The Interfaith Council: Local Congregations Unite for the Greater Good
Ten religious congregations in Manchester, Dorset, East Arlington, Pawlet and Rupert now comprise the Interfaith Council (IFC) of the Northshire to address the needs of the region. IFC originated Neighbor to Neighbor, whose volunteers provide assistance in driving, home visits and more for people who are alone.
The Community Food Cupboard in the Manchester Town Hall was created in 1989 when a task force made up of congregation members who identified that need as a priority. It is staffed by members of the six original IFC congregations, two days a week, with each handling two months of the year. IFC’s Emergency Needs Fund during the past year responded to 70 calls for assistance.
Money, provided to pay for housing, car repairs, food cards, electricity, living expenses, gas cards, medical and dental expenses, household fuel, telephone bills, home repairs and insurance, totaled more than $22,000. Another IFC program is Auto Angels, which receives donated used cars (and sometimes buys them), makes the necessary repairs, and passes them on to people in need of self-transportation. The group also has a storage locker where it shelters donated household furnishings that can be given to people who need specific items, typically beds, dressers or appliances.
Karen Allen, who directs Kids Summer Lunch each year, recently updated the IFC Board on its current projects, which included providing backpacks with weekend meals to Mettawee School children this past semester and anticipating that service in the upcoming academic year. Congregation members and local businesses now have available the gold bags (yours for the taking) to make your contribution toward funding the 2017 Summer Lunch program, which benefits children in Manchester schools coming from multiple towns, in Danby and at the Mettawee Community School – some 200 kids in all, at $15 a child per week for the ten weeks that school is not in session – where they can receive government-funded breakfast and lunch.
A committee for the Interfaith Council is currently working on plans for events that will focus on the needs of immigrants in our area of Vermont, and exploring how local communities can help. These programs will be announced in upcoming months.
The Interfaith Council is comprised of Christ Our Savior Roman Catholic parish, First Baptist Church, First Congregational Church, Israel Congregation and Zion Episcopal of Manchester; the Congregational Church of Dorset and East Rupert; the Federated Church of East Arlington; the Pawlet Community Church; and Rupert’s Congregational and Methodist Churches. The Reverend James Gray, pastor of the Dorset church, is chairman of the Interfaith Council, which is a tax-exempt corporation.