Fr. Justin Mathews
Executive Director & CEO
FOCUS North America announces pilot FOCUS Kansas City Center in partnership with Reconciliation Services - extending hands-on ministry nationally
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 7, 2009 – Kansas City, MO
Through a unique alliance with Reconciliation Services, FOCUS North America has launched FOCUS Kansas City - the first such center of a national initiative to provide more local opportunities for volunteers and Orthodox Christian faithful to participate in hands-on ministry in the spirit of Matthew 25.
Reconciliation Services has not just chosen to be renamed Reconciliation Services – FOCUS Kansas City but has partnered with FOCUS North America for mutual support and encouragement, standing side-by-side in service of the hurting and hungry in Kansas City.
Unlike some umbrella organizations, FOCUS North America is an active, operational ministry. Reconciliation Services-FOCUS Kansas City is a pilot program – a model that FOCUS North America is actively working to replicate in 10 communities in the next five years.
An example of a Reconciliation Services-FOCUS Kansas City outreach is the yearly Thanksgiving basket program. The Center provides turkeys, pies and many other items to families who would otherwise be unable to celebrate this holiday. Reconciliation Services-FOCUS Kansas City gets at least 60 turkeys from the local food bank, Harvesters, every year for the baskets. However, this year Harvesters could only supply 24 turkeys. Because they had promised 60 families meals and had even more on a waiting list, a bit of a panic ensued. Thankfully, FOCUS North America through FOCUS Kansas City was able to provide the Thanksgiving turkeys needed. Mother Nicole, Emergency Service Director for Reconciliation Services- FOCUS Kansas City said, “If FOCUS North America hadn’t stepped in and purchased the other needed turkeys, I would have had to call the people signed up for assistance and tell them that I couldn’t help them. What a sad day that would have been.” FOCUS Kansas City provided Thanksgiving meals to 72 families-218 people.
As a vehicle through which people can live out their faith, the organization helps restore living icons – those in need in our own communities who may have fallen through the cracks and need more than a handout but real life-recovery.
“Poverty robs the poor of their human dignity. Our neighbor’s poverty here at home is a moral and social crisis that we have the responsibility to address. Through the national FOCUS Center program and the model developed in FOCUS Kansas City we are helping to unite the faithful to serve Christ and those most in need in their own communities, offering hope and a real chance at new life,” said Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director and CEO of the organization.
Charles Ajalat, Chairman of the Board, agrees that the needs the FOCUS Kansas City program meets are essential.“200 volunteers from local Orthodox Churches in the Kansas City area choose one Friday night per month and roll up their sleeves to prepare and serve meals to the city’s hurting and hungry. FOCUS Kansas City serves 14,000 meals a year. The Center is also helping people get back to work through the document recovery ministry and other counseling services. Together at the FOCUS Kansas City Center, the faithful and those they serve are truly experiencing and revealing the Kingdom of God in the city.”
And as the work is happening in Kansas City, it, too, is beginning to spread.Fr. Paisius Alschul, Executive Director of Reconciliation Services- FOCUS Kansas City, said “There is something that happens when we get together with others in other cities that are thinking along the same lines…there is a pool of people coming together through FOCUS North America that can provide the kind of support and training to other places that wouldn’t have otherwise known how to provide it themselves.”
FOCUS North America and its programs are committed to serve those in need, support Orthodox Christian social action ministries and supply parishes and others with the education, resources and training to initiate social action ministries in their own communities. In all of this, it continues in the work of Restoring Living Icons.
FOCUS North America is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. Donations can be made online at www.FOCUSNorthAmerica.org or checks can be made out to “FOCUS North America” and sent to: PO Box 871578 Kansas City, MO 64187-1578.