Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You from Jan Richardson

Image: Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. RichardsonSpread the word about this (lesser known) feast and Jan Richardson’s gift:

Quote . . .Happy New Year and Merry (almost) Epiphany! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need a space of respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to listen to your life. Read Jan’s whole post (and download the retreat) here: Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You « The Painted Prayerbook.

Twelfth Day of Christmas: You


The need is great. The opportunities to make a difference are just as great. Let the words of St. Ignatius guide your efforts in 2012: “Pray as if everything depends upon God and act as if everything depends upon you.”

January 6th is the Epiphany. The love of God, enfleshed in Jesus, is manifested to the whole world. It is our calling to continue to reveal Jesus, the Christ, to the whole world in the place we are and in the time we have.

With the Feast of Epiphany this calendar will be renamed “Opportunity Calendar” because it will present you and other viewers with the opportunity to make a difference in the life of one person or one family or one village. Choose to become involved.

 Pray. Your prayers lifted to God to comfort those in need and strengthen those sent to meet the needs are more powerful than you can imagine. Believe it; I do.

Pray and study. Increase your awareness of need and response as you pray and study. Read and listen and watch, taking it all to our God in prayer. The encounter will change you. I know.

Study and share. Raise the awareness of others by sharing information, especially stories. Write letters to your elected representatives. Become the voice of the voiceless.

Share time, talent, and treasure. Volunteer your time and love by serving others (it is the model given us by Christ). Make donations (even small donations help) to an organization that is making a difference.

Remember a promise made to you by Jesus, revealed as “Emmanuel” in this time of Christmas and Epiphany: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ~dan

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In our Baptismal Covenant we promise God and each other to act as if everything depended on us:

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

I will with God’s help.

 Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

I will with God’s help.

Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?

I will with God’s help.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

I will with God’s help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I will with God’s help.

The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 304-305

Eleventh Day of Christmas: F.I.N.D.

F.I.N.D. Food In Need of Distribution

Years before my arrival at St. Margaret’s (1993) the parish had forged a relationship with FIND and was distributing food once a week. Over the years the need for this source of food has grown, and so has the response. I am proud of the work being done by FIND in the Coachella Valley and by the parish volunteers who distribute food every Tuesday morning. Here is a way our parish has partnered with a community resource to “change the world.”  ~dan

Quote . . .FIND (Food in Need of Distribution) Food bank, is dedicated to mobilizing the resources of our community through education and awareness to relieve hunger, the causes of hunger and the problems associated with hunger.

Our Vision

To create, a community where our citizens are free of hunger insecurity.  By educating our clients about alternative healthy food choices and informing them of various programs available to them to alleviate the upward spiral of demand.  We envision our food insecure clients obtaining nourishing food through channels that are not solely dependent on private sources; where our clients can learn to become self-sufficient while mindful of healthy choices. (“Mission and Vision” on the FIND website)

FIND Home Page

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who We Are

Q What is FIND (Food In Need of Distribution) Food Bank?

A. FIND is the Coachella Valley’s only Food Bank and it is our responsibility to ensure there is sufficient food to feed the hungry.

Q. How does FIND get the food?

A. We get our food from four sources.

    1. Large and Small (food drives) food donations from entities such as General Mills, Nabisco, Kraft, Cargill and many more.
    2. We are the USDA distributor for the Eastern Riverside County.
    3. We have 5 trucks operating each day going from different local grocery stores and products that are either close to expiration, damaged containers or just overstocked product.
    4. We purchase large quantity of product at wholesale prices to meet the needs of our agencies and operational programs such as Desert Kids Summer Feeding and Seniors Brown Bag.

Q. How is the food distributed?

A. Food is distributed through either our partnering agencies or directly through our emergency food programs.

Q. What geographical area does FIND serve?

A. Find serves the Eastern Riverside County along with parts of the high desert.

Q How many people does FIND help feed?

A. We are currently reaching on average 80,000 individuals monthly.

Q. How does FIND address food safety and nutrition?

A. We operate our warehouse under the strictest guidelines for food safety and are continuously working to obtain higher nutritional value type foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Programs and Support

Q. What is FIND doing to help people support themselves?

A. We are reaching out to the people we serve through our partnering agencies and helping them find alternative sources of aid, such as Food Stamps, WIC and general case management services.

Q. How successful is FIND is its fight against hunger?

A. FIND is working aggressively each and every day to end hunger in the Coachella Valley. Once we have a full commitment from our community we will be able to state, “We are a hunger free zone”.

