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FOCUS North America adds new partner ministries and gives $15,000 in grants

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For more information contact:
Fr. Justin Mathews
Executive Director & CEO
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or 1-866-267-3083

FOCUS North America adds new partner ministries and gives $15,000 in grants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 15, 2009 – Kansas City, MO

One of the missions of FOCUS North America is to aid existing Orthodox Christian social action ministries Recently, the organization, based in Kansas City, added several new Orthodox partner ministries including Sheltering Tree, Inc.; ReEngage, Inc.; St. Herman House of Hospitality, Martha and Mary House and St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Kid’s Club.

FOCUS North America gave away a total of $15,000 in grant money to these new partner ministries and to its existing partners St. Brigid’s Fellowship, St. Xenia Sisterhood, and Philoxenia House.

And in an effort to further bless Philoxenia House, FOCUS North America raised an additional $10,000 in support for them.

Each organization is grateful for both the partnership and the grant.

Ed Malouf, of the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Kid's Club said, "In these difficult economic times, uniting together to serve is all the more important in order to accomplish our common Gospel mandate to love our neighbor. We are excited to partner with FOCUS North America to extend the ministry of the St Nicholas Kids Club to help even more families in need this year. Because of the tough economy and the number of struggling families, we anticipate an increased demand at our Christmas breakfast and toy give away, but our budget was also limited.FOCUS North America is helping to fill that gap for the struggling families and many needy children we will serve together this Christmas in Los Angeles.” And Sheltering Tree President, Shirley McNally said, “Sheltering Tree is deeply grateful for the partnership with FOCUS North America through this generous grant to begin the activities of the ABLE Center (Arts, Business, Life Enhancement and Education Center) to employ and involve adults with developmental disabilities in creating and participating in business ventures of their choice and expanding their opportunities to learn and be an active part of the Omaha, Nebraska metro community…we plan to build an 18-unit housing facility with 16 residential apartments for the developmentally disabled persons with two live-in manager units, common areas for socializing, kitchen, bakery and dining."      

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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, FOCUS North America continues its work 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

 

FOCUS Kansas City Center Press Release

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For more information contact:
Fr. Justin Mathews
Executive Director & CEO
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or 1-866-267-3083

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.”

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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.

 

FOCUS North America’s YES Students Partner with Phoenix Dream Center, wrap thousands of Christmas gifts for Needy Children and serve the poor

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For more information contact:
Katrina Bitar

YES Program Director

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or 1-866-267-3083

FOCUS North America’s YES Students Partner with Phoenix Dream Center, wrap thousands of Christmas gifts for Needy Children and serve the poor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 2, 2009 – Kansas City, MO

The YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) Program of FOCUS North America has had a joyful and fruitful November.  November 13-15, 2009, was spent in Phoenix, AZ.  A team of 35 served the homeless and working poor of Phoenix with devotion and synergy.  The group partnered with the Phoenix Dream Center, a wonderful ministry currently serving 700 residents who have committed to a Christian based life-recovery program.

After orientation on Friday, the group went downtown to share a meal with the homeless in the area.  They broke up into groups and were given just $3 a person to eat dinner and an extra $3 to invite someone to join them.  All the groups were blessed by the people they met.  It was the perfect beginning to a weekend of communion with our most needy neighbors in Phoenix.

On Saturday, the youth participated in the ministries of the Dream Center- the Adopt-a-Block ministry and Church on the Street.

Adopt-a-Block focuses its efforts of the impoverished areas of the city by reaching out to the poor in their homes and providing food, clothing and other necessities.  Our group visited the homes of the people and made sure that each family received a Thanksgiving turkey.  They also had a wonderful afternoon of fun and fellowship with the children of the block by engaging them in sports and other activities.

After returning from their blocks, the group helped the Dream Center to wrap and sort thousands of Christmas gifts to be distributed to children in Phoenix.  They truly enjoyed the task put before them while laughing and singing Christmas carols from start to finish.  In every sense of the word, they were hardworking elves in what you would imagine Santa’s workshop would look like.

