In this article on OCN, three volunteer’s reflections of service are highlighted. Read the article HERE to see how life changing being a FOCUS volunteer can really be!
FOCUS has teamed with Sodexo’s Feeding Our Future® Summer Meal Program to feed hungry children in Phoenix. Read press release here.
FOCUS North America to Serve 16,000 Meals to At-Risk Children in Phoenix
June 18, 2015
In Phoenix, Arizona, a city with a rapidly increasing child hunger problem, FOCUS North America has launched a program that will provide more than 16,000 free meals to underserved children.
“Feeding hungry children and their families is a core component of FOCUS’ programs and this new initiative in Phoenix will allow us to help children during the summer months, when they do not have access to free or reduced price meals through school,” said FOCUS North America Executive Director Nicholas Chakos.
Children need healthy food all year long. During the school year, 21 million children receive free and reduced-price meals through National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs. However, when school lets out, only 3.8 million participate in summer feeding programs, leaving millions of children at risk for hunger. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of nutrition during the summer months sets a cycle for poor performance once school begins again and makes children more prone to illness and other health issues. FOCUS’ summer feeding program is designed to fill that nutrition gap and make sure children get the nutritious meals they need.
Working with The Sodexo Foundation and local branches of the YMCA, FOCUS will provide breakfast and lunch to approximately 200 children every weekday during the summer. Meals are prepared by Sodexo at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital and distributed to children who participate in Phoenix-area YMCA day camp programs. Approximately 16,750 meals will be served through August 7. This Phoenix initiative with FOCUS is part of Sodexo’s Feeding our Future initiative, a national program that has provided more than 4 million free meals to children in 24 cities across America.
Facilitating the health and education of children, through programs such as summer meal service, is a key activity of FOCUS. For the past six years, FOCUS has helped more than 252,000 disadvantaged children with educational support services while assisting their parents through vocational training, job placement and housing services. Each summer, in addition to summer meal service, FOCUS helps families in need get ready to go back-to-school by providing children with medical and dental checkups, school supplies, new backpacks and new athletic shoes so that they can attend school ready to learn and succeed.
FOCUS North America has partnered with Ancient Faith Radio to bring you a podcast dedicated to updating you on the ministers of FOCUS throughout North America. Check it out here!
FOCUS North America recently participated in a forum to expand food security and child nutrition programs aimed at ending child hunger in the United States. Held at the White House, FOCUS Executive Director Nicholas Chakos joined leaders from 25 domestic charities in a pledge to become champions of feeding the millions of American children who are hungry through no fault of their own.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to expand FOCUS’ existing feeding programs, which has provided over 450,000 meals to hungry children and their families over the past three years and to engage Orthodox Christian parishes in feeding hungry children in their own communities,” Chakos said.
Feeding hungry children and their families is a core component of FOCUS’ programs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 15 million children lack access to enough nutritious food to provide them with a healthy life. Through no fault of their own, these children often go hungry during critical years of growth and learning.
While child nutrition safety nets are in place at schools to provide children at risk of hunger with free or reduced-price meals through school lunch and breakfast programs, many children do not eat adequately outside of school hours, over weekends or during the summer when schools are closed.
Working with 250 school districts in 30 cities nationwide, FOCUS has provided important food and educational support programs that help kids when they are away from school.
Now, FOCUS plans on expanding our feeding programs to engage Orthodox parishes and feed hungry children during summer months when children often suffer from hunger.
“Feeding children during the summer is critically important,” says FOCUS’ Chakos. Our evening and weekend feeding programs have shown us the importance of keeping kids fed, healthy and ready to learn all week long. But why should our work stop at the end of the school year? Children have even less access to nutritious food over the summer and FOCUS’ feeding programs should continue to help end children’s hunger all year long.”
Together with FOCUS, Orthodox parishes, youth groups or women’s groups nationwide can feed hungry children during the summer months when child hunger is at its peak. FOCUS will work with you to provide all the necessary resources, information and support so that you can engage your friends and family in an important that will engage your parish in active outreach and provide hungry children in your community with the access to healthy and nutritious food that they need.
Athletes and FOCUS enthusiasts alike recently gathered to participate in the inaugural San Francisco Bay Area Run for FOCUS. Hosted by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in San Francisco and organized by local volunteers, the event featured 1 mile, 5K, and 10K races. Awards were given to competitive runners, while other participants enjoyed walking the course.
