[Kansas City, MO] The Board of Directors of FOCUS North America convened their fall meeting in Minneapolis, MN at the new FOCUS Minnesota ministry center. In attendance were 5 standing members of the national board which include: Chairman Mr. Charles Ajalat, Vice Chairman Mr. William Hoeft, Secretary Dr. Julie Papatheofanis, Mrs. Lory Barsdate Easton, Mr. Brian Gerich, Fr. Tom Avramis and Ms. Georgia Kazakis. FOCUS Executive Director, Fr. Justin Mathews, and local and national staff were present as well. The Board of Directors was especially pleased to welcome Mr. Wendell Maddox and Dr. Nick Pandelides, its two newest members of the Board of Directors, to their first meeting.
The Board took note with satisfaction, the 2009-10 performances of the various FOCUS ministry centers throughout the US established in the past year for having accomplished most of the planned activities within limited budgets. A highlight of this meeting was the ability to connect for free to the various FOCUS centers of operation nationally via Skype. Each FOCUS center was able to be present at the meeting to report back on ministry activities in their own area and to engage in a lively Q&A with board members. In only the last five months it was noted that over 500 Orthodox Christian volunteers from all jurisdictions volunteered literally thousands of hours with FOCUS NA to help provide food and care for their needy neighbors through the six new FOCUS Centers.
Attendees of this meeting also had the opportunity to work closely alongside the local Advisory Council and volunteers of FOCUS Minnesota to serve a meal to the hungry on Friday night. Nearly 90 meals were provided to those in need served by 42 volunteers representing 9 Orthodox parishes. As a result of a shoe drive in the local parishes, free shoes and boots were also handed out to the guests as they left.
In addition to serving the poor by establishing operational FOCUS centers and supplying parishes with needed resources, especially through the YES (Youth Equipped to Serve) Program that grew tremendously in 2010, a key part of the mission of FOCUS North America is to support existing Orthodox ministries facilitating or working directly with those most in need. Grants were awarded to new FOCUS Partner Ministries including St. George Food Pantry (OCA, TX), St. Michael’s Community Meal (Romanian, MA), Open Door Meal Ministry and St. Brigid’s Pantry (Bulgarian, MA), St. Gregory of Nyssa hot lunch program (OCA, OH). In all FOCUS North America donors helped distribute over $50,000 in partner ministry grants in 2010.
“In our challenging work to bring help and hope to our brothers and sisters in need here at home our National Board provide strong Christian vision and direction, and an example of philanthropic love that undergirds our work and our ability to serve Christ through love for our neighbors,” said Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director.