DIOCESE OF ARIZONA

5 Questions Episcopal Jubilee Arizona

 

1) How long have you been affiliated with Jubilee Ministries, and in what capacity?

Bridging AZ Furniture Bank was fortunate to have The Rev. Mark Van Wassenhove, a Bridging Charter Board member, introduced us to Carmen Guererro.  We met with Carmen and received our Jubilee Ministry Certification September 12, 2006.

Episcopal Jubilee Domestic PovertyBridging AZ satisfies a need in the Phoenix Metropolitan area that had been unrealized.  It had always been up to agency case managers to procure beds and furniture for their clients once permanent housing was obtained.

We focus our attention and make comfort in the home a priority and our business. Our "niche" is that we provide these items to economically disadvantaged individuals and families through agency representatives (case workers).

Interested in being designated a Jubilee Ministry? Check out How to Become a Jubilee Ministry on what the process entails!

2) What is/are your role(s) in your diocese? In your parish? In a ministry or ministries?

As founders of Bridging AZ, my husband Jim and I became interested in service ministry upon our completion of EFM.  Sometimes in our parish of St. Barnabas, we are referred to as "The couple who took that servant portion of EFM really, really seriously!" 

Episcopal Jubilee Education for Ministry

To see more of the Diocese of Arizona's important work, check out their page on the Episcopal Asset Map. While you're there, search for innovative ministries, connect with leaders across the Church, and tell us about the ways the Spirit is at work in your neighborhood through a short survey.

 

3) What’s one way you’ve been changed by your work alongside the economically disadvantaged? 

I have experienced change in my attitude by getting to know the issues our agency case managers face daily. Their knowledge has informed my ministry by helping me learn how critical it is to understand the importance of:

  1. Education
  2. Recognizing/addressing the signs of substance/alcohol abuse
  3. Self-esteem
  4. Healthy eating habits

These 4 items top the list of every case manager with whom I have spoken.

I think about people in terms of "What can I do, what should I do, what will I do?"

The Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness: Thank God for these boots on the ground here in our community who (among many other things) tirelessly strive to work with our legislature, making the lives of those with no voice heard.   

Southwest Behavioral & Health Service: Thank God for the case managers who day after day work with the developmentally and physically disabled to ensure each and every life is lived to its fullest potential.

 

4) What does advocacy mean to you?

Episcopal Jubilee AdvocacyAdvocacy is having the guts to get up in the morning and fight for unpopular issues that are not politically safe or sexy, relentlessly doing so in front of our elected officials who turn their ears and eyes to those issues that are popular, politically safe and sexy.

 

 

5) Where in your diocese (or parish, or ministry) have you seen Jesus?

When a parishioner once looked at Jim and I and said "Oh man, you guys look beat.  Let me take you to lunch!" Thank you, Jesus.

When a donor told me she didn't want Goodwill to sell her kitchen table. She wanted to give it to Bridging Arizona, knowing we would find a family who needed it.  This table had served her well, having used it every night as she studied to obtain her doctorate. She wanted it to go to a family in need as its job "wasn't finished yet!" Thank you, Jesus.

 

Donna Piscopo is the co-founder and co-director of Bridging AZ.

If you are interested in having your church or ministry designated a Jubilee Ministry, please contact Mr. Christopher Sikkema at 212-716-6055 or csikkema@episcopalchurch.org. The application to be designated a Jubilee Ministry can be found HERE.

  1) How long have you been affiliated with Jubilee Ministries, and in what capacity? Bridging AZ Furniture Bank was fortunate to have The Rev. Mark Van Wassenhove, a Bridging Charter Board member, introduced us to Carmen Guererro.  We met with

The Naco Wellness Initiative, of Bisbee, Diocese of Arizona, has submitted the final report for their 2014 Jubilee Ministry Impact Grant. The grant exists to aid a Jubilee Ministry in making a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those in need.

The Initiative serves the border region of southeastern Arizona and northeastern Sonora, Mexico, where 80% of the population lives below United States poverty standards. Affordable nutritional food is difficult to find in the region, resulting in devastating health effects and declining household economic conditions.

