Merry Christmas from FOCUS

This Christmas, we remember that Christ comes into the world with no place to lay his head. We know that at the hour of his
birth Mary and Joseph are far from home, and must rely on the mercy of strangers to shelter them in their hour of need. A manger – literally a feeding trough for animals —becomes the cradle of the King of Kings. The creator of the universe comes into the world humbly and to serve.

Everyday at FOCUS North America, we encounter families in need. Some come to us seeking shelter. Others are in need of food and clothing. That’s why we strive to remember the Nativity story not just during Christmas, but throughout the year. We look to see the humble Christ child in everyone we serve—the homeless, the poor, the hungry, the sick.

Thank you for all the support you’ve shown to FOCUS and those we’ve served this year.

Merry Christmas,

Nicholas Chakos, Executive Director

Press Release: FOCUS North America & Shower To The People

FOCUS North America, the founding sponsor of the Shower to the People program, and the Missouri- based charity Shower to the People, Inc. announce that the program will no longer be affiliated with FOCUS. Starting in November 2016, Shower to the People, Inc. will independently run the Shower to the People program, which provides mobile showers and other hygiene solutions to homeless people in St. Louis.

FOCUS North America, a faith-based national charity that provides services to the homeless and working poor, hired the innovator of the “Shower to the People” concept, Jake Austin, in October of 2015 and sponsored the development of the mobile shower program. In the following months FOCUS supported the research, fundraising, marketing, regulatory approvals, and capital outlays needed to outfit a box truck capable of bringing hot showers to the most isolated of homeless individuals in St. Louis. The shower truck started operating in May 2016, with Austin at the wheel. It was enthusiastically received by the community and has generated interest beyond St. Louis.

Austin has been assisting the homeless in a volunteer capacity for years, and his work with FOCUS enabled him to realize his dream of going to those who live on the streets to most literally bring showers to the people—and to help provide dignity and hope to those in need. “I’m grateful to FOCUS for all the support they’ve given me this past year and I’m excited for the future of both organizations moving forward,” said Austin. Austin plans to continue this work through Shower to the People, Inc. FOCUS North America is pleased to have been the founding sponsor of this important program.

FOCUS and Shower to the People, Inc., agree that delivery of hygiene services to the homeless is a critical need but have concluded that they will better serve their respective missions as two separate organizations.

Both FOCUS and Shower to the People, Inc. look forward to continuing to serve those in need. Find out more about Shower to the People here: www.showertothepeople.net

Find out more about The Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve (FOCUS North America): here: www.focusnorthamerica.org

FOCUS is committed to supporting the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to poverty. FOCUS, which also is known as the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve, works to bring together communities, parishes, and partners nationwide in ways that maximize widespread volunteer engagement through hands-on activities that unite the giver with the underserved to help transform all of our lives and break the cycle of poverty. While many FOCUS volunteers are Eastern Orthodox Christians, FOCUS provides services without discrimination of any kind, and there is no faith commitment required either to volunteer or to receive assistance.

Back To School the Right Way

Everyone knows the building anticipation as the kids get ready to go back to school. There’s excitement and nerves, eagerness to start a new year, sadness that summer is ending. Unfortunately, counting down the days to a new school year is yet another reminder of struggle for many kids across the country. Imagine how excitement would turn to trepidation if going back to school meant a supply list filled with items that mom and dad couldn’t afford, sneakers from last year that don’t quite fit, and hand-me-down clothes from older sibling that leave you feeling less than confident.

It’s hard to for struggling families to prepare for a successful school year when they are in the midst of crisis. Wherever homeless families end up staying, if it’s not a permanent, sustainable home, the children suffer incredibly from constant displacement and insecurity. If parents can’t afford a place to live, how will they equip their children with the supplies necessary to attend school?

image1FOCUS North America’s Back to School program involves parishes across the country in providing high quality backpacks, school supplies, and clothing to children when it is time to return to school. FOCUS works closely with school workers in every community to ensure that donated items are given to the kids who are experiencing homelessness, living in hotels, or doubled up with friends or family.

A study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that there is no jurisdiction in the United States where a working family of four, earning the poverty threshold wage of $24,000, can afford even a one-bedroom home at fair market rates. This means that there are struggling families in your town. Even if the poverty is not always visible, it is always present.

FOCUS needs you to help meet these basic needs, and take the stress off of many hardworking families that are already stretched thin. Help us give kids everything they need to get back to school and succeed in acquiring an education.

FOCUS will send participating parishes high quality backpacks with a packing list of items to fill them with. Filled backpacks will be collected at the parish. Through our school district partnerships, FOCUS will ensure the backpacks and supplies are given to the kids with the greatest need in your own city.