How You Can Help

Q. How much of my donation will be used for acquisition of food?

A. For every dollar we are able serve 7 meals. This is because 98% or 86% of your donation goes to food acquisition.

Q. How many people will I feed with my donation?

A. $1 = 7 meals
$10 = 70 meals
$100 = 700 meals

Q. Why should I support FIND?

A. FIND Food Bank is the main provider of food to those who find themselves food insecure. This could mean a child, a senior, a family or a homeless individual.

Hunger does not Discriminate.
Hunger knows no age limits.
Hunger knows no boundaries.
Serving Hungry Families in The Coachella Valley Since 1983.

Join us in our pledge to fight hunger in the Coachella Valley.

Q. How can I become a partner?

A. Either browse our web site and find the many ways you can make a difference through a donation that fits your needs or call us 760-775-FOOD (3663)

Q. Can I make recurring partner donations?

A. Yes, by donating on a recurring basis allows us to implement programs to better serve those in need.

Q Are volunteers needed?

A. Volunteers are the back bone to our success, we are always looking for opportunities to work with individuals or groups. Call or go to our web site for further details.

From the FIND website 3 January 2012

Tenth Day of Christmas: Heifer International

Heifer International

Heifer International works near and far to end hunger and poverty.  ~dan

Quote . . .To End Hunger & Poverty

Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.

By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.

With gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace. (“Our Work” on the Heifer International website)

Heifer International Home Page

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USA – Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia

Project Profile:

Building Healthy Community Food Systems in Arkansas and Appalachia will help to organize and provide resources and support for local communities to fight hunger, poverty and environmental degradation. The project will specifically target high-need populations in two regions: Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis and Woodruff counties in the Arkansas Delta and Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes counties in North Carolina, and Johnson County, Tennessee in the high-country of Appalachia

Heifer USA will be facilitating and building the capacity for collaboration among key partners. With partners, this project will work within the value chain to create and support the establishment and sustainability of community food enterprises linking small and medium-scale farmers to diverse markets. Limited resource families will have increased access to, and the ability to influence the quality and availability of, local, healthy food within their own communities. Education and awareness-raising as well as public policy work are also key strategies as part of realizing long-term, systemic change. Please read more about this new initiative

Check out the The Heifer Blog for more stories, inspiration, and encouragement.

Ninth Day of Christmas: Mission to Seafarers

Mission to Seafarers

Some of you may remember Fr. Bob Crafts as the Rector of St. John’s in Indio. When he retired he moved back to San Diego and began a new ministry as a Chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers. As a diocese we support Fr. Crafts in prayer and practice as he provides ministry to those who sail the seas.    ~dan

Quote . . .Piracy, shipwreck, abandonment and separation from loved ones are just a few of the problems merchant seafarers face. Around the world, The Mission to Seafarers provides help and support to the 1.2 million men and women who face danger every day to keep our global economy afloat.

As a Christian agency, we work in 250 ports caring for seafarers of all ranks, nationalities and beliefs. Through our global network of chaplains, staff and volunteers we offer practical, emotional and spiritual support to seafarers through ship visits, drop-in centres and a range of welfare and emergency support services. (“About Us” on the Mission to Seafarers website)

Mission to Seafarers What We Do | Mission to Seafarers Home Page

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Did you know:

  • 90% of world trade is carried by the sea, providing work to more than a million seafarers.
  • 30 million people make a living by fishing.
  • The rate of suicide for international seafarers is triple that of shore workers, and they are 26 times more likely to be killed at work.
  • Shipping is a truly international industry: in today’s global market you might have a Greek-owned vessel, registered in Malta, with officers from India and a mixed crew from Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and the Philippines.
  • Piracy hit an all-time high in the first six months of 2011, with 266 attacks worldwide, up from 196 a year earlier, according to statistics from the International Maritime Bureau. Of the 266 attacks, 60% were carried out by Somalia-based pirates.
  • Seafarers are among the most exploited and abused groups of workers in the world, yet their plight is barely recognised by the mainstream media and public opinion, says the ITF report, ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.

Source: Facts and Figures on the Mission to Seafarers website

Do you remember:

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:34-36   

Eighth Day of Christmas: Bread for the World

Bread for the World

Over the years Bread for the World has been one of my “go to” organizations. At home and around the world Bread for the World, in action, reminds me that at Baptism the community interceded for us so that we would receive grace in order to have “the courage to will and to persevere.” Challenged to feed the world, members of Bread for the World will themselves to action and persevere in their advocacy. I agree with their heartfelt conviction: “God is up to something and is calling us to share in this new creation.” It is humbling to be part of this effort.   ~dan

Quote . . .Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

God’s grace in Jesus Christ moves us to help our neighbors, whether they live in the next house, the next state, or the next continent.

Confronting the problem of hunger can seem overwhelming.

What can one person do? Plenty.

Bread for the World members write personal letters and emails and meet with our members of Congress.

