and have no formal education to help them get out of the cycle of poverty in which they are stuck. In an effort to help them get on their feet, PW filled a basket with baby care materials worth over $600, as well as collected $575 to help fund G.E.D. tests for women enrolled in the program.
Thank you to everyone who used their day "off" as a day "on" and volunteered for one of our MLK Day service opportunities in January. Over 85 DPC members of all ages participated, in addition to many who offered their time and talents in other places. A large group traveled to Broad Street Ministries over the holiday weekend, where we served a meal to struggling and homeless individuals and helped hand out clothing in their clothes closet. Another DPC group offered a hand at Bucks County Housing Group in Doylestown organizing and stocking their food pantry, and many others packed over 600 meals for Aid for Friends in the Andrews Hall kitchen. This was a wonderful opportunity to show care and concern for those in need in our community!
January 9, 2013
With winter upon us, Club 456 recently worked to warm the hearts of homebound elderly residents in our community. The children spent an evening helping to make several types of soup for Aid for Friends, and everyone created greeting cards to accompany the meals. In addition to their gifts for Aid for Friends, the young people created place mats to go on the trays of patients at St. Mary's Medical Center.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, Doylestown Presbyterian Church members took time to remember those in need in our surrounding community. In just a few short weeks, the congregation collected over 1,000 pairs of underwear and other items for Undie Sunday, which were donated to guests of Broad Street Ministries in Philadelphia; assembled 65 hygiene kits for Hurricane Sandy victims; provided 155 gifts for Aid for Friends' Holiday Gifts of Warmth for the homebound elderly; and contributed 135 Christmas gifts to people in our community who are in need this holiday season through the church's Giving Trees. This is in addition to all of the wonderful food donations that continued to come in to support our local food pantries. Many DPC members also chose to purchase gifts for their loved ones and friends at the Alternative Giving Market during Advent, helping to support many great charitable organizations, including Heifer International, World Vision, PalCraft Aid, Habitat for Humanity, Nothing but Nets, Americans for Native Americans, and a handful of others.
Many thanks to everyone who helped to make these mission endeavors a success!
November 19, 2012
In the beginning of September, the Doylestown Food Pantry, run by the Bucks County Housing Group, was running extremely low on food for the nearly 500 families it serves each month, and they issued a call of help to the community. In response, our youth in Club 456 and Element sprung in to action and collected over 300 pounds of food during September and October. A group of teens helped to deliver the collected items to the food pantry the week of Thanksgiving and spent time volunteering to organize and stock shelves. There was a lot to be done. Since the pantry's call for help just a few short months ago, they have received nearly 25,000 of food in just November alone!
November 18, 2012
Amidst a hectic week filled with shopping, cooking, and preparing for Thanksgiving, a group of 10 DPC adults and children spent time the weekend before the holiday packing baskets of Thanksgiving food at the Bucks County Housing Group in Penndel for those in our community who struggle with hunger. Over 400 families received baskets this year, 130 of which DPC had the opportunity to assemble.
October 14, 2012
DPC members of all ages participated in the Doylestown area CROP Walk on Sunday, October 14 as a way to raise money and awareness about the countless people who are hungry in our community and around the world. The 6-mile walk around Doylestown is meant to be representative of the long distances that millions of people must travel each day to get clean water, food, and fuel and is a way for us to stand in solidarity with them.
In addition to Doylestown Presbyterian Church, 15 other local congregations participated in the walk. There were 18 participants from DPC, and in total we were able ot raise $1,085 to fight hunger.
September 26, 2012
This past week, many families in our church chose to use a day off of school to give back to those in need in our community. Eight children and their parents volunteered at Cradles to Crayons in West Conshohocken to sort and organize toys for homeless and at-need children living in Philadelphia.Everyone had a great time together and enjoyed the opportunity to help others.
September 23, 2012
After church on Sunday, September 23, four members of DPC volunteered to serve lunch to almost 200 hungry and homeless individuals living in Germantown, PA, through an organization called Face to Face. Face to Face treats all of those in need of a meal as guests, and offers a full sit-down meal that the volunteers prepare and serve. Guests are invited to come a couple of hours before the meal is served to spend some time interacting with each other, playing board games, drinking coffee, or just generally relaxing in a safe, warm environment. This is also a time for volunteers to get to know the clients at Face to Face.
In addition to offering meals to the hungry, Face to Face provides many other services in areas like social services, law, health, arts, and education. There are many ways for our congregation to get involved at Face to Face, helping those in our community in need.