“I’m glad we had a very good turnout and I’m glad it benefits FOCUS,” said local event coordinator Alina Astilean. “This was the first time for a lot of these people to do a 5K and it was the cause that got them out. It’s great that FOCUS can promote physical fitness while gaining local support!”
“We were blessed with perfect weather, it was fun, and everyone had a great time being active and meeting people from other parishes in the area,” said George Pettis of San Jose, one of the runners.
Many participants are hoping to make it an annual event based on the success of this first race. “It would be incredible to see this model grow for next year and spread throughout the country!” said volunteer Johanna Duterte.
Proceeds from the race will go to benefit Operation Lace Up and other FOCUS programs.
If you or your parish is interested in hosting a FOCUS event, please contact our national office.
Everyone knows that FOCUS helps people and families in need, right here in America. But what many people don’t realize is that through helping others, it’s often our own lives that are transformed the most.
FOCUS has produced a series of short films, directed by award-winning filmmaker Kevin Bryce, that showcase our powerful work and the life-changing effect it has on all involved.
Watch a 2-minute video about a successful businessman who lost it all and became homeless. His inspiring story is a powerful testament to God’s limitless love.
Share this link on Facebook or by forwarding this email to your friends and family and look for more videos from FOCUS soon!< FOCUS North America’s philanthropic activities continue to be an outgrowth of the love and mercy that naturally emanate from our Orthodox communities throughout the United States. We provide practical opportunities for Orthodox faithful to come and put their faith into action. Through our Centers, our “day of service” activities for families, the YES program and our nationwide on-the-ground volunteer network, FOCUS engages tens of thousands of people in almost 30 cities across America to come and witness God’s limitless love and to provide help and hope to the poor and homeless. This Lenten season, remember FOCUS as one of the many tools available to you in your Paschal journey. By uniting to help others, we are drawn closer together as a community, a people, a nation – so that together we may draw nearer to Christ.
A video presentation by Remi Nichols, YES Student Leader
FOCUS North America is pleased to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its YES Program–Youth Equipped to Serve. Since its founding in 2004, YES has introduced more than 1,000 Orthodox teens and families to life-changing service opportunities in cities across the United States and Canada.
YES exposes junior high and high school students to the realities of poverty, engages them in weekend service opportunities, and equips them to become leaders in their church, school and community. YES seeks to raise up a generation of Orthodox Christians who live out the true mission of the Church–to love and serve our most needy neighbors–and who lead others to do the same.
“Through YES, we feed the hungry and clothe the naked, but that's just the beginning. We learn how to build relationships with everyone in our society, just like Jesus built relationships with tax collectors and sinners.”–Maria, age 17
“My experience with YES has given me the courage to see people with new eyes and to treat them, regardless of who they are, without preconceived notions, and to love them for their humanity.” – Panayiotis, age 19
Watch this short video to see how YES is transforming the lives of young Orthodox Christians.
You can join us in celebrating YES' 10th anniversary by giving a $10 donation to YES. Simply text the word FOCUS to 52000 from your mobile phone. Your donation helps ensure that this vital ministry continues for years to come.
Each week, FOCUS puts families into affordable and permanent housing. We help the unemployed and the underemployed get jobs. We provide healthcare to those who don’t have insurance. We help kids stay in school to get the education they need to break the generational cycle of poverty. We feed hungry families every single day of the year. This year alone, FOCUS will serve more than 120,000 meals to working poor families and the homeless – and that number doesn’t even count the lunches and meals that we deliver to shut-ins and school children through our backpack feeding program.
The Orthodox faith uses the command to “stand” repeatedly. Our faith calls us to stand together – not just in words and in prayers – but to stand as an action, in active service to others. We are challenged each day to stand and let God’s grace flow through us so that our hands are merely the tools through which God can work His miracles.
Let us stand together to Tackle Poverty here in America and to help those in need. Let us offer unconditional love and support to our neighbors so that they can cross the bridge from despair to hope.
Join FOCUS North America, a national movement that brings opportunity, help and hope – and together we will transform the lives of the homeless and working poor, moving them from lives of dependency to self-sufficiency.