Stephanie Lee, The Journey Church Buffalo
Pastor Art Hall of The Journey Church Buffalo in Buffalo, NY, saw a void in services for senior citizens and set forth to fill that void. In mid-March, 2020 a pandemic commonly known as covid-19 or coronavirus, a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person, caused a great deal of panic in the community and worldwide. People were becoming very ill or worse during the height of this virus. Many were caught off guard and lives abruptly changed.
In order to slow down the covid-19 spread, people were told to stay in place and only leave their homes for essential items or in extreme emergencies. To further deter the public and enforce this action, many restaurants and stores closed or were placed on limited hours of operation. Since dining out was no longer an option, the demand for grocery store items increased. This caused many households to compete for essential items and buy in bulk to avoid several trips to the grocery store, decreasing the chance of becoming infected. It also became more difficult for seniors to obtain essential items. The seniors that had personal transportation were at lower risk than those who traveled on public transportation, with higher exposure to the virus, but they still were faced with the same dilemma: little to no grocery essentials once they reached the market. The big chain stores realized the seniors were not getting their essential items and offered “Senior Citizen” hours. This alleviated some of the problems, but it did not help the seniors that had difficulty commuting due to health-related issues, lack of a strong support system or those who had to rely on undependable delivery services.
It became apparent to Pastor Hall that this population of people, senior citizens, were in dire need of assistance. Pastor Hall and his wife, Rashika, felt compelled to help the elderly and make certain the seniors received essential items without worrying about covid-19. They quickly started the Grocery to Seniors Program and recruited volunteers, partnered with more than 30 organizations, churches, community centers, businesses, corporations, and foundations. The Groceries to Seniors Program raised nearly $40,000 with the projection to serve 200 senior households.
The Halls had hot meals prepared and provided by Manna @ Northland and were able to purchase, pack, and deliver essential groceries along with hot meals to 50-60 seniors a week throughout Buffalo, Erie, and Niagara counties from March to mid August 2020. Their ages ranged from 60-104 years old! The meals and groceries were delivered and follow-up calls were made with prayers to all. The seniors were extremely grateful.
Pastor Hall and First Lady Rashika Hall filled a void to assist seniors in the community. Within a six-month period, they, along with a host of volunteers and sponsors, have been able to serve nearly 700 senior households.
The Journey Church Buffalo is devoted to assist those in need in the community and committed to the call to evangelize non-believers while empowering believers of all cultures to learn their Purpose in Christ, Prepare to live for Christ, so that they may walk in Power with Christ.