More than 70 members of at least 20 different places of worship from throughout Orange County gathered last week at the monthly meeting of the Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council to focus on resources for the homeless. The luncheon and meeting was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Dover Drive.
“Our homeless population is increasing but the number of resources is decreasing,” explained Rev. Julie Elkins, president of the Newport-Mesa-Irvine interfaith Council and Senior Minister ofFirst United Methodist Church in Costa Mesa. “Obviously the nature of the economy plays a major part in this, and we’re seeing an increasing problem with seniors who are on fixed income. This is the second year we’ve dealt with the issue of homelessness and it was very helpful for the many different places of worship to learn what is out there.”
“So often, the homeless go to churches, mosques or synagogues, because that’s where they feel safe, but some of those places are struggling too,” Julie continued. “Today was to introduce everybody to the different resources that help the lives of the homeless, and for people to learn what is available. Our monthly meetings help bridge all our faiths and to find commonalities and peace.”
The Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council is made up of more than 120 congregations and hundreds of religious leaders who share the vision of building a community that honors and respects each other’s faiths. Their stated mission is: “A spiritual and ethical force of faith community representatives that enables inter-religious dialogue and service.”
“We are an organization of different faiths who come together for common action and to learn about different faiths,” stated Jim de Boom.
Jim has been a member of the organization since 1975, and executive director since 1989.
Those at the meeting heard presentations and gathered information from Families Forward, Family Promise, Friendship Shelter, Grandma’s House of Hope, Laura’s House, Laguna Relief and Resource Coalition, Mercy House, Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter, Orange County Rescue Mission, Share Our Selves, Someone Cares Soup Kitchen, South County Outreach, U.S. Vets and 2-1-1.
Jaimie Day from LDS was very pleased with the event.
“These luncheons that focus on helping the homeless always come at a great time,” Jaime said. “It’s this time of year that people begin to think about those who have no shelter or food. It also comes in time for us to come together at the Hearts & Hands Community Service Day which brings people from all over California to perform hands-on acts of service for those in our local communities and many all over the world who are in need.”
Hearts & Hands Community Service Day is a day of hands-on service for students and families of all faiths and communities to work on projects to help those in our community as well as overseas. Examples of the 24 projects are: building handmade wooden toys for children in disaster shelters, crocheting blankets for shut-ins, a canned food drive, creating hair accessories for young orphan girls, a blood drive and a Military Honor Wall.
The event will be Saturday, Nov. 17, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 801 Dover Drive. Admission is two or more cans of food. Students and Scouts can earn credit service hours.
Another upcoming event organized by the Newport-Mesa-Irvine Interfaith Council is the 24th annual Interfaith CROP (Communities Reaching Out to People) Walk, which will step off at 1 p.m. on Oct 28 at Our Lady Queen of Angels. Hundreds of walkers of all faiths, ages and walks of life will go along the upper Newport Ba,y to help end world hunger. Information is available at cropwalkonline.org/newportbeachca.
“In Orange County, we have a large population of people who are homeless or heed help, but we also have a large population of people with many different resources to help, but many just don’t know how,” Julie said. “There are so many ways people can make a difference, no matter where they are on the economic scale. Obviously people can contribute money, but they can also contribute time, or participate in any number of things.”
“Don’t bury head in the sand and don’t be shy,” Julie continued. “Check out S.O.S. – it’s an amazing organization; volunteer at Someone Cares Soup kitchen; take a tour of something; adopt a family because the holidays are coming. There are so many ways to help and to get involved. We need to take care of one another. Ask your pastor, rabbi or imam about how you can help.”
For further information, email nminterfaith.org. Cindy can be reached at [email protected]