“Jerome says, ‘Hi’”… This is what Tina added as I ushered her into the STARS closet to get a Zion sweatshirt. She had not gotten one at Christmas, she said, and her mom wanted one, too. Her mom was short and kind of small so maybe a medium would do...
Jesus Says, "Go!"
Zion tries to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by loving our neighborhood. We are open to exploring every good idea and every request as we try to proclaim our Savior by serving others. A few of things we're doing:
School Transportation: Every school day, Zion moves students to and from school. The students are considered attendance risks because of their distance from school. Most are in the English Language Learner program at school. Volunteer van drivers are always needed.
Wednesday Night Community Meal: Zion provides a meal for anyone who is hungry each Wednesday night during the school year. We serve and average of 10,082 meals on Wednesday nights, mostly to hungry kids, the children of refugees. On average, we serve 400 meals a week.
Weekend Meals - Backpack Buddies: The local school has identified students that may not be getting nutritious meals when not at school. At school request, we are currently supplying 40 meals a weekend that are sent home in backpacks with the students. Monetary donations are needed as are volunteers to help package the ready to eat meal products.
Clothes Closet: Our clothes closet is well stocked and is open Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - Noon. And on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. - Noon and Wednesday nights from 6 - 8 p.m. We are happy to recieve your donated items.
STARS Kids: Our neighborhood schools are full with English Language Learner students whose primary language is not English. Most Wednesday nights in the school year and now in the summer, we try to provide English language and reading help for students in elementary through high school. We provide a safe environment for them to ask questions, enjoy some food and fun, and gain cultural and reading literacy. STARS stands for SERVE, TEACH, ADVOCATE, REACH, and SEND, which are our five primary objectives. Click here to see the STARS Kids Flyer. Find out more...
Street Outreach: Join us every third Saturday of the month at 9:00 a.m. to make 150 sack lunches and sort clothing and supplies for our area homeless. Stay around for the second phase, delivering the meals and supplies to those living in camps or on the street. Everyone is offered prayer as well. Volunteers and donations of food and supplies are welcome.
Monday Night Supper Club: Quarterly, Zion serves a Taco Supper at Children and Families Urban Ministry. The meal is prepared and delivered and served by volunteers.
Furniture Ministry: Zion's lobby is usually full of donated furniture that is available for anyone seeking to set up housekeeping. Donations can be brought to the church and we have teams that will deliver to families in need. Volunteers are always welcome to help receive and deliver furniture for new families to our city.
Community Gardens: Zion has dedicated a portion of our property for garden plots. The plots are awarded to people who have no other access to land for growing their own food. We especially want new immigrants and refugees to have access to these plots. We can always use help maintaining the garden area. There are currently 60 plots.
ESL Classes: We currently have level 1 and level 2 English classes each Sunday and Wednesday. On Wednesdays, we partner with the Iowa International Center. We provide childcare and transportation for these classes on Wednesdays and Sundays. If you can’t speak English, it’s hard to get a job or even function in our society. We are also pleased to host LSI ESL classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. For information on those classes, please contact LSI.
Partnership with Local Schools: We try to have an excellent relationship with our local schools by providing volunteers, clothes, and supplies as the school requests. In addition, we try to give every student in the local elementary school a book twice a year. Church vans are frequently used to transport classes from local schools to field trips because the costs of using a school bus are so high. Check the news and announcements for the next service opportunity.
Summer Programming/Art Camp/Vacation Bible School: Please check the website for dates and times. We try to maintain contact with the children of our community during the summer. We try to provide opportunities for field trips and activities during the summer months. Volunteers are always needed.
Summer Camps: Working in conjunction with summer camps in Iowa, each year we send as many of our neighborhood kids to camp as possible. Our current goal is to send 100 kids a year. We believe that going to summer camps helps the kids learn social skills and English and also gets them out of a world that is mostly defined by school and the apartment complexes where they live. Camp broadens their horizons and perspectives and gives them a good look at the world outside our neighborhood. It also introduces them to the gospel.
Seminars: We offer a variety of seminars each year such as “Stocking a First Aid Kit,” “Over the Counter Medications 101,” and “What is an IRA.” We hope to expand the seminars to include “How to Buy and House,” “How to buy a Car,” and “How to Take Care of Your House,” just to name a few. People coming from other cultures have many very basic questions which can be addressed in this format through a translator.
Jobs: Wednesday nights during the school year we have a volunteer on hand to help you find work. In addition, our parish nurse is also available to help you. We are proud to be an Iowa Workforce Development Career Access Point. Which means we have a jobs computer and can help people build a resume and find work. We help with applications, forms and translations.
Christmas Gifts: Each Christmas, Zion asks the congregation to contribute Christmas gifts fo the children in the STARS Kids program on Wednesday nights. Zion seeks partnerships with local businesses and community members to provide presents for around 600 children.
Christmas Baskets: Each Christmas, Zion strives to increase the number of Christmas baskets we give away to needy families in our area that contain a full Christmas dinner. In order to serve various ethnic communities with different tastes, we also provide gift cards to ethnic markets.
Rent and Utility Assistance: Things get tight sometimes for the people we serve and we try to provide funds to assist with the things necessary for life. Funds are distributed on a first come-first served basis and evaporate quickly.
Global Outreach: Since so many in our community come from other places around the world it is impossible not to develop a global perspective. Consequently, we send people and resources for community development and evangelism to Cambodia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Jordan, India and Myanmar.