Caring For The Most Vulnerable Among Us…..


The best way to see a transformed Bay Area tomorrow
is to care for a vulnerable child today.

 

Along with PCC’s God’s Heart for the World offering on November 5th, there are other ways to give to help vulnerable children. We can give of our time and our skills. These children are high at risk for poverty, pregnancy, crime, unemployment, homelessness, and trafficking.

We see it right here in our own community. As a body of Christ-centered people, we need to become more aware of the needs of the most vulnerable among us and learn what each of us can do…..Prevention, intervention, and aftercare work are all areas in which we can use our own skills and God-given gifts to combat this problem together.

PCC has the following events planned for us to all grow in this area together. Please pray about which one(s) you will attend:

Tuesday, Nov. 7th The Neighbor Film 7-9pm – Fellowship Hall Rm. 22 B & C
Watch a short film by Tony Gapestione on how human trafficking is happening right under our noses in white-collared American suburbia.
Hear from Bay Area Trafficking Coalition on how you can combat this injustice.
www.neighborfilm.com

Thursday, Nov. 9th Foster Care Information Night- Rm. 11 A & B
Caring for children in the foster system is a powerful way to pro-actively address issues like homelessness, drug abuse, human trafficking, prostitution, and teen pregnancy. Learn how you can get involved by foster parenting or mentoring in collaboration with Foster the Bay. www.fosterthebay.org

Saturday, Nov. 11th Foster Parent’s Night Out at PCC 3:15-8:30p
Honor Help One Child’s Foster and Fost-Adopt families by treating the parents to a night out on the town while their children are cared for in a safe, structured, and fun environment.
Includes training. To volunteer: Contact Dawn Leiro
www.helponechild.org

Sunday Nov.12th Human Trafficking Panel Discussion- Fireside Room 12:30-2pm (Lunch will be served)
Gain awareness about human trafficking at this panel discussion featuring experts representing various organizations in the Bay Area that are making an impact. Find out what they are doing and how you can help.  Learn how caring for foster children can reduce the devastating effects of human trafficking.

Changing Lives One Book At A Time…..


Illiteracy affects everyone.
Did you know that:

  • 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up on welfare or in jail. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th-grade level.
  • Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
  • Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.

Ok, we know that illiteracy is here in the United States, but here in Redwood City?

The testing scores reflected in the RWC school district show the facts:

About 4 in 10 Redwood City 3rd graders failed to meet their English literacy grade-level standards. In the average class of 27 students, about a dozen will either be unable to understand lessons taught in English or will not be able to keep up with students who read at grade level and will fall farther and farther behind.

Redwood City has a big population of English learners, many below the poverty line, and many with parents who speak minimal English or none at all, making helping with homework impossible. Many of these kids are speaking very little English when they arrive at kindergarten.

PCC’s Angie Ibarra, executive director of Generations United, says that “it takes about five to seven years for someone to learn the English language. They’re all behind the eight ball when they get here at four and five and have little or no English language skills”. Kids whose first language is English pick up what they learn and move on from the first day of preschool or kindergarten, but  English learners have to absorb as much as two and one-half years of English literacy to catch up with classmates by the end of one year.

As difficult as it may seem, there is hope for our kids in RWC. It can be done with a little extra help with volunteers reading with kids and tutoring…the younger the better.


Angie’s Redwood City Reads program pairs up volunteers with kids in 2 schools who read with them for at least an hour a week. It is a beautiful program because the act of “being there” builds a relationship and it shows these kids that an adult cares about them and cares about their education and learning. And it helps. Volunteers may not see immediate changes, but over the course of a year, significant growth happens and it is a very rewarding experience for both the student and the volunteer. Kids become better readers, homework becomes easier, and education takes off. And a positive future outcome for each child dramatically improves.

Generations United has had an unprecedented season of growth with the expansion of their programs at John Gill School and the addition of an after-school homework center at the Schaberg Library supporting Roosevelt School students. With their expansion, they need to double their volunteers to meet the need! They are looking for leaders to run the programs and looking to hire a part-time volunteer coordinator. Will you join them on the local missi0n field of RWC public schools?

Volunteers needed at John Gill SchoolFair Oaks School, and the Schaberg Library.

Or contact Angie Ibarra.

Bethlehem AD Blesses RWC for 25 years!

Saddie Rhen With Other PCC Volunteers.

This year marks Bethlehem AD’s 25th year of blessing Redwood City!

