Working within our own community and extending our reach to help others in Contra Costa County and beyond through direct service, financial assistance and connections with partner organizations, St. Stephen’s strives to embody our mission to know, to love, and to serve Christ.
Support for Ukraine through Episcopal Relief and Development
Episcopal Relief and Development (ER-D) works through a global ecumenical network, delivering relief and direct assistance to people in places where the need is greatest, at a moment’s notice. Click here to donate money which will provide for much-needed supplies and humanitarian relief to refugees fleeing Ukraine. ER-D is working with the Action by Churches Together Alliance (ACT Alliance), which has Church-based networks on the ground in both Poland and Hungary. The money you donate today goes directly to where refugees fleeing war are arriving and seeking assistance.
2022 Lenten Support for Local Agencies
LOAVES AND FISHES
Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa has served over five million meals to thousands of hungry county residents since 1983. Their mission is to provide community-based food programs and partner services that focus on basic needs. They have recruited thousands of volunteers and now serve over 251,000 meals and distribute over 200 tons of groceries each year.
In 2016 Loaves and Fishes started a Culinary Arts Training program. The program introduces the students to basic food preparation and cooking techniques, proper and safe operation of a commercial kitchen, food service skills, basic nutrition as well as coaching on interviewing, job retention skills and students receive assistance on acquiring a job in the culinary industry. The program has placed several students in Culinary jobs as well as helped students apply to the Diablo Valley Community College Culinary Arts program. Although this program had to be put on hold during the pandemic, it is now operational again.
Loaves and Fishes is on the front lines in Contra Costa County serving people who need food and saw a 62% increase in meal service from April-June 2020. As an “essential provider,” Loaves and Fishes has remained open and is serving to-go meals to the community during the Covid pandemic. The reality is, Loaves and Fishes provides food to the most vulnerable in our community; without their services many will not be able to feed themselves or their families. Loaves and Fishes is committed to the health and safety of all guests, staff, volunteers, and partner agencies. By remaining open and serving under these challenges, they are incurring unexpected costs related to “to-go” containers and increased amount of food purchases. No one knows how COVID-19 will affect everyone going forward. Loaves and Fishes anticipates that people may need services more than before the pandemic.
Loaves and Fishes partners with other social service agencies and community-based organizations to support our neighbors in need. Their partners include Trinity Center, St. Vincent de Paul, Rubicon Programs, Opportunity Junction, White Pony Express and the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano. Loaves and Fishes depends on regular volunteers, though this has changed a bit during Covid.
Housing affordability is only one factor that results in someone becoming homeless. SHELTER, Inc. employs a Housing First approach to quickly and successfully connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness to housing without preconditions, providing not only a home, but also the skills and resources necessary to live a better life.
Services including eviction prevention, interim housing and long-term housing are combined with a variety of programs at SHELTER, Inc. to overcome the root cause of homelessness. Supportive services might include employment training and preparation, referrals for mental health and physical wellness, public benefits enrollment, and connections to community resources such as legal aid and food banks.
SHELTER, Inc. offers one-on-one career development, readiness, placement, and job retention services to participating clients. Additional support may also include job search and career coaching workshops, transportation assistance, uniforms, and short-term/cost-effective training and certification. Specific programs serve veterans, those suffering from mental health and substance use disorders or physical disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, and those re-entering society having successfully exited the state prison system.
Currently, a new state-of-the-art kitchen and dining facility are under construction in Solano County; the previous Solano dining room was adequate only to provide reheated meals, served in shifts. Scheduled to open this summer, SHELTER Inc’s new facility will provide meals for up to 138 clients at a time and will one day house a culinary arts training program.
Last year, SHELTER, Inc. helped more than 2600 individuals and families in Contra Costa, Solano and Sacramento counties, thanks to thousands of donors and volunteers. Monetary donations to prevent and end homelessness are welcome (use the QR code). Volunteer opportunities include cooking dinner at the Martinez or Solano family shelter, working on building and landscaping projects, assisting with children’s activities, and coordinating donation drives.
Fall / Winter: Winter Nights Family Shelter
St. Stephen’s has helped staff Winter Nights Family Shelter, a mobile homeless shelter for families with children. We partner with St. John Vianney’s in Walnut Creek and serve for one week at their site. We provide meals, activities and other services for the families at the shelter. Click here to visit the sign-up page. You can also donate money to Winter Nights. The funds will be used to purchase food and activity supplies, and to provide gift cards to the shelter for gas or other necessities unique to each family. Visit our secure giving site to make a contribution by credit card, or contact the parish office for help.