Their application indicated that the $1,500 award would be used for the development and support of a sustainable, healthy, and reliable food stream, based on small-scale agricultural education and community gardens.

 

According to Tom Carlson, Director of the Naco Wellness Initiative, “The harvest is good.” Since January 2015, when the grants were disbursed, 26 family gardens, as well as a garden at the Naco Orphanage in Sonora, have been developed in the communities they serve. The past several months have included ceaseless work, from installing a drip irrigation system, to monitoring over 8,000 feet of new drip tape, to providing supervisory and advisory support, to daily chores, to composting, mulching, weed and pest control.

Though the work was intense for Naco volunteers, moments of joy were never in short supply. For all the work of preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and tending the crop, there was also the excitement of watching what were once tiny seeds produce an abundant array of fresh, healthy, and delicious produce. According to Carlson, “It has been an enlightening, enriching, and empowering experience for all of us.” Among the crops planted and harvested were tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, onions, carrots, radishes, lettuces, chilies, garlic, cabbage, corn, beans, cilantro, watermelons, cantaloupe, blackberries, and strawberries.

While the bounty is staggering, there is more to the ministry than the act of harvesting. Carlson explains, "The ongoing results have been truly inspirational. Gardens have been faithfully tended and families are enjoying the benefits of their labors in abundance." He continues, "The delicious tastes of freshly picked vegetables and fruits are new experiences for many—neither [are] available nor affordable from the grocery store."

Time spent working with regional stakeholders has also been important to the Initiative’s work; some volunteers taught children at the orphanage how to tend their plants, others provided lessons at a local Vacation Bible School, others held a community garden fair in the Naco Colosio neighborhood, and still others offered a workshop with the Cochise County Department of Health and Social Services and Native Seed/SEARCH of Tucson for 15 graduate students at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health. Since early 2015, the Initiative has been working with an independent filmmaker from Tucson and the director of the University of Arizona’s Hanson Film Institute to produce a video about the gardening program, to be used in fundraising and other venues.

The Naco Wellness Initiative has also taken the time to celebrate the community and their gardens; in June 2015, during the initial harvest, the gardeners took a day to show off prize vegetables, share recipes and dishes, create music, and award certificates to recognize each other’s' efforts and accomplishments. According to Carlson, local gardener Yerena Soberanes took home the winning prize for her blue ribbon zucchini, onions and beans. In August, children from the Initiative's summer program, where health education is combined with crafts and games, put on a skit about the effects of healthy and unhealthy foods, complete with oversized food props they had made.

 

As this remarkable season closes, Carlson is certain that the Naco Wellness Initiative can and will sustain the goals and objectives they have thus far achieved. Plans are currently in the works to plant an additional 25 gardens for the Harvest for Health project, and there is much interest in not only traditional planting methods but also hydroponic and aquaponic methods. The technological growth in these fields may shorten the growing season, increase crop yields, and minimize the amount of water used in crop production—ever a concern in Arizona.

In closing their report, the Naco Wellness Initiative thanks The Episcopal Church's Jubilee Ministries. Carlson writes, "Our successes are in large part due to your generous funding and willingness to share and support our vision of empowering these families not only with healthy food for their tables, but also a sense of pride in their accomplishments. As... a single mom gardener, with three lovely kids, said to me this past week, while holding an armful of freshly picked vegetables, 'We owe all of this to you people who have made this possible.'"

Jubilee Grants are awarded annually by The Episcopal Church. For more information, please visit Domestic Poverty Ministries at http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/domestic-poverty-ministries. Like and follow Jubilee and Domestic Poverty Ministries on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/episcopaljubilee/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/Matthew2537.

The Naco Wellness Initiative, of Bisbee, Diocese of Arizona, has submitted the final report for their 2014 Jubilee Ministry Impact Grant. The grant exists to aid a Jubilee Ministry in making a positive and measurable impact in the lives of those

For Tom Carlson, gardening is not something one generally does alone. Though a single person could go through the arduous task of planning, planting, tending, and harvesting fruits and vegetables, for him, the work is all about the community. His ministry, Naco Wellness Initiative, is dedicated to establishing community gardens in order to provide a sustainable and reliable food stream for marginalized local populations, and in so doing, produce measurable and sustainable improvements for their health and development.

