“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
The Parish of the Epiphany supports many local organizations with both volunteer support and program grants. Here are the organizations that you can connect with occasionally, weekly or as needed.
St. Luke's Community Dining Room & Meal Programs
Located in a largely Hispanic neighborhood in Chelsea, St. Luke’s- San Lucas is a mission church in our deanery. With an outreach focus on combating hunger, St. Luke’s has run both a feeding program and a food pantry for many years.
Established in 2009, the Community Dining Room is a partnership between St. Luke’s-San Lucas and four congregations from the Mystic Valley Deanery, including Parish of the Epiphany. Over the years, many parishioners from Epiphany have volunteered to make and serve a hot breakfast and lunch for our Chelsea neighbors on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Epiphany has also participated in the annual St. Luke’s Thanksgiving Dinner.
Unfortunately, the breakfast and lunch program had to close on March 7, 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will remain closed until further notice. But the work continues.
In partnership with Bella Isla Express, some residents receiving emergency groceries from St. Luke's can now also stop at this local restaurant for a free, hot meal using one of the 150 vouchers provided by very generous donations from Epiphany, Beth El Temple Center and beyond. This not only allows someone to receive a nutritious and culturally-familiar meal but it also helps to keep a small, woman-owned business afloat during the pandemic.
St. Luke's Food Pantry & Bodega & the Chelsea Brigade
Father Edgar Gutierrez-Duarte started the food pantry in 2007, serving about 10 families a month. Over the years the pantry grew in capacity, serving approximately 800 individuals each month. Many Epiphany parishioners volunteered on Fridays to help unload food from the Greater Boston Food Bank trucks and stocked the pantry shelves. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Saturday Food Pantry has been closed.
Due to the growing food insecurity crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic, St. Luke’s established a Saturday Emergency Line that has served between 450-750 people and given out hundreds of boxes of food every week. In addition, St. Luke’s opened a “bodega”, offering additional food staples not included in the boxes, as well as personal hygiene items, snacks for children, and pet food. Donations can be made through St. Luke's website.
In March 2020, volunteers from Epiphany, Beth El Temple Center, and Trinity Episcopal Church in Melrose formed a partnership, called the Chelsea Brigade. This growing group of dedicated volunteers first made and delivered Saturday bagged lunches for the people in the emergency line. When the weather became too hot to safely deliver the sandwiches, the program switched to donating Market Basket and Stop& Shop $25 gift cards for those Chelsea residents who needed food during the week. They also donated personal hygiene items and diapers to the St. Luke’s Bodega.
This effort continues to this day. If you would like to donate items, please contact Roz Nazzaro.
St. Stephen’s BSAFE
Epiphany has supported St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, our sister parish in the South End of Boston for over 25 years.
“For us, this is a matter of faith in our walk to follow Jesus,” she said. “We’re just called to make the world a better place. ... Standing with those who are vulnerable is a core faith issue for us.
Jennifer’s response to a question about social justice jumped out at me as I read the news of her installation and I totally agree with her. As Christians, as Episcopalians, we are indeed called to make the world a better place, to stand with those who are vulnerable, and, I would add, to build relationships and understanding across differences and to take action to change the systems that keep people oppressed and fearful. I like to think of it as striving to be the hands, and feet, and heart of Jesus in the world today. I can think of no other time in my life when this work has been more critically important than it is today.
So, with this in mind, I invite you, all of you, to get involved with our sister Parish, St. Stephen’s in the South End of Boston. Epiphany has had a many decades long partnership with St. Stephen’s and, over the most recent two decades, we have moved from a modest financial partner, to B-SAFE food and field trip partner, to Turkey Wahoo partner, to library revamp and launch partner and major renovation partner. We have even had a few parishioners on staff there, including me. Seeing up close what happens there every day makes me excited to imagine what our future holds in partnership with St. Stephen’s and their Youth Programs!
St Stephen’s Youth Programs was created in 2000 when Vicar Tim Crellin realized the need for safe and constructive out of school time for young children in the community, particularly in the Villa Victoria housing development directly behind the church. He began an afterschool program for 20 children in the basement of his church and asked several suburban churches to help with food, field trips, and funding. Eighteen years later, SSYP now serves about 150 young people at both B-READY after school program sites and about 500 young people at our six B-SAFE summer program sites. SSYP employs about 150 teens overall and our partner network has grown to involve about 55 churches in the Diocese.
