Human Needs &
"You shall Love your Neighbor as Yourself." - Matthew 22:39
Our Savior Episcopal Church has been serving communities in the CSRA through partnerships
with local schools. other churches and nonprofit organizations for several decades.
Our Human Needs and Outreach Ministry is expanding as we serve the growing needs of our communities, particularly during these challenging times.
by Marianne Simeneta, Human Needs & Outreach Coordinator
When I first moved to the area in 1989 and started attending Our Savior Episcopal Church, I was asked to head the outreach ministry. At that time the ministry had a very limited profile. All we did was to provide food baskets at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter to families identified through DFCS and a member of our church who was a social worker with Columbia County Schools. We also had limited funds available to provide emergency assistance to families in need.
During that period, we began working the soup kitchen in downtown Augusta. Back then, the Masters Table, a function of Golden Harvest Food Bank, did not exist. Instead, the churches downtown each had a day of the week where they provided a noon meal to the homeless in the area. We collaborated with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church which held the soup kitchen on Saturdays. Our Savior’s team worked there about every eight weeks or so. When Golden Harvest opened the first Master’s Table site, the downtown churches started to direct their efforts and resources to the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen. We worked at the first location on Fenwick Street, about a block from the current location. We continued working with the Master’s Table till 2019.
For several years, we have also worked with Family Promise (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network), a national ministry that works with homeless families with minor children giving them the help they need to get back on their feet. Family Promise works with a network of churches who provide sleeping space and meals to the families in the program. We were a hosting church, which means that several times a year for a week at a time we hosted the families in the program. It was a very labor intensive effort, requiring a large number of volunteers during the hosting week.
While we continued with the holiday food baskets until the last few years, we also added a Christmas angel tree to the program. We forged a relationship with Martinez Elementary School, in the church neighborhood, and provided them with the food baskets and angel gifts. We also started working with the Saturday Sacks program, which provides a bag of weekend food for children identified by the school’s counselor as being nutritionally at risk. About three years ago we dropped the holiday food baskets at the request of the counselors (because of their difficulty in getting timely responses from parents) but continued with the Christmas angel tree and the Saturday Sacks program.
We currently provide financial support of several agencies including Family Promise; Columbia County Cares food pantry; When Help Can’t Wait, a local ministry that helps people in nursing homes; and A Place to Dream, a YMCA program what provides beds to children who have housing but do not have beds in which to sleep. We continue to grant emergency funds on a limited basis out of the Outreach money donated.