September 16 - 19
A group of DPC members and friends traveled to Schoharie, New York, September 16th-19th to lend a hand with repair work desperately needed after many homes and other buildings were damaged in Hurricane Irene last fall.
The group was hosted by Middleburgh Methodist Church, and spent a good portion of the week removing debris from a home that had realized about 5 feet of water to the first floor. They were also able to complete all of the rough plumbing, moving the homeowner closer to being able to insulate and drywall. The homeowner, a young father, hopes to celebrate Christmas there this year.
The volunteers spent the second portion of the week stripping paneling and removing insulation from a building that originally housed the Schoharie fire department. The owner, Ben, is determined to do his part to revitalize the downtown area of the village.
The group had wonderful weather and was grateful for the hospitality from the Lady of the Valley Catholic Church and the Methodist church where they stayed. They are hoping to return in the spring for another trip.
Doylestown Presbyterian Church has been a long time supporter of the Bucks County Housing Group, which provides transitional housing and assistance to homeless families in Bucks County. This past year, our congregation provided the funding to replace the stairwell leading to second-floor apartments at BCHG's Doylestown site, which was in disrepair, not up to code, and dangerous for all of the families who used it each day. The work was completed in late August, and the families and staff at BCHG are extremely grateful for the new safe and sturdy staircase that DPC made possible.
In addition to the financial support provided through DPC's mission committee for this and similar projects in the past, DPC supports the Bucks County Housing Group's families in other ways. This fall, youth participating in Club 456 and Element will be collecting much-needed food for the organization's food pantry, and each year hundreds of families participate in the Giving Tree through the Alternative Giving program, giving members the opportunity to purchase Christmas gives for those less fortunate during the holidays.
July 22-28, 2012
A group of 24 DPC youth and adult leaders loaded up the church vans in mid-July and headed to Tyrand Cooperative Ministries in Mill Creek, West Virginia to spend a week giving back to those in need in the Tygart Valley region of the state. Throughout the trip, the group was able to participate in a variety of projects that made a significant impact, including painting the exterior of an elderly woman’s home, garage, and porch and replacing a portion of the siding; rebuilding the walls of a church that had been demolished by strong summer storms; constructing a set of outdoor stairs for a woman’s trailer and installing a slanted roof above her home in order to keep the snow from piling up on her trailer in the wintertime; re-painting the town's youth health services building; replacing a concrete walkway at Tyrand Ministries; and planning and creating a large wooden shelter to house a family’s rabbits. In addition to this hard work, the group had the opportunity to share in fellowship and develop long-lasting friendships.
July 11, 2012
During this summer’s Vacation Bible School, the children had the special opportunity to meet Veeda Javaid, the executive director of the Presbyterian Education Board (PEB), an organization in the Punjab region of Pakistan that provides a Christian education for children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to school or learn about Christ. Veeda told the children about Pakistan and the schools, as well as what life is like for the children who live there as compared to in America. The VBS students had the opportunity to ask Veeda questions throughout the presentation.
Both the children and adults were very impacted by Veeda’s presentation and decided one way they could help was to collect stuffed animals and books to send to the children living at the PEB boarding schools. In addition, Julia, Olivia, and Sophia Ferrara donated the proceeds of their lemonade stand to the cause after hearing about the needs of the Christian young people living in Pakistan.
DPC first connected with the Presbyterian Education Board last spring through the Presbyterian Women’s group and was instantly drawn towards the good work of this organization. Started by Presbyterian missionaries in the late nineteenth century, the Presbyterian Education Board also supports the SHE project, which strives to intervene in situations of abuse and violence towards children and women in Pakistan.
DPC hopes to continue to develop its relationship with the Presbyterian Education Board. For more information on the organization, please click here.
June 1, 2012
This summer DPC opened the doors of our Fellowship Hall to a wonderful group of young adults for the Special Performers Prom. Based in Doylestown, Special Performers is a nonprofit organization that strives to cultivate inclusion for the disabled community and hosts a dance once a month to give these young people a chance to spend time together, have fun, and learn to dance. The Prom is the biggest event of the year for Special Performers, and includes festive decorations, pictures, a sit-down served dinner, and dancing. The dancers and volunteers who attended all had a great experience and enjoyed their time together.
We are blessed to be able to share our new space with Special Performers, who is doing such meaningful work in our community. Such opportunities to assist outside groups will only grow as a result of our renovated and accessible facilities.