This year, people are hurting. They need help with basics like food more than ever.
So, our Outreach Committee decided to designate our Easter offering to be shared 50/50 between two food pantries: the Family Network of Wyoming where we donate food and paper goods each month, and The Green Apple where we will (someday again) volunteer.
Hallelujah! Together we sent in $3,305 (in addition to our regular pledge donations), and that has now been split and checks mailed to the two pantries. Let us bless the Lord!
Yes! Our Outreach Committee has decided to use any special offerings we receive at the two services on Christmas Eve to help fund the training of Max the poodle as a service dog for Evan, son of Genia and Amber LaNore. “Special offerings” means any offering in the plate not in a pledge envelope or otherwise marked as a pledge.
Why Evan needs a service dog
As you may know, Evan suffered a brain injury in a bicycle crash when he was 5. He needs a service dog to help keep him emotionally balanced, to notice when Evan is losing control of his emotions, to be a source of love, friendship and help.
The service dog training facility Genia and Amber contacted recommended a poodle puppy because they’re smart, loving, and easy to train. Last fall they found “Clyde,” born last July. Evan said his puppy picture looked “grumpy just like I get sometimes, so he’ll understand me.”
Getting Max trained
Evan goes to a special school in Farmington Hills, and Max lives at a service dog training camp about 16 minutes away. Working with Max is part of Evan’s Behavioral Therapy program so his therapist takes Evan to the training camp as part of their time together. Evan has been working with Max for a few hours once a week, and starting in January, Evan will be spending an additional evening there with Max and the trainer.
Max is doing great at learning all his basic skills, Sit, Down, Come, Stay, Place and of course potty training. In a report on Dec. 6, trainer Luke wrote:
Evan did fantastic with Max on his visit on Tuesday. Evan went over each of Max’s commands for his therapist and did a great job. Evan’s body language and hand signals were perfect and Max followed through on each command on the first ask.
Max was super focused on Evan, and it was a perfect combination of Max’s smarts and Evan having learned how to communicate with him. Max was very happy to see Evan and wanted to spend the entire visit with him. Sometimes Max wants to come sit by me or looks at me for approval, but this time he was glued to Evan the whole time.
Service dog training is expensive. By the time Max is fully trained, Genia and Amber will have spent upwards of $10,000 on training alone. Then there are transportation costs.
The facility where Evan lives will bring Evan home to West Michigan for visits, they won’t bring Max since he’s not yet a certified service dog. So, when the family wants them home together, they have to drive over (about 6 hours and a tank of gas) to get them and then again to return them after the visit (another 6 hours and another tank of gas).
Max was home for Thanksgiving and came to Holy Trinity for Advent 1. He was so great during the service! He sat up while we were standing to sing and laid at Evan’s feet when we sat, which is exactly what he’s supposed to do.
Service dogs are generally 14-16 months when they are fully trained and ready to partner with their people full time. So we’re expecting that they won’t be a full team ready to work until the end of 2020. Then, the hope is that Max will be able to keep Evan stable enough to live at home with his moms and attend school here.
If you’d like to make a contribution to Max’s training, please drop it in the offering plate Christmas Eve or send it to the church marked “Evan & Max fund.” Or, if you aren’t around but would still like to donate (just not through Holy Trinity), you can go to the Evan & Max GoFundMe page.
Update, June 2: We collected 70 sets of twin sheets for Family Promise!
We’re having a “Give a Sheet” sheet drive for the emergency shelter at Family Promise. Bring new, packaged, twin sheet sets to church, and we’ll bless them on Sunday, May 19 and then donate them to Family Promise for families in the Fulton Manor emergency shelter. These sheets go with the families when they leave the shelter for their new apartments.
Learn more about Family Promise
Join us at the 10 a.m. service on Sunday, May 5, to learn more about Family Promise and how we can serve the working homeless. Their Executive Director, Cheryl Schuch, will present information on the organization and their newest project. For more details, visit their website.
The Holy Trinity family has done it again! We dedicated our Easter offering to bringing Jacob Chol’s wife, Kuany, and their three children from Nairobi to Grand Rapids, and we did it! Read Jacob’s story.
With the grand total raised at more than $6,000, Jacob was able to buy the plane tickets this week. He will be reunited with his family when they arrive at the Grand Rapids airport on Saturday, May 18. Alleluia! God is good!
Look for plans soon about joining the welcoming party at the airport when the family arrives.
This year, our Easter offering will go towards reuniting Jacob Chol, a refugee from Sudan who came here in 2001 and became a citizen in 2008, with his wife Kuany and their three children. Read Jacob’s story in the Outreach section of this website.
Kuany and the kids just received visas last month, and the only thing standing between them in Nairobi and Jacob here in Grand Rapids are … plane tickets.
Father Pete and the Outreach committee already have $1,500 of the $3,000 to $4,000 needed. Our plan is to contribute the Easter day offering in hopes that we can raise enough to bring the family here.
Please be generous
Use the special Easter offering envelope if you have envelopes, or you can mail us a check at the church address: 5333 Clyde Park Ave. SW, Wyoming, MI, 49509. Just write “For Jacob and family” on the memo line of your check.
If all goes well, they will be reunited by June, before the end of the Easter season!
Our Sunday School kids are planning an outreach project again this year. They are
collecting small unopened, unused bottles of perfume, lotion, nail polish, hair products, deodorant, personal products, etc. and putting together “goodie bags” for the women who reside at a domestic crisis shelter. Most often, these women arrive at the shelter without anything but the clothes on their backs.
Please bring your donations to Sunday School classroom 4 on or before Sunday, May 5.