A $600 grant from the United Church of Christ has planted a growing ministry in the California desert. Our congregation, Bloom in the Desert UCC in Palm Springs, received a grant from the June 2018 “Keep Families Together” emergency appeal, sent by UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries. With that grant we've been able to multiply our efforts to assist migrant families who have arrived in our area, in partnership with a Catholic church in Coachella.
The grant motivated our congregation to make this work a priority. This spring we challenged ourselves to grow those funds so we could provide over $2,000 in financial support, plus donating an equal amount of basic food, clothing and hygiene supplies, which we have delivered to Our Lady of Soledad's migrant center.
The Coachella church is serving as an intake facility, one of several faith communities and social service agencies helping migrants released from overflowing processing centers by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Once in April and again in May, a group from Bloom UCC's Social Action and Mission team, led by Ed Span and Ramon Fuentes, packed up donations to take to Father Guy and Sister Flo. Our Lady of Soledad's center initially received 30 migrants daily, as they sent another group 30 on their way.
Then, through a connection of one of Bloom's members, our church was able to obtain a $5,000 grant from a family foundation based in Idaho. This unexpected gift is being used to help make bulk purchases of the most needed items. The number of new arrivals continues to grow as does our determination to assist however we can.
This week a caravan of church members delivered over $3,000 of urgently needed items to Our Lady of Soledad which now continues to receive more than 100 migrant asylum seekers daily. We are encouraged and inspired by the outpouring of support from our members and now the larger community. Laundry detergent, toilet paper, toothbrushes and individual sized toiletries, coolers, three pallets of storage containers and children ‘s coloring books – all supplies that are being delivered this week to the Bloom office.
I'm not sure we would have been inspired to action to the extent we have been without the initial support from the special UCC "Keeping Families Together" fund.
Jim Nixon leads the Permanence Committee for Bloom in the Desert United Church of Christ, Palm Springs, Calif.