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By DSC Communications

Green Valley Community Church (GVCC), located in southern Arizona, was recently awarded a $2,000 Aging in Poverty Ministry grant from the United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries (OAM) to support GVCC’s neighborhood luncheon program called HOPE. The program provides free meals twice a month for 130 participants from the surrounding community. The meal, however, is secondary to the program’s ultimate purpose of combatting hidden poverty in Green Valley’s older population.

According to Doug Bolstad, HOPE Luncheon ChairCourtesy of Doug Bolstadperson, there are pockets of poverty in Green Valley, and the HOPE lunches are reaching those in need thanks to the listening training provided by Pastor Ken Bensen. Sixty-five volunteers facilitate the program. Each one is trained to not only follow food health and safety regulations, but to listen closely to the participants. As a result, the luncheon volunteers are better equipped to identify issues that the participants are facing. With this insight, participants are gently referred to outside agencies and church leaders can work towards addressing those issues as well.

“Christ was always able to get people to share their needs, so He could provide healing. If we are just going to feed their bellies we are missing the point. We need to get people to really share their needs, we need to listen, and then we need to do something about it.” –Ken Bensen

All the training, cooking, and listening is done in service to others. Doug was quick to mention that the newly-installed commercial kitchen at GVCC is not for the church members, but for all of Green Valley. He shared how the community and the members of GVCC have been affected:

“This ministry has been a game-changer for our church, as people have begun to realize that personal interaction with others is the way to improve lives.”

Through the grant funds and God’s providence, GVCC plans to expand the HOPE program to serve the community more frequently, all with an attentive ear.Courtesy of Doug Bolstad

My child, accept my words and store up my commands. Turn your ear towards wisdom and stretch your mind toward understanding. Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. Prov 2:1-2,5

Editor’s Note:

Information about GBOD grants is available at http://www.gbod.org/about/grants-and-scholarships

To read a news release about grants recently awarded visit http://www.gbod.org/resources/grants-awarded-to-support-aging-in-poverty-ministries

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