If you have never partaken in this amazing experience, you are missing out on one of the most special ways to celebrate Christmas. It is a walk through the hustle and bustle of Bethlehem the night that Jesus was born, and ending up at the live nativity scene watching angels worshipping around the manger…complete with camels, angels, Roman soldiers, and a live Baby Jesus!

Bethlehem AD. has always been a community-wide event that unites churches all over the Peninsula as people contribute their time and talents to pull off the 4 nights of this event. Fun fact: It takes more than 300 volunteers to pull off this event, and if you ask any of them, most would say that being a spectator of Bethlehem Ad is amazing, but isn’t half as special as being a volunteer in it.

I asked Sadie Rhen, one of the many PCC volunteers, about her experience serving in this ministry to the community. Saddie is now a Sophomore at Cal Poly, SLO studying Statistics. She has served in many roles through the years at Bethleehm AD. Even now, when she returns for Christmas break, she is back serving in Bethlehem AD. For last 4 years, she has been one of the angels dancing on the manger. If you have ever seen Saddie up near the top of the manger, she is the very joyful angel who is always smiling!

 “Dancing for me is such a wonderful outlet and I find such joy and peace in it myself, and I love to be able to share that with others, especially around the holidays.”

I asked Sadie what her favorite things about dancing on the manger are: “First, when you get up onto your box, and ‘Joy To The World’
starts pouring out of the speakers, it just puts me into this wonderful place of worship unto the Lord. By that point, we have practiced so much that the movements are just muscle memory, so I’m able to let my body take over and focus on praising Him. Secondly, I absolutely love it when I see some of the little kids who have come start dancing with us, whether its their own dance to the music, or them attempting to copy our movements. It brings me so much joy.”


“I love that I get to play a small role in the midst of the ministry of Bethlehem AD. Over the years, I have gotten to see so many classmates and teachers and other people from Redwood City who I know don’t have a faith and probably wouldn’t set foot in a church, come to Bethlehem year after year as a tradition. And the fact that we might get to be their only exposure to Christ is such an amazing blessing!”


Bethlehem AD needs more volunteers!

You can visit attend the Kick off on September 30 and/or sign up for one of them many different characters and roles. They need everything from building the set to making donuts.  And of course there is always all the character roles they need to fill! Think about volunteering as another way to add huge meaning to your Christmas a and blessing the community! For more information visit Bethlehem AD.

 

Calling All Health Care Professionals



 

Karl and Jane Anderson may be retired health care Professionals, but they press on doing kingdom work in various ways.

During his career, Karl was a urologist with The Kaiser Permanente Medical Group for 35 years in South San Francisco. Jane also retired after 35 years as a pediatrician at the University of California, SF, yet still volunteers 2-3 days a week as a clinical professor of pediatrics. Both Karl and Jane have many stories of spreading God’s love and hope to their patients in their careers. Karl led one of his patients to the Lord just days before the man died. Jane instilled Biblical principles into the parents of her patients as she encouraged them to place their marriage first, and set loving but firm boundaries with their children. One night, she says, she stayed late after work to counsel one of the couples who were considering divorce. Fifteen years later they are still married!

The Anderson’s have been on many short term missionary trips using their medical knowledge and skills to help others all over the world. Jane serves as the vice president of Medical Servant’s International. Kyle serves as treasurer, and both are board of director members. They have used their medical skills in Guatemala, Cambodia, Malawi, Haiti, Swaziland and and Nepal.

Today, their heart is to see other health care professionals network and collaborate. Their goal is to see our community at PCC and the local and even global community served in unique and creative ways.

If you are in the health care field in any form, come check out the next PCC Health Care Network meeting

Sunday, September 10th from 10:30-11:00 in the HOPE Room in the Community Center.

 

For more information contact the Andersons at black_1516@yahoo.com

Emerging Hope: A Screening for “Neighbor” on August 12th at PCC!

Tony Gapastione, our Worship and Creative Arts pastor here at PCC, has a passion for writing and directing films in order to bring positive change to the world.  “Neighbor” is a story about suburban America and the truths about human trafficking that are happening right here in our communities.

There will be a screening right here at PCC in the worship center, on August 12th at 7:00pm, for any of you that would like to see the film and to learn how you can get involved in helping those have been victims of human trafficking.

Come and meet two survivors of human trafficking, who will be there to engage in the discussion.  Here are a few excerpts from interviews with these survivors about their experiences:

“I was left to fend for myself even at five years old.”  

