Thanks to a $500 Matthew 25 grant from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) a small Youngstown, Ohio, congregation was able to recently distribute food, clothing, hygiene kits and other items to people homeless or in need “living under the bridge” in their community.
Fifteen volunteers from Calvary Baptist Church in Youngstown were the voices, hands and feet of Christ for the initiative. Calvary worships about 40 on Sunday mornings, according to Pastor Jim Walcott of the congregation. Dr. Rudy Braydich, a dentist in the community, suggested that Calvary become a partner in the “Under the Bridge” ministry, which is supported by a number of congregations. Braydich also teaches Sunday school in the congregation. “The Bridge” community in downtown Youngstown is “home” year-round to many homeless neighbors. It is next door to a soup kitchen. Calvary is a half-dozen miles or so from the “Bridge” location.
The Matthew 25 Grant program, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.” In Fall 2015, a total of 69 applicants received funding ranging from $500 to $5,000 with a total awarded of $169,140. Grant applications are welcomed twice a year – March 1 and Sept. 1. An ABCUSA connection is required to be eligible for a grant.
“We’re so grateful to the generous donor,” Pastor Walcott said. “It is through this means that the Lord multiplied ‘the loaves and fishes’ our congregation provided with the help of other donors.”
The grant made possible provision of dozens of wool socks, hoodies, 12 x 18-foot tarps and hygiene items. Friends of the congregation donated coats, toothbrushes and toothpaste. To build relationships with recipients and introductory meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and butter, soft drinks and cupcakes was provided. No grant money was used for the meal.
The application process for a Matthew 25 Grant is structured to help small ministries with limited staff time. For more information on the grant and application process visit: http://www.abc-usa.org/matthew25/.