Many Years To Eric Shanburn After 10 Years of Service at FOCUS!

Eric Shanburn Announces Departure As Director of FOCUS Detroit

“Christ tells us to love God and our neighbor. Eric shows us how to do that with all of our strength.”

These are the words of Elleni, a volunteer who worked first-hand with Eric Shanburn during his time as Director of FOCUS Detroit. Elleni alongside countless other community members who worked with Eric  can speak to the lasting impact his leadership and vision has had, and will continue to have, on the community.

Last week it was announced that Eric Shanburn will be leaving his position as Director of FOCUS Detroit and moving on to pursue his passion for Social Work at Concordia University. Eric was one of the first center directors of FOCUS North America, beginning his journey with FOCUS in St. Louis and then moving to Detroit in 2015 where he has mobilized hundreds of people towards serving the mission of “empowering children experiencing poverty to succeed in school.

“Eric has a special ability to motivate and mobilize groups toward a common cause. In Detroit, that cause has been childhood education. Eric saw early on that children from impoverished neighborhoods in Detroit did not have access to necessary educational resources or basic needs like food and clothing. In 2015 the city of Detroit was experiencing economic crisis and many schools did not have what they needed to provide an adequate education, some even shutting down completely.

Eric knew that something had to be done and wanted to engage his fellow Orthodox Community in finding a solution to the issues of poverty and education that affect virtually every school in Detroit.

During his time as director of FOCUS Detroit, Eric’s dedication and leadership helped Orthodox Christians throughout Detroit connect to their faith through practicing meaningful and compassionate service. Together, FOCUS Detroit and the local community provided thousands of meals, clothing items, textbooks, technology resources, and tutoring services to children.

When there were needs brought to Eric’s attention that fell outside of the regular programs that operated throughout the year, he still did not hesitate to rally the community to action. One Christmas, for example, Eric helped a young mother find an apartment and furniture for her family.
Those of you who have served with Eric in the past probably have your own story of how his vision has touched your own heart, and motivated you to take action.

“Eric serves with love and without judging” Shared Elleni, “He gives the Orthodox community a way to reach out to others with his vision and leadership. Eric embodies the mission of FOCUS.”

Any organization would be saddened to see such a talented leader move on to the next opportunity, and we at FOCUS are beyond thankful for the dedication, talent, and time Eric has invested in building a foundation for Orthodox outreach in Detroit.

The mission of FOCUS, and the vision that inspired Eric’s accomplishments during his time as a Director, is a mission and vision that all of us share as Orthodox Christians who strive to serve as Christ taught us. Now is the time to take advantage of the foundation Eric has created in Detroit, and engage in compassionately serving those in need with as much enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment that Eric has shown us over the years through his example.

Please join FOCUS in wishing Eric many more successful years as he begins the next step of his journey at Concordia University.

God Grant You Many Years!

Grand Opening of FOCUS House in Minnesota is the Foundation for a Future of Charity, Hope, and Hospitality

FOCUS House Front of Building and SignFOCUS Minnesota welcomed nearly 200 guests who all came together to give thanks and celebrate the official Blessing and Open House of their new building on June 1, 2019. FOCUS Minnesota is a local ministry of FOCUS North America that provides basic needs and compassionate service to people in the Twin Cities.
During the event, visitors from all of the Pan-Orthodox jurisdictions prayed, chanted, and sang together for the homeless, the lonely, the addicted, the imprisoned, the children who often silently suffer, and all clients of FOCUS Minnesota. Guests also enjoyed self-guided tours, refreshments, and words of perseverance, determination, and gratitude from Director Vera Proctor.
FOCUS Minnesota started as a simple community meal prepared and served by local Orthodox volunteers from a small basement kitchen for anyone who needed it. Today the ministry has transformed into a vibrant multi-program operation that offers dignity, hope, comfort, and Christ-inspired love to all who visit.
Thanks to the generosity and dedication of the community FOCUS has room to continue growing, now with the stability of a permanent home in the historic Capitol Rice District of St. Paul.
Volunteers who served prior to the move are excited to see that the new building is friendlier for visitors.
Kathy Schtowchan started volunteering before the move and shared what it was like before coming to the new building. Lake Street, she said, “was a small area, and it was in in a basement where we had steps to climb all the time.”
Now on Rice Street, FOCUS House is more accessible and visible to the community. “To get in here is just unbelievable,” said Kathy.
Director Vera and VolunteersThe Open House event on June 1st ushered in the start of programs at the new facility. The Clothes Closet offers free clothing, accessories, and household and hygiene products for men and women twice a week. The Food Shelf distributes needed food and pantry items twice a month to those in need. FOCUS Minnesota is also able to offer two new programs for the first time in their new space: Storytime for children and parents, as well as Resume and Cover Letter Writing workshops!
Moving from Minneapolis brings the opportunity to serve in new ways, and also a chance serve new neighbors living in St. Paul. At the open house event Denise Yellow-Solle, FOCUS House food shelf coordinator, shared her happiness and excitement “to meet our new families.”
Even though FOCUS Minnesota’s location has moved to St. Paul, the reach of FOCUS continues to extend throughout the Twin Cities. Senator Amy Klobuchar offered words in support of the work FOCUS does to serve people in need throughout the Twin Cities.
“FOCUS Minnesota’s mission,” Sen. Klobuchar said, “remains critical as we work to better the lives of all Minnesotans.”
Volunteers look forward to meeting new families at Rice Street, as well as serving old friends who have grown close to those at FOCUS throughout the life of the ministry.
As if a testament to the relationships FOCUS builds with those they serve, the first two customers who visited FOCUS after the official grand opening were friends who frequently visited the Lake Street location. Volunteers who served after the grand opening agreed it was wonderful to see them and help with some of their needs.
To FOCUS Minnesota Director, Vera Proctor, FOCUS House is the beginning of a story with a future “that firmly establishes an Orthodox Christian legacy of charity, hope, and hospitality here in the Twin Cities.”
“We have a future now,” Vera shares, “and it is secured.”
Glory be to God for the work that is being done in Minnesota, and for all those who pray, give, and serve in the Twin Cities!
Priest and Crowd Gather to Bless the New Building