“It happens three times a week or so.”
Three times a week, one of Eastside’s community partners reaches out to our Local Compassion department with news of an individual or family’s pressing need. Erica Sperrazzo, Director of Local Compassion at Eastside Christian Church, then gets to work, seeking out the ways and means necessary in order to assist the person(s) in dire straights. “Just recently we learned of a family experiencing homeless in Santa Fe Springs with a brand new 4-week old baby. Eastside was able to come to their aid in donating a Pack ‘n’ Play, blankets, diapers and wipes to this family in need.” It’s examples like these that have led to the formation of an on-call team at Eastside.
The team will be composed of volunteers willing to be asked for assistance when a need in our community arises. With 15 cents of every dollar we entrust to Eastside going towards the aid of people such as this family, being a part of a volunteer team like this deepens our understanding and adds meaning to the money given towards our community. Our giving goes from being transactional and void of relationship, to tangible and fulfilling as we the church get to see what our tithes are able to do–whata gift, indeed!
Being on the team doesn’t always mean being available to help move a family however. Erica shared that if we are in possession of unused resources such as extra small appliances or furniture that is no longer needed, that donations such as these could make a huge difference in the life of a person experiencing homeless or a family in transition. Whether it be a sofa, coffee machine or artwork, material resources given in love have the power to communicate support, warmth and comfort to an individual adjusting to their first home off the street.
From the many conversations with individuals in transition or living in poverty, Erica explains that most times what these folks are truly experiencing is communal and spiritual poverty, rather than solely the lack of tangible resources. In being open to volunteering as a part of the on-call team, we are able to actually represent the hands of Jesus in offering individuals something much deeper than a tangible gift, but the dignity of recognizing them as human beings with the relational necessity of being heard, seen and known.
Although the thought of signing up for this team may be nothing short of terrifying for some of us as we consider volunteering for our schedules, routines and comfort to be wrecked, we believe we should also gain a better understanding of what Jesus stood for: being constantly open to being interrupted. Erica expounded in saying that the decision to assist our community in this way may be very sacrificial and uncomfortable for some, but “when we choose to have eyes and ears to view people the way Jesus did, the return is far greater than anything we could ever put into our hands.”
We all have the ability to be leaders in our social circles, families and places of work, and we believe that if given the opportunity to be known, the individuals that are typically unseen in our society would reveal their humanity to look identical to our own! That we would come to recognize the same basic need for community is shared across the board despite cultural or economical differences.
So what do you say? We invite you to join us in being a church that is interruptible for the greater good of our community and desires to unleash compassion in a way that stretches us beyond our comfort zones. If you’re interested in joining us in this effort, visit eastside.com/servelocally to sign up and know that your selflessness will not go unappreciated or unseen.