Stories of hope and action making a difference in Chautauqua County…

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“Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:15

Hope can inspire, encourage and invite people to make a difference, only if hope’s story is heard. During the month of August, First Lutheran Church is hosting Tuesday Night Pot-Luck Dinners. Each evening from 6-8pm church and community members of all ages gather for a simple dinner (hot dogs and lemonade are provided), a guest speaker from a local community service organization and a group activity for everyone to participate in.

The first night of the program, Jessica Runge from Roots and Wings Farm came to teach our group about organic farming in Chautauqua County and taught the group how to plant mini-gardens that each person took home at the end of the night.

This week Jana McDermott and Cary Lee from the Child Advocacy Program of Chautauqua County came to share dinner and tell about the work they do to serve and support children and families affected by child abuse. Along with assisting families, CAP provides training for churches and organizations that serve families and children. Through their trainings organizations can develop safer environments and provide more education on be stewards of children and families.

Penny Highhouse, who attended the Tuesday dinner, stated that, “The Children’s’ Advocacy Program staff (Jana and Carey) gave an enlightening presentation on the services that are available for victims of abuse, offer training programs to prevent abuse and educated people to help eliminate child abuse in Chautauqua County.”

She also stated that, “The relaxed atmosphere of sharing a meal together made it possible to learn about this local agency in a way that I felt I could be a part of the solution. It’s my hope to be more involved in helping First Lutheran to partner in helping children by getting involved in the CAP training. I want children to know they are loved by our church. CAP is one more way of getting that message across.”

The group gathered to hear about CAP also helped to create a fabric mural that will be hung in the CAP office. This cheerful mural will greet families and children as they come to the agency for services and be a long-lasting reminder of what hope and healing is possible – when we work together.

For the next two Tuesday evening, more positive messages will be shared. On August 21st, Barb Hungerford will share the mission and ministry of Joint Neighborhood Project. Please bring travel sized personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, soap) as we create gift bags for the food cupboard at JNP.

On August 28th, Gina Bloomquist will come to tell us more about the YMCA afterschool programs and let us know how to connect families to excellent, creative and fun after-school programs throughout the upcoming school year.

It’s only when we hear the messages of need that the voice of prayer and mission can get moving. Come join us this coming Tuesday to share a meal, hear an inspiring message, and have an opportunity to become the voice of hope, healing and life. For more information on the Tuesday Dinner Series, contact Tara L. Eastman at First Lutheran Church – 716-664-4601 or eastman_tara@yahoo.com.

Grace and Peace,

– Tara L. Eastman
Director of Youth and Family Ministry
First Lutheran Church