If you know your parish, SOYO, church school, women’s group, or other group would love an opportunity to bring FOCUS’ Back To School program to your town, contact us today! This is a great opportunity for groups that regularly work with FOCUS, as well as new communities who may be just figuring out the best way to serve.

2016 Summer Feeding has begun! Join us today!

This summer, through our Summer Feeding Program, FOCUS will serve 46,000 meals in eight cities across seven states. And this is just the beginning. We hope to expand this program each year to new cities and sites using our core methodology of providing high quality, nutritious meals to children when they need it the most. Of course, we can’t do this without your help.

Sign up to serve in the following cities:

Columbus
Washington, D.C
Fairfax County
Detroit
Southern California 
Phoenix
Pittsburgh

 

Ionian Village participates in the FOCUS Backpack Program to provide 500 backpacks to Homeless Children in Orlando.

With over 2 million homeless children in the United States, childhood poverty continues to be a focal point of FOCUS’ national programs. With the blessings that many of us have inherited from our youth, there is little question that children living without the proper equipment to receive an education need to be provided the resources, in order to break the cycle of poverty we see in many American communities.

Last week, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Ionian Village held their annual summer camp reunion in Orlando, Florida and chose to include an aspect of service in the schedule, participating in the FOCUS Backpack Program. Officially launched in 2014, this program engages our volunteers throughout the United States by asking churches and groups to fill brand-new backpacks that are provided by us with school supplies. Through FOCUS partnerships, these backpacks are then donated to local children who are unable to afford these things on their own.

Campers from the Ionian Village program took time to learn about child homelessness in the Orlando area, and then filled 500 backpacks with school supplies. The backpacks were donated to the Homeless Education Department of the Orange County Public Schools, which serves the greater area of Orlando, Florida. This department works with homeless children in their district to provide them with the educational, social, and physical resources they need to perform academically, while often living in traumatic circumstances.

According to an article published in the Orlando Sentinel in March, 2015, “Nearly one-fifth of all homeless public-school students across the state now live in Orange, Osceola or Seminole counties…With only a tenth of the state’s total population, the tri-county area identified more than 13,700 homeless students last year — including families doubled up with relatives, living in motels, staying in shelters, sleeping in cars and camping in the woods.”

We thank all of our partners as we to work together to combat the ever-flowing tide of childhood poverty in our nation.

If your church or group is interested in participating in the Backpack Program please contact our office at 866-267-3083 or email JavaScript required to view address.

 

IV Backpack Assmebling Orlando 1 IV Backpack Orlando 2

 

Follow us on Social Media

FOCUS North America is live on multiple social media platforms. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Follow us to stay up to date with all the FOCUS news,  and learn how you can get involved with future programs.

 

New video release from FOCUS’ partner charity: Renovation Angel

We are proud to be the 2016 charitable partner of Renovation Angel!

Renovation Angel is a 501(c)3 non-profit which states their charitable mission as:

a) Creating Jobs – The white-glove removal, transportation, and resale of these items creates numerous construction, logistics, and retail jobs as these items are prepared for re-purposing.

b) Protecting the Earth – Recycling luxury kitchens, bath fixtures, home furnishings, and architectural elements diverts millions of pounds from landfills.

c) Supporting high quality non-profit outreach programs – Proceeds earned from selling recycled luxury creates support for innovative and life-changing outreach programs in the areas of: at-risk youth, addiction recovery, job creation, and social entrepreneurship.

source: http://renovationangel.org/about-us/

Check out this new video to get a better idea Renovation Angel does, and how they are partnering with FOCUS North America to move individuals from lives of dependency to self-sufficiency!

 

 

14 DAYS LEFT to support YES buy buying a shirt!

With grateful hearts, we ask you for your prayers and support for the YES ministry. We hope to host at least 25 trips, and to double the number of students we are able to train up as service leaders. With your help, we will be able to provide scholarships for youth that are not able to afford the YES weekend trip registration fee of $150, and grow our new College Day and Family Day programs. Your gifts will also make it possible for us to meet the needs of the people we serve all over North America. The greatest gift you can give the YES Program is to spread the word about this vital ministry.

You can purchase your shirt here https://www.booster.com/yesnorthamericawinter2016

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Renovation Angel makes donation at FOCUS Pittsburgh Gala

This past Thursday evening, FOCUS Pittsburgh hosted “The Light on the Hill celebration” at the Heinz History Center in downtown Pittsburgh. It was a wonderful night and there was an amazing turn out of support. One of the biggest moments of the night was receiving a $20,000 donation from Renovation Angel. FOCUS North America is honored to be Renovation Angel’s 2016 charitable partner!  

You can read the story here.