California Church Brings Books, Food and Teaches Life Skills to Foster Children

Each year, the National Benevolent Association invites congregations and ministries to apply for a Mission & Ministry Grant. These grants are reserved specifically for projects that will impact older adults as well as historically excluded youth and young adults. Below is a story from a grantee who received funds for their work in 2021.   

Rev. Courtney Armento

In January of 2020, our church, theBLEND Church Family in Lancaster, was invited to partner with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in the Lancaster and Palmdale communities of California. A passionate DCFS director spoke at our church at our pastor’s invitation and shared with us about their faith-based initiative. DCFS was partnering with faith leaders and faith communities to aid the department in meeting the needs of local foster families.  

The faith-based initiative is a strategic program that harnesses the power of community to provide resources that bridge the chasm of needs that the agency is unable to fully provide. The needs are great for at-risk youth, their foster parents, and biological parents that nurture them.  

The shelter-in-place orders given at the beginning of the pandemic shifted our collective social landscape. The impact of these unprecedented times was taking a toll on community members of all ages. We knew we wanted to respond to the emotional and psychological stressors that the pandemic was causing. Our primary goal was to help children continue to thrive despite the chaos and change they were facing. We know that in the best circumstances parents do not always have the time to respond to the emotional needs of their kids. Add that to the uncertainty brought on by the challenges of COVID and kids could get lost in the struggle for survival. Their needs seemed palpable.

In addition to partnering with DCFS, we were excited to be awarded a Mission & Ministry Grant that increased our resources for greater impact and focused support. As we curated programming that would support the Lancaster community, we were joined by passionate facilitators who lovingly focused on our mission of radical hospitality and inclusiveness. The momentum and joy continued when our church volunteers prepared books and grocery items for our giveaway event and served the families that came.   

Several of our congregants eagerly volunteered in myriad ways. Our library blessing box was built by one of our volunteers. The comfort bags for kids were packed with love and it was a joy to hand them out to the little ones. Our facilitators reported their delight in holding space with kids and young adults who were interested in learning new skills. This opportunity brought life to those in our congregation and in our community and our facilitators who partnered with us from as far away as Texas and Italy.  

We could not have imagined the impact and the rewarding feeling of making a difference in such a time as this.  

Are you interested in receiving grant funds for your health and social service project? Consider applying for a Mission & Ministry grant here