SSYP provides direct service academic and enrichment programing for young people growing up in low income neighborhoods. The programs include art, technology, science, wellness, social and emotional support, college and career mentoring, homework help, teen workshops, and service learning for young people. Our adult and teen Community Organizers work to address the most pressing issues facing our young people and their families: better public schools, safer neighborhoods, decreased gun violence, stronger parent voices, and safety for those fearing their own or a loved one’s deportation.
I believe we, people who are blessed with resources and those of us born into privilege given solely by the color of our skin, must get involved for expansive and long term change to occur. We must be in this work together. When we read with, share a meal with, create a turkey craft with, play a game with, talk to, mentor, tutor or walk for peace with a child or a teen from SSYP, we learn and our understanding grows and changes. We learn that we have the same dreams and desires, that we are more alike than different. But we also see first-hand the inequity in our education system. We learn that the fear of gun violence and deportation are real threats that limit opportunities and success. We learn that urban youth do not have easy access to employment or college. It is through each of these activities that we begin the work of walking with our brothers and sisters who live in a world that is not safe, or just, or equitable. So let’s accept the challenge that Jennifer mentions, to make the world a better place for all and let’s do this in partnership with SSYP.
Join us! Let’s B-INVOLVED with B-SAFE, or B-READY, or B-PEACE.
St. Stephen's Turkey Wahoo
Each year over 20 parishioners join in our annual “Turkey Wahoo”, a Thanksgiving feast for the students and families of the St. Stephen’s after-school program. Epiphany volunteers donate, cook and serve the food (over 200 servings) and provide games and crafts for the students. In addition, each December 75 children of St. Stephen's are remembered with $20 gift cards to Target collected through Epiphany’s Giving Tree.
Blackstone Elementary School Library
The Blackstone Elementary School is located in Boston's South End, just down the street from our partner church, St. Stephens. It had no library until a dedicated group of Epiphany volunteers, joined by graduate students from the Simmons Library School and others coordinated by St. Stephens, worked to renovate a space, solicit donations of books and funds, and label and organize the books. The response was tremendous, and the library was opened in 2011. There are now approximately 12000 books in the online circulation system. Twenty classes (about 350 students) come to the Library each week. Volunteers work mornings from about 9:30 am - 1:30 pm and commit to coming at least one day a month. Currently volunteers from Epiphany go in on Monday and Tuesday and carpooling is possible. Parking is usually available on the street in front of the school.
Volunteers are needed to check books in and out and to read to the children.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Epiphany volunteers with the Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity, building and refurbishing houses in Lawrence, MA. Since its founding in 1985, Merrimack Valley has built 81 homes and rehabbed 11 others, helping 92 families achieve their small part of the American Dream – a home of their own, a safe and decent place to live!
Our team works all day on the second Saturday of every month. Carpools are formed for transportation and the team generally goes out for lunch together. There are jobs for all levels of skill and all are welcome. Youth between 16 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult.Contact Bill Saunders
Council for Social Concern
The Parish of Epiphany supports this important ministry with ongoing collections of food staples and financial donations. Every few weeks, volunteers drive goods donated in the grocery cart in the church Narthex to CSC. The CSC especially needs food donations over the summer months to help families feed children home from school.
Every November we hold a parish-wide Thanksgiving food drive. We collect food for the Thanksgiving baskets (estimated at $3000) distributed by CSC.
Established in 1990, Brookview House, an area shelter for homeless women and their children, regularly receives donations of clothing and household items from Epiphany. Parishioners have held drives to collect everything from bedding and linens to furniture for families moving out of the shelter into their own apartments. And we have provided the physical labor of helping with the moves. Through the Advent Giving Tree, Epiphany provides Christmas gifts for every mother and child in the shelter. The relationship with Brookview continues to grow as we find new ways to support them financially, such as through the Christmas offerings, and in fellowship such as apple picking events and donations of handmade quilts.