The Aldersgate Sunday school class at First United Methodist Church invests in the well-being of the local community.
by Lisa Tramontana
Aldersgate is the name of the street in London where John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, was converted. It marks the spot where he stood when God spoke to his heart. It’s fitting then, that a local Sunday school class, known for its strong faith, also carries that name.
The Aldersgate Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church has been donating generously to HOPE Ministries for 20 years, making many programs and services available to local families and individuals in need. The class donates approximately $10,000 each year.
Louis Day is president and primary instructor of the class of some 20 adults. “HOPE Ministries is one of our longest-standing recipients,” he said, “and over the years, we’ve boosted our contributions to them for various needs. It’s because we believe in the programs they offer in our community. The students in our class all agree that as far as fundraising goes, we want to make sure we donate to worthy causes.”
That includes programs such as the Client Choice Food Pantry, which allows HOPE Ministries to feed about 13,000 people annually. The pantry features a grocery store setting, which lets clients select the foods that they need rather than feel as though they are receiving a handout.
“The Aldersgate class members have supported us for many years,” said Melissa Curtis, director of marketing and development at HOPE Ministries. “They’ve been especially helpful to us doing ‘intake’ with our pantry clients.
The Aldersgate donation also helps fund HOPE’s annual holiday programs, which include traditional meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas, holiday house parties, and a gift and toy collection for the community’s children. Gifts range from stocking stuffers for young children to gift cards for teenagers.
Intake is basically an interview in which we meet with clients to discuss their household size and their family members’ health and nutritional needs. It allows them to choose what’s right for them and it promotes the ‘dignity’ element of our mission, which is very important.”
Another program that benefits from Aldersgate donation is HOPE’s The Way to Work program. The Way to Work is a structured environment that helps people find and maintain employment, housing and financial stability. Services include life skills workshops, career coaching and job
training Additionally, The Way to Work partners with local business for training and support to increase retention and reduce turnover costs. It trains people to keep jobs and businesses to keep people.
“We’re very thankful for all this class has done for us,” said Janet Simmons, president and CEO
of HOPE Ministries. “They believe in what we’re doing and they take the opportunity to support us in so many ways.”
Members of the class also volunteer on an individual basis for clean-up days and other HOPE events. At their own church, they help sponsor youth mission trips and missionary work in foreign countries.
“We feel strongly that our donations should be spent on causes that Jesus would approve of,” Day said, “like helping the poor and feeding the hungry. We believe that we should practice what we preach and do good for others wherever and whenever we can … in our community and throughout the world.”
First United Methodist Church is located at 930 North Blvd. downtown. For information, call (225) 383-4777. To learn more about the church’s programs, visit the website at firstmethodist.org. For more information about volunteer opportunities with HoPE Ministries, visit hopebr.com.