Working through our churches, campuses, and other organizations, we engage more people in advocacy.

Each year, Bread for the World invites churches across the country to take up a nationwide Offering of Letters to Congress on an issue that is important to hungry and poor people. (“What we do” on the Bread for the World website)

Bread for the World What we do | Bread for the World Home Page

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About hunger

In 2005, the latest year for which data are available, 1.4 billion people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty—on less than $1.25 a day—down from 1.9 billion in 1981.

In the United States, 14.6 percent of households struggle to put food on the table. Nearly one in four children is at risk of hunger.

We can end hunger in our time. Everyone, including government, must do their part.

By making our voices heard in Congress, we make our laws more fair and compassionate to people in need.

Source: About hunger on the Bread for the World website

Seventh Day of Christmas: EWC and AWE and girls’ rights

Episcopal Women’s Caucus (EWC) and
Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE)

For centuries Mary, the Mother of God, has been remembered, celebrated, and adored. In art and music, prayers and meditations, Mary has become the model of faith. Within the glow of Christmas let us pause and recall that Mary’s journey began as an unwed, pregnant, teenager. Her story could easily have ended in destitution, estrangement, abuse, violence, and desperation. Her child, if born at all, would likely have died in infancy; Mary herself may have died in childbirth. Not the Christmas picture we want to contemplate.

Our scripture tells us, and we have come to trust its testimony, that Mary was delivered from this grim future by God’s grace, mediated by God’s angels, including Joseph and Elizabeth. How many young girls today, some of them pregnant and unwed, could use an angel (like you perhaps) to initiate a different, a better, future?

Within the Episcopal Church members (both male and female) of EWC and AWE find inspiration and direction for their work in the story of Mary, in the teaching and ministry of her son, Jesus, and in the grace of the Holy Spirit within community. Today, God’s angels look a lot like you and me.   ~dan rondeau

Quote . . .The Episcopal Women’s Caucus (EWC) is a justice organization dedicated to Gospel values of equality and liberation and committed to the incarnation of God’s unconditional love. (EWC Mission Statement)

Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE) is a membership movement of Episcopal/Anglican women and girls with a broad diversity of backgrounds, interests and skills.We work for gender equity and social justice around the world. (AWE Mission Statement)

About EWC | Home Page

About AWE | History

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Working Group on Girls Empowering the Women of Tomorrow!

by Beth Adamson

AWE has consistently held a seat at the Working Group on Girls. Board member Beth Adamson, is co-convener of WGG.

Put yourself in the shoes of Linea, a young girl whose mother has HIV/ AIDS, a disease she contracted from your father before it took his life. Because you are the oldest daughter, you are the person expected to care for your two older brothers (when they show up) and your three younger siblings. National laws have given no property rights to women, so you live day to day in fear that your father’s family will take your house and your goat, the only source of income. You have never been to school because even when your parents were well, you took the long walk to the river to procure fresh water and wash clothes for the family. You are not even registered in a national registry.

These are the issues that face girls across the globe, and the purview of the Working Group on Girls, a coalition of over 80 NGO’s who are deeply interested in the fate of the girl child. Like AWE, which has a seat at the table, these NGO’s are aware that the empowered girls of today are the empowered women of tomorrow – but it takes vigilance to bring this empowerment to life.

Thus, WGG is committed to assuring that policies are in place via the legislative bodies and working entities of the United Nations. We follow each session of the General Assembly as well as several commissions from the Status of Women to Social Development to A World Fit for Children. Whenever possible, we provide Parallel Events sponsored by 2 or more of our member organizations and develop Fact Sheets on girl-specific topics such as: the Right to Health, Protection from Trafficking, or the Right to Education. WGG sponsors a strong Advocacy Committee that makes a point to visit Missions of member states of the Commission on the Status of Women, providing specific talking points on the Priority & Review Themes of the CSW.

Beyond that, the WGG is privileged to have 80+ NGO’s that are “on the ground” in many countries around the globe, giving an opportunity to support governments and civil society in enacting the UN policies on site. A Missionary in Malawi might use guidelines on Education for Girls to support her cause on creating a private restroom for girls, thus allowing a better chance that they can attend schools. Or an international representative in Brazil can use Fact Sheets from the WGG web-site to advocate on behalf of young women and girls who are the victims of human trafficking.

But the Working Group on Girls also makes every effort to work alongside girls by providing opportunities for girls (age 14 and above) to be involved as delegates in events at the UN that pertain to them. Girl Advocates are involved in our general meetings and as well as Mission Visits. We rely on our coalition of NGO’s to bring girls to Commissions

For instance, AWE’s own Caroline Christie, granddaughter of Marge, was a Girl Delegate in 2007 and 2011, has been on various mission visits, and was the presenter of the Girls Statement to CSW 55 in March, 2011. She continues to serve as an active WGG Girl Advocate.Please view our website www.girlsrights.org and look at our quarterly Newsletter “Action for Girls”!