“I spent 30-40 years of my life not ever having any dreams or hope for the future”.

Fortunately, these survivors have found help and are now sharing their stories in order to provide hope and to help prevent human trafficking around the Bay Area.  On August 12th, in addition to hearing these survivor’s stories, and a panel discussion on the topic, the night will also include music and art.

On the Neighbor website, Tony says, “I am called to affect change by telling stories. I hope this film starts conversations that lead to actions, that lead to justice.”

You can also be a part of this film by donating here.  Thank you for your support!

Backpacks Needed for RWC Schools!

COLLECTING AND ASSEMBLING!

PCC is excited to launch our 5th annual backpack drive in partnership with Generations United, Inc.  It’s overwhelming to consider that there are families who struggle to have adequate finances to provide the basic needs for their children in Redwood City.  It has been a tremendous blessing to see God at work as we continue to serve the children and schools in Redwood City.  We will be collecting supplies and backpacks (look for the donation barrels!) on the PCC patio the Sundays of July 16,23, and 30th. There will be flyers on the back information tables as well.

SUPPLIES NEEDED:

• Backpacks (no red or blue) • Glue Sticks 3 Ring Binders • Colored Markers •Subject Dividers (for 3 ring binders) • Crayons •Wide Ruled Spiral Notebooks • Colored Pencils •Wide Ruled Lined Paper • Highlighters •Pencil Box/Holders • Plastic Rulers (with centimeters) •#2 Pencils (packages) • Scissors (blunt) • Blue or Black Pens (packages) • Target Gift Cards ($15) Large Pink Erasers • Kleenix and Wet Wipes -individual packs.

We would love to have our faithful volunteers join us the week of August 7th to help assemble the backpacks and distribute to local schools!  The assembling will take place at both John Gill and Fair Oaks Schools!  The community will join GU that week to assist in this endeavor, and this is a great opportunity for families to serve together! One such family is the Rangel family. Gloria Rangel and family (pictured) love to help out each year on the backpack drive and are hard working volunteers who benefit by both serving together and also receiving backpacks for each of their 4 children. Gloria says the backpacks help their family immensely.

“The challenge of living in the Silicon Valley has hit our community hard.  It’s overwhelming to go to the store looking for the best deals, or materials for our children and takes a lot of time and energy,  If we had to provide these backpacks it would be such a hardship and use of our hard earned finances which is difficult because most of our money goes to rent and food.  We don’t have to take money from this part of our budget or take on additional work so that our children can have their needed supplies.”

 

For more information, contact Angie at Generations United.

*************************************

COMING SOON!

GU is experiencing growth and blessing as they have served faithfully and are launching a new partnership with the City of Redwood City and the Redwood City Library!  We will offer after school homework help for 20 Roosevelt students @ the Schaberg Library starting August 21st!  Hours of Operation: Monday-Wednesday, 2-5 PM Thursday 1-5 PM Duration: Concurrent with RCSD Calendar: August 21,2017 – June 7, 2018 Contact Angie Ibarra at Generations United for more information.

 

 

Freedom House Shelter and Advocate Volunteer Training at PCC in September

Freedom House

Fall 2017 Volunteer Training Program

Training Begins Saturday, September 9 | San Mateo County
Freedom House now is accepting applications for its upcoming volunteer training sessions for those who would like to serve the organization as an Advocate or work directly with survivors as a Shelter Volunteer.  Advocate Volunteers attend a one-day session to learn about human trafficking in order to educate the public about the issues and how Freedom House is addressing the needs of survivors. To be considered for one of the limited Shelter Volunteer positions, candidates must submit a completed application and undergo a LiveScan background check. Shelter Volunteer trainees must complete the required 40-hour training course.  To learn more about the volunteer program and to receive an application, contact Tina@FreedomHouseSF.org.

For further information about their organization, you can visit their website or you can view the training flier here.

Volunteer for Christmas with Street Life Ministries

slm-christmas

This season can be the best time or the worst time for people

Dave told me. “This time of year, people can look very negatively on the spiritual aspect of our program,” he continued.

When we reflect on the hope of Jesus during this season, we are often at the same time comforted by friends and family. Those of us who find ourselves in this situation are surrounded by the warmth of Christmas lights, delicious food, and scented candles.

