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Sharing a Thankful Heart: St John’s, ECS & Head Start

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chula Vista has a long history of outreach and service to families in the surrounding neighborhood. For nearly 70 years, from 1951 to 2017, the congregation served students from kindergarten to eighth grade through St. John’s Episcopal Day School. In 2017 the school closed due to low enrollment and a changing financial landscape. A big part of the parish’s identity was gone. The parish missed children on the campus and in the chapel.

Two years ago, the new rector at St. John’s, Rev. Roger Haenke put renewed emphasis on outreach and service to the community and their neighbors.  With the groundwork laid by Norma Dunn, and under the direction of Jeff Bates, St. John’s outreach is more focused and effective.

In 2019, the congregation partnered with Episcopal Community Services (ECS) to bring the Head Start program to their campus. This brought life back to the classrooms of St. John’s. Not only are children on the campus, but St. John’s also has a blooming relationship with ECS as they administer the Head Start program housed on the church campus.

This past year St. John’s launched a campaign to provide holiday dinners to the families of the children enrolled in the Head Start program.  This past Sunday, St. John’s blessed and donated 47 grocery bags of non-perishable Thanksgiving groceries to St. John’s Head Start Program.  In addition to the groceries, St. John’s donated $1,025 in gift cards with which families can buy perishable foods for their Thanksgiving tables.

 

In attendance to welcome the donation was Elizabeth Fitzsimons, Chief Executive Officer of ECS, and Angel Ibarra, Community Engagement Manager at ECS.  Both Ms. Fitzsimons and Mr. Ibarra have worked closely with St. John’s to build a bridge between the parish and Head Start within the guidelines of the Federal Program.  ECS administers Head Start in San Diego County with 17 sites, St. John’s being the largest Head Start. Ms. Fitzsimons, Mr. Ibarra, and Rev. Haenke all look forward to continued service to the Head Start Community and the partnership between St. John’s and ECS.

This is not the first time that St. John’s has been able to bless the Head Start students and their families. At the beginning of the school year, St. John’s donated 133 backpacks stuffed with school supplies to the children of Head Start.  ECS helped to distribute the backpacks to the children when school began.

St. John’s also hosted a dinner for ECS’ Para Las Familias just weeks prior to the pandemic and served a spaghetti dinner for approximately 120 people.  Children were invited to make crafts, play games, and enjoy a story performed by Write Out Loud. In addition, members of St Johns’ read weekly to the children at Head Start and look forward to other ways to serve the families at Head Start.

The committed partnership between St. John’s and ECS to serve the families at Head Start is yet another example of the courageous love congregations in the Diocese of San Diego demonstrate to their neighbors.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Chula Vista has a long history of outreach and service to families in the surrounding neighborhood. For nearly 70 years, from 1951 to 2017, the congregation served students from kindergarten to eighth grade through St. John’s Episcopal Day School. In 2017 the school closed due to low enrollment and a changing financial landscape. A big part of the parish’s identity was gone. The parish missed children on the campus and in the chapel.

 

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Category: #Evangelism, #Salt and Light, #Worship & Formation

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