Stewarding Our Gifts: How We’ll Use Our 2020 Grants

In 2020, NYAPC received several grants, totaling $140,000, to help us in “expressing God’s love, engaging in God’s justice:” They will support Radcliffe Room guests and the Orphan and Vulnerable Children program in Kenya, make worship services more accessible online when we return to in person worship, and improve our building’s security for staff, members and guests. These grants also help us begin to fulfill a strategic plan goal to diversify our revenue sources. In addition to these grants, we received a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, a generous undesignated bequest of $400,000 from the estate of Amy Gillespie, and many smaller gifts in 2020. Thanks be to God.

Security Grant
The Homeland Security Administration granted us $100,000 for improving building security. Facility Manager Elias Bazezew is currently getting pricing for a variety of technologies to promote better security for staff, members, and guests during daily church operations and worship, including: closed circuit monitor cameras; exterior lighting; internal alarms and motion detectors; and electronically controlled door locks. Then, a committee of the Trustees will determine the configuration of these devices to get the best value for the $100,000. There will also be training for staff and the congregation on our responses to the most likely security risk situations. – from John O’Brien, Trustees

Radcliffe Room
After an employee of one of our office building neighbors, the Phillip Morris Foundation, observed our lunch service in Triangle Park, the foundation provided $25,000 for ministries to our neighbors without homes. Over the next several months, the Radcliffe Room team plans to spend its grant on:

• renovation of the sink in the first floor kitchen (contractor still needed!)
• materials for service, including tables and tents
• six months’ worth of food (meat and sandwich supplies)
• lots of winter coats, thermals, jeans, and hoodies!

– from Phil Telfeyan, Radcliffe Room Team

Sanctuary Technology Upgrades
The worship and music committee applied for and received an $11,000 grant from the National Capital Presbytery’s Church Development Committee “tech team.” The grant will cover half of the committee’s estimated cost of outfitting the sanctuary to enable hybrid in-person and online worship, including the sound system upgrades planned before the pandemic (microphones that comply with new FCC rules and a new soundboard). The worship and music committee’s goal is to provide a fulfilling way for people to participate in worship from home even as we return to in person services. The committee envisions, for example, monitors in the sanctuary that would allow Zoom worshippers to see and be seen, and better cameras and sound than our previous livestream set up. – from Meg Neill, Worship and Music Committee

Kenya Orphan and Vulnerable Children Program
We also received a $5000 grant from the National Capital Presbytery’s Global Mission Program for the Orphan and Vulnerable Children program of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa in Kenya. The grant has been sent directly to that program in Kenya so that they can purchase computers and books for their new library. – from Beth Braxton, Board of Deacons

What’s Going On: Returning Citizens Assistance Network

by Theo Brown

Several members of our congregation have become deeply involved with the Returning Citizens Assistance Network (RCAN). This network of 15 congregations in Washington, DC, works with the Public Defender Service to assist individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated.

During the past seven months, the work of RCAN has intensified because of the strain that the Covid pandemic has put on the prison system.  RCAN has responded directly to 20 requests for assistance since March and many of those were to help people who have been directly affected by the pandemic. The network has donated clothes and gift cards, provided games, books, and puzzles to incarcerated youth, and helped others stay connected to the outside world. Here are three example:

  • The Bureau of Prisons initiated a “compassionate release” policy because of the pandemic, letting some elderly prisoners out early in order to protect them from the danger of infection in prisons. RCAN assisted six of these individuals who returned to the District of Columbia after serving long prison sentences.  Assistance included donating clothes for several men, buying gift cards to help them buy essential personal items, and identifying mentors who could assist their return to the community
  • The pandemic caused many educational programs to be cancelled at the DC facility for incarcerated youth, and RCAN members donated games, books, puzzles and other educational items to the facility so that the teenagers who are incarcerated who have things to do during the time they were more isolated than usual.
  • The Bureau of Prisons also reduced the contact its inmates could have with each other, increasing the need for reading materials and other connections to the outside world.  RCAN congregations sent books and magazines to two different prisoners and also found pen pals to write to an elderly individual who was isolated by the new rules during the pandemic.

Interested in helping with RCAN? Contact Theo Brown at dialogdays@aol.com.

Updates on 7-2-9, the Triangle Ministry and the Radcliffe Room Ministry

By Phil Telfeyan

7-2-9:  We are not meeting in person this year and won’t until St. Elizabeth’s allows its residents to participate in community programs.  So St. E’s  calling the shots.

Instead of in-person programing, we’re planning to send gifts and cards to our members at St. E’s on Christmas, Valentine’s Day (the 7-2-9 anniversary, now in year 42), and mid-June (when our annual picnic normally occurs).

Triangle Park:  World Central Kitchen stopped giving us food at the end of September, so we no longer have any food service during the week. But the BID still serves 175 sandwiches Monday through Friday in Triangle Park.

Radcliffe Room:  On Sundays, our volunteers make sandwiches, bagels, and coffee.  We also pass out donated pastries, underwear, toiletries, shoes, and clothes (we still need men’s clothes as well as winter coats).  We serve from 11am to 1pm on Sundays (same as the BID’s weekday hours).  About 170 guests and 10 volunteers come every Sunday.

James Dandridge and Richard McCoy: Both of these regular 7-2-9 members and church congregants are well.  James comes every Sunday to volunteer with the Radcliffe Room and asks every week when 7-2-9 is coming back.  Richard comes every Sunday to get lunch from the Radcliffe Room (and some weekdays from the BID).  Richard asks about the 7-2-9 volunteers.

In my personal observation, there continues to be a close relationship between homelessness and deterioration in mental health.  I’ve seen many of our Radcliffe Room guests’ mental health worsen during the pandemic, which illustrates the urgent need for more opportunities for in-person fellowship like 7-2-9 brings.