However, it is easy to forget those who do not share these circumstances. A few days ago, I sat down with Dave Shearin, Executive Director of Street Life Ministries, a non-profit that serves people who live on the street. On Wednesday December 21, Street Life will share a meal with over 100 folks who live on the street near downtown Redwood City.

Dave, always able to connect through the toughest of exteriors, went on to say that he and his team of volunteers make common ground with folks on the street by sharing the fact that, “we’ve all fallen short.” Street Life tries to steer clear of a gaudy Christmas celebration, which can make some of the homeless folks uncomfortable and less likely to share openly with volunteers. “Business as usual,” Dave said, “We don’t want to talk over our people.” Here, Dave highlights the importance of bringing a contextual service to the homeless. An ostentatious Christmas meal is well outside the norm for many of the people with whom Street Life interacts. As in all mission fields, coming to people on their terms is of the utmost importance. This season’s Christmas dinner with Street Life will look very much like their meals do every week – a simple table with food and servers, worship music, and a short message.

Street Life is some of the only family that folks on the street have.

 

Want to support those on the street this Christmas? Sign up to cook a dish or help clean up here!

Spots full? Date doesn’t work for you? Street Life is always looking for servers and cooks for dates throughout the year! Contact them here!

Reflections from the CCDA National Conference

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The view from outside of the conference



by Steven Rozzi

“We need to start talking about reparations.”

This was only the first night of the conference. I mean, I knew we were dealing with some radical folks here, but I was less than prepared to hear this a few moments into the first session after a six hour drive to Los Angeles. Throughout the four days at the CCDA national conference, we were emboldened by and confronted with similar statements.

The CCDA (Christian Community Development Association) is a collection of ministries, churches, and nonprofits that seek the holistic transformation of communities through the engagement of Christians. One of their cofounders, John M. Perkins, grew up on the underside of power and privilege as a black man in rural Mississippi. He worked in the Civil Rights Movement in the South and has since started a number of ministries to holistically serve among the poor and marginalized. Those who join the CCDA seek to follow his example.

Here are some reflections on my time in LA with the CCDA.

A Deeper Faith
It had been six years since my last CCDA conference, where I had heard from many of the speakers at this year’s conference. Those such as Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, Noel Castellanos, and Sandra Van Opstal were all great speakers six years ago. But this time, it seemed that something had changed in them. They were more serious, more grounded in their words. It seemed that they had all experienced difficulties both personally and in their communities. As I noted the gravity of their tone, I also noted the depth of their faith that showed through their words. Maybe part of my perception was colored by the deepening of my own faith – struggles with anxiety and depression, dismantling my own internalized white supremacy. It was words and people like this – from the main stage, to Evangelical Covenant meet-ups, to one-on-one conversations – that made me feel a deep comfort among the attendees of this conference, even in the midst of challenging conversations.

Some friends of CCDA marched from the Mexican border to LA in support of immigration reform and ended their journey at the conference with us.

Some friends of CCDA marched from the Mexican border to LA in support of immigration reform and ended their journey at the conference with us.


Radical Inclusion

Of the almost 50 people who were on stage at the conference there were three white men. It was refreshing to see women and people of color at the forefront of this association. I was also struck by the lack of people of color and women in positions of leadership at home, even though the Bay Area is lauded as a place of diversity.

Throughout the conference we were reminded that our interpretations of scripture are lacking if we do not highlight the perspectives of those who, like the ancient Israelites and the Greek widows, were on the wrong side of power, empire, and colonialism. We were reminded that the movement of Christianity began with a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew who was born to a teenage mother, unfairly arrested, tried by an unjust court, and executed by the state. We were asked if we were seeking power for ourselves, were we also then losing sight of the Jesus we proclaim to follow?

The ideas from this conference will continue to challenge me to a more rich faith and to a more inclusive spiritual practice. They drive me to collaborate more than lead. They lead me towards humility rather than privilege. They show me the hope of conviction as opposed to the despair of shame.

How have you been challenged to move in these same directions?

Beginning to Understand Whiteness in the Context of #blacklivesmatter (Pt. I)

by Steven Rozzi.   

I’m white. This is obviously obvious. However, the more I understand about whiteness and race in general the more I understand my ignorance of that fact. As one scholar puts it, “[White people’s] socialization renders us racially illiterate.”1DiAngelo, Robin. “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.” The Good Men Project. Ed. Wilhelm Cortez, Dixie Gillaspie, and Rob Watson. N.p., 9 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 July 2016. I know this may not be the case for every white person. But it certainly was the case for me growing up.

