|Volunteers from Salem United Methodist Church smoked 500 chickens for distribution at LifeWise STL on Saturday, May 23. (Contributed photo).|
LifeWise STL has a long history of working with United Methodists in support of people on the margins in St. Louis. This spring has certainly been no exception.
“We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to help with the greatest need we’ve had in decades,” said Lifewise STL President Scott Walker. “For people already in crisis, their needs have been exasperated. It’s time to step up, and we’re doing it.”
Lifewise STL was formerly known as Kingdom House. It started out helping immigrant communities in St. Louis in 1902 and is still in service to many immigrant families. LIfeWise STL has been providing direct food assistance in St. Louis during the pandemic, distributing 750 bags of groceries per week at a cost of $15,000 per week. They have also provided $500 rental and utility bill assistance to 118 families of people who do not qualify for unemployment.
A partner with Methodist churches from its very origin, LifeWise STL been receiving a lot of direct support from local United Methodist churches, with large churches like The Gathering, Salem and Manchester sponsoring a week of food distributions, and smaller churches giving what they can to support the cause as well.
“United Methodist churches in our community have been amazing in their support. It’s not just the large churches. Small churches have been great supporters, and that’s very important,” Walker said. “It’s the church being the church.”
Local United Methodist churches have contributed $48,000 plus food from food drives during the pandemic. On Saturday, May 23, the Holy Smokers from Salem UMC in Ladue smoked 500 chickens for the ministry.
LifeWise STL received a $20,000 Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee On Relief (UMCOR). To date, 15 grants have been approved from the UMCOR COVID-19 Response Fund, awarding $163,440 to partners seeking to address issues intensified by the spread of the coronavirus, such as food and economic insecurity, water, sanitation and hygiene, and health.
Walker believes they may have hit the peak level of resource need in St. Louis, but he doesn’t expect that need to go down anytime soon. He’s also concerned about lack of summer school and other in-person summer programs for children. LifeWise has been working to develop feeding sites to meet unexpected nutritional needs and is also reaching out to families to provide emotional support. Tutors from LifeWise STL have been assisting children who have challenges with online learning.
Initially LifeWiseSTL was trying to do most of the work with staff to decrease possible virus exposure to volunteers, but as distancing restrictions are relaxed more volunteer opportunities will be available. For more on LifeWiseSTL go to www.lifewisestl.org.