Source: AWE Journal Nov 2011

MORE? Read the story of Lungowe Mufungulwa a young girl from Zambia who was a girl delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women meeting in 2011

Acronyms and links for more information

AWE – Anglican Women’s Empowerment

CSW – United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

EWC – Episcopal Women’s Caucus

NGO – Non Governmental Organization. NGO Global Network: “This site is the home page for our global NGO community (Non-governmental organizations associated with the United Nations). Its aim is to help promote collaborations between NGOs throughout the world, so that together we can more effectively partner with the United Nations and each other to create a more peaceful, just, equitable and sustainable world for this and future generations.”

WGGWorking Group on Girls an NGO Committee working at the United Nations

Sixth Day of Christmas: VFW National Home For Children

VFW National Home For Children

Until this week I had never heard of this National Home. What an amazing resource for all our veterans and their families. ~dan rondeau

About the VFW National Home For Children

The VFW National Home for Children serves as a living memorial to America’s veterans by helping our nation’s veteran and military families.

 Since its founding in 1925, the VFW National Home for Children has grown from an old frame farm house to a sprawling campus with playgrounds, park areas, and multiple buildings, including single-family homes, a community center and gymnasium, child care center, guest lodge, chapel and administrative offices.

The National Home’s services have also evolved to meet the changing needs of America’s military and veterans’ families. Through our Helpline and our on-campus programs, we are able to help families and children through times of crisis, both here on our beautiful campus and in their own communities nationwide.

About Us: VFW National Home For Children

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In their own words – a short (8 min) overview 

National Home Helpline
800-313-4200 |

The National Home Helpline is the gateway to help for military and veterans’ families. Whether you need help connecting with supportive services and resources in your own community or you are seeking a referral to one of our on-campus programs, you can take comfort in knowing that your call will be answered by a caring professional who understands the unique challenges faced by today’s military and veterans’ families.

The VFW National Home for Children has more than 85 years of experience helping military and veterans’ families by providing counsel, support and connections with resources nationwide. The National Home Helpline is staffed by a dedicated team of caring, listening professionals who work directly with callers to help them find solutions to their pressing issues and concerns. Our resources go beyond community connections and traditional supportive services to include VFW Posts, Departments and Veterans Service Officers across the country.

The Helpline is answered Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Source: How we help on the VFW National Home For Children website

Logo: VFW National Home For Children

Fifth Day of Christmas: Feed My Starving Children

Feed My Starving Children

In the first week of Christmas I have highlighted organizations helping children. In my research I found Feed My Starving Children. I am impressed with their efforts. Though no one I know has used this organization, it has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator (highlighted in the Advent Calendar on Day 21. The Feed My Starving Children MobilePack events seem to be a wonderful opportunity for community building and for changing the world. ~dan rondeau

Who we are

Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and we ship the meals to nearly 70 countries around the world.

Feed My Starving Children Home Page

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A community event that feeds people across the world

Feed My Starving Children MobilePackTM events allow people across the United States to pack life-giving meals. In 2010, more than 150,000 MobilePack volunteers packed over 32 million meals. In 2011, our MobilePack events are set to produce more than 34.5 million meals.

Logo: Feed My Starving Children website

Fourth Day of Christmas: Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center

Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center

By now you may have picked up a theme in this week after Christmas: children. With the joyful images and music of Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Christ child; now seems a good time to shine that Christ-light on the needs of children here and around the world.

Today (12/28) the Church commemorates the Feast of the Holy Innocents. We tell the story of the violent death of children in 1st century Palestine at the command of a tyrant, see Matthew 2:13-18. Sadly, centuries later, children in our own Coachella Valley still need to seek safety and healing from violence and abuse despite our efforts to live the kind of love that Jesus lived. The staff and volunteers (some of them members of St Margaret’s) are at the Barbara Sinatra Center to bring healing and hope to these children.  ~dan rondeau

The Children Come First

Founded in 1986 by Barbara and Frank Sinatra, the nonprofit Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower provides counseling for victims of physical, sexual and emotional child abuse.

Our mission is to break the generational cycle of abuse by focusing on prevention and education.

Approximately 90% of our budget comes from the generosity of a caring, worldwide community, fundraising events and charitable organizations. This heartfelt support ensures that children are counseled regardless of a family’s inability to pay.

Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Home Page

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Dick Van Dyke narrates a short (11 min) video about the Center

Logo: Barbara Sinatra Children's Center
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