I was never taught that I had a racial identity. That was something reserved for blacks, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans, not me. White was neutral. I could be anything I wanted – a doctor, a teacher, a plumber – feel anything I wanted – joy, anger, sorrow – and I would not be questioned on account of my race. Compare this to the tropes of the “fiery Latino” or the “angry black woman”. This is a great liberty, referred to as “psychic freedom”2from the same article as above, I never understood that I had. It is also a freedom I never understood was withheld from people of color.

Becoming more racially literate also meant learning anew about a familiar term: racism. For most of my life, I understood racism to mean prejudices held by individuals against people who look different than them, often represented by the use of racial slurs.

Implicit Bias ResultsPart of the insidious nature of modern racism is that it manifests itself in the form of implicit bias in individuals. This means a subconscious, automatic preference towards or against something. I recently took a test through Harvard University’s Project Implicit (linked below) about implicit bias towards light-skinned people. The results revealed that I have, “a strong automatic preference for Light Skin compared to Dark Skin.” Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not racist. However, I still have an implicit bias towards light skin. What’s more, 70% of those who took that same test showed a slight, moderate, or strong automatic preference for light skin. I have found it true through this experience that racism does not solely exist in an overt dislike of people of color.

I began to further dismantle my previous understanding of racism through the works of activists, researchers, and professors such as Michelle Alexander, Devah Pager, and Cybelle Fox. They, among many others, gave me a new definition of racism: a system of exclusionary boundaries and discriminatory practices, practiced implicitly and explicitly, based on racial appearance or racial categories3Dillon, Michelle. “Sociological Theories of Race and Racism.” Introduction to Sociological Theory. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 402. Print. (definition amended). This means that yes, racism exists in individual feelings of animosity, but it also exists in policies and practices that might not even include overtly prejudiced language and their legacies. Some examples: the denial of federal housing loans to black families4Seitles, Marc. “The Perpetuation of Residential Racial Segregation in America: Historical Discrimination, Modern Forms of Exclusion, and Inclusionary Remedies.” Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law 14.1 (1998). Web. 26 July 2016. in white neighborhoods, the difference in mandated jail time5UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION. “Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (May 2007).” pp. v, xi Federal Sentencing Reporter 19.5 (2007): 297-319. Web. 26 July 2016. given to users of crack cocaine as opposed to powder cocaine, and the implicit preference for white employees in hiring practices. In terms of our legal and political systems, these policies and practices give our pre-existing implicit biases real world power to greatly affect the life chances of people of color.

This is only part of the context in which the Black Lives Matter movement began. The killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner and the lack of conviction and indictment for those who killed them became symbolic of the system of racism experienced by black people in this country. They shout, “Black Lives Matter!” not because other lives matter less, but because in this context of racial discrimination in the United States, it appears that black lives don’t. When I look at the differences between whites and blacks in terms such as income and wealth, sentencing rates and lengths, and representations in media, I am compelled to agree. And again, this is not because white people are raging bigots (though some are). It is because of the implicit biases in law and common practices created by the system of racism.

So, fellow white people, we will continue to be confronted with the discomfort of racism in conversation and on our Facebook feeds. But before we react with anger, resignation, or disbelief, may we first seek to reflect and understand our own identities and perspectives around race as well as those of others.

 

 

Want to discuss and process these ideas or others connected to race and racial justice? Feel free to contact me, Steven Rozzi, the Glocal Hub Assistant Coordinator at Peninsula Covenant Church, here: stevenr@wearepcc.com

Want to deepen your understanding or action around these issues? See my second post in this series, which lists a wide range of resources to choose from.

References   [ + ]

1. DiAngelo, Robin. “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.” The Good Men Project. Ed. Wilhelm Cortez, Dixie Gillaspie, and Rob Watson. N.p., 9 Apr. 2015. Web. 19 July 2016.
2. from the same article as above
3. Dillon, Michelle. “Sociological Theories of Race and Racism.” Introduction to Sociological Theory. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. 402. Print. (definition amended)
4. Seitles, Marc. “The Perpetuation of Residential Racial Segregation in America: Historical Discrimination, Modern Forms of Exclusion, and Inclusionary Remedies.” Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law 14.1 (1998). Web. 26 July 2016.
5. UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION. “Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (May 2007).” pp. v, xi Federal Sentencing Reporter 19.5 (2007): 297-319. Web. 26 July 2016.