The group then spent the evening on a Church on the Street outreach with the Dream Center.  They set up a barbecue in a neighborhood park.  The homeless in the area were invited for a hearty meal, clothing and fellowship with our team.  Many of the team members gave testimonies and sang for the crowd.

“By the time we reached Saturday evening, it was evident that the group had grown in their comfort levels and confidence in reaching out to the homeless. I looked around at the youth and saw relaxed, comfortable people full of joy- not one without a smile. One of students shared with me later that it just felt normal to talk with and eat with the homeless that came to the park that night.  And I thought to myself, now that’s what this is all about.” –Katrina Bitar, YES Program Director.

To host or participate in a YES trip in 2010, please visit our website: www.yesnorthamerica.org.  We are working on our schedule for Spring and Fall of 2010, so we would love to hear from you today if you are interested in bringing YES to your community!

yes-phx-09

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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

   

Theodora Polamalu joins FOCUS North America’s Board of Directors

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 16, 2009 – Kansas City, MO

Theodora Polamalu joins FOCUS North America’s Board of Directors

FOCUS North America is pleased to announce the election of its newest member of the Board of Directors. Mrs. Theodora Polamalu, wife of Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has just joined the board and is committed to help carry out the mission of the organization.

Among her many accomplishments, Mrs. Polamalu graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh Honors Program. She serves on the Phipps Conservatory Board of Trustees and the Pittsburgh Foundation Sports Outreach Committee and with her husband Troy has two philanthropic funds that allow them to make grants in a wide range of areas to help the community. She chose to join the FOCUS North America Board of Directors because she says it, “Embodies the ‘works’ mandate that Jesus Christ exemplifies so all of us could struggle to emulate His unconditional love for others, so that we may be deemed worthy of His magnificent grace.”

Charles Ajalat, Chairman of the Board, said the Board is looking forward to working with Theodora. “Theodora is a great example of what it means to give with a heart like God and for God… to give of your time, your resources and your talents to help brothers and sisters in need here at home.”

Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director & CEO, feels the same. “It’s really significant to have members of the Board who are already in the public eye. We believe Theodora’s involvement will help propel FOCUS North America forward in a great and God-serving direction.”

The Board of FOCUS North America is intentionally pan-orthodox in its makeup, which is helping to unify the Church together through helping the poor here at home. It includes Charles Ajalat, Chairman, William Hoeft, Vice Chairman, Dr. Julie Papatheofanis, Secretary, V. Rev. Fr. Tom Avramis, Brian Gerich and Lory Barsdate Easton.


For more information contact:

Fr. Justin Mathews

Executive Director & CEO

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or 1-866-267-3083


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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, FOCUS North America continues its work 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

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FOCUS North America launches a new Website and video for its Youth Equipped to Serve program

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Katrina Bitar
FOCUS North America YES Program Director
1-866-267-3083
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

FOCUS North America launches a new Website and video for its Youth Equipped to Serve program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 3th, 2009– Kansas City, MO

FOCUS North America is excited to announce the launch of a new website and video for its youth-based domestic outreach program “Youth Equipped to Serve” (YES). The website can be found at www.YESNorthAmerica.org. The video can be found atwww.yesnorthamerica.org/yesvideo.

"We are so excited for you to get to know the YES Program through our new website and YES video! Read testimonies from students, view videos that they made and hear firsthand how God is working in the lives of the youth that become His hands and feet in service to the poor," said Katrina Bitar, FOCUS North America YES Program Director.

Feedback from student participants has been enthusiastic.

The website is fantastic and lively. The new YES video does an excellent job showing the many encounters that happen on a YES trip.” - Peyton Powers


“The website is awesome! The bright colors are great and show how fun these trips are. The video perfectly captured our trip!” - Grace Farha

FOCUS North America believes that engaging all of the faithful, especially our youth, in the Gospel work of serving the poor in our own communities is essential in keeping the youth faithful to Christ and active in the Church for a lifetime. The YES Program has dramatically influenced the spiritual lives of its hundreds of participants. For more information on the YES program or to schedule a trip, visit: www.FOCUSNorthAmerica.org/YES.

 

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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, FOCUS North America continues its work in 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

   

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