My church, Glen Cairn United, is deciding how to spend some "found" money on new Outreach projects. The church was built in 1986 with the help of money from the United Church's "Ventures in Mission" program. Since then the church has made annual mortgage payments to the United Church in respect of that loan. Earlier this year, the United Church forgave any remaining balance of the loan and in return expects that Glen Cairn, along with other churches in similar situations, will devote the money to Outreach that otherwise would have been spent on the "mortgage".
Glen Cairn's Church Council set up an Outreach Committee to make recommendations as to the nature of Outreach needs in the local community. I am a member of that committee. The committee has come up with four proposals. These will be presented to the congregation. Through their support, the committee will then recommend to the Council which of the four projects has congregational support. (Congregation members will also have the opportunity to advocate for projects of their own interest.)
Brief summaries the the four proposals from the committee follow:
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: This program would help pre-teens in the community develop healthier eating habits by providing them with the opportunity to make and eat a healthy afternoon snack.
Poor eating habits start early. By the time children reach grade 7, many have developed a habit of skipping meals and impulse snacking. Studies on nutrition in Ontario find that ... Hungry kids are seven times as likely to have behavioural problems as not hungry kids.
NEXT STEPS - A GCUC PROGRAM FOR INFANTS WITH AUTISM
There are large time gaps between when a child is suspected as being on the autism spectrum, actual diagnosis, and then intervention. "Quick Starts - Early Intervention for Autism" is a program, started by a grandmother in Kanata that addresses that gap between pre-diagnosis, diagnosis and intervention. Early intervention begins at the pre-diagnosis stage.
In the GCUC Next Steps program, infants identified through the Quick Starts program, and their caregivers, would have the opportunity to come to a Drop-in Centre at GCUC. There they would have the opportunity to meet other infants and caregivers, share experiences, put into practice their early intervention strategies and receive professional guidance, encouragement and hope.
OASIS - A PROGRAM FOR FAMILIES COPING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness affects people of all ages, education levels, income levels and cultures. It affects individual and their families. Embarrassment, social stigma and fear can cause caregivers and their families to feel isolated at the very time in their lives when they need the support of a caring social network to sustain them.
Oasis would be a support system that helps caregivers of people with a mental illness to problem solve, navigate the mental health system, and find self-care.
NEW VENTURES - A PROGRAM FOR THE BEREAVED
Private counselling, formal group sessions and information workshops are available to help people work through their grief. However, many people prefer activity based support that offers a less intensive setting. The bereaved in our community would benefit greatly from more activity-based bereavement programs.
The GCUC New Ventures program would provide activity-based bereavement support where, in an understanding setting, people can share activities and interests with others in similar situations.
While my personal interest is with the Next Steps program, I feel that any one of these programs, if adopted by the congregation, would meet particular needs within our local community. Any one of these projects would be a very worthwhile Outreach project for our church.