The program, which began in 2010 with a single garden at Naco Sonora, was intended mainly to help in diabetes prevention. As people took notice of the Initiative’s progress with improved bloodwork, a series of trends emerged. Among those active with the ministry, elderly residents experienced higher nutritional intake and greater interest in remaining productive, children displayed improved development, alertness and performance in school, and the general population testified to the importance of self-reliance and the empowerment they felt from growing and sharing food. Sensing these positive trends and a growing demand, the Initiative expanded—within five years, they have planted 27 individual gardens.

As the director of the Naco Wellness Initiative, Mr. Carlson believes that “each garden is a shared experience—within the individual families, between neighbors, with the folks who organize and mentor gardeners, with the larger community.” Much more than a simple plot, the gardens are a place where young and old are drawn together to learn about soil preparation, tools, maintenance, water conservation, mulching, harvesting, organic composting, seed collection, cooking, and preparation. Students become mentors to a new class, and the cycle of learning continues.

Tom Carlson, in describing this ministry, mentions that, along with every garden, there is more to be joyful about—“there are stories to be told and listened to—not just about crop and weather conditions, and harvests, but also about many events that go in families’ lives. It’s the joy that comes from conversations over a hoe or shovel, sitting on a stump under a peach tree, spending time at the kitchen table over some refreshing lemonade or fresh watermelon water. Or, when very lucky, enjoying some fresh, warm tortillas with homemade salsa, or fresh pan with preserves made from the guayaba tree outside the back door.” Naco Wellness Initiative strives to make these gardens and stories come alive across their region, proving that as much as it’s all about gardening, it can often be about so much more.

Naco Wellness Initiative is a 2014 Jubilee Impact Grant recipient.

For Tom Carlson, gardening is not something one generally does alone. Though a single person could go through the arduous task of planning, planting, tending, and harvesting fruits and vegetables, for him, the work is all about the community. His

Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church had a problem. Their property, located adjacent to an apartment complex, was consistently being vandalized—as it turns out, by children from the neighborhood. Rather than repairing the damage repeatedly and simply moving on, parishioners decided to find the root of the problem. It happened to be that the apartment complex’s leadership barred typical play activities on their property, leading to bored children who occasionally made mischief.

Parishioners reached out to the community and residents of the complex, and found a need for tutoring—many students’ parents were not fluent in English—and thus, a ministry was born from an act of vandalism.  The church set up a program working with elementary-aged students every Thursday evening from 4:30 until 5:30, making themselves open and receptive to the needs of their neighborhood. The tutoring ministry encourages not only the academic responsibility, but also the important work of relationship building. Families have demonstrated their trust in the program to the point that they send younger siblings along with students. Says Elizabeth Hatcher, the lay leader of the Tutoring Ministry, “This program was originally designed to provide homework help, but we have not discouraged the little ones… from coming. The bigger picture goes to relationship building. The method just happens to be through tutoring.”

Church leadership is very much supportive of the ministry. Good Shepherd of the Hills’ rector, the Rev. Nordon Winger sees it as a bridge to further work in the community, saying, “It provides a quality educational experience and help for the Hispanic children in the area around the church, and it is also enabling us to move into other ministries for the Hispanic population in Cave Creek.” The Right Reverend Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona, writes glowingly that “Good Shepherd of the Hills is a ‘beacon of God’s light’ in the North Valley of Maricopa County, Arizona. The Tutoring Ministry has brought local under-served children into a community of learning and faith.” In 2013, the tutoring ministry received a $1,500 Program Impact Grant from Jubilee Ministries to further the work among young people.

Good Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church had a problem. Their property, located adjacent to an apartment complex, was consistently being vandalized—as it turns out, by children from the neighborhood. Rather than repairing the damage repeatedly