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Back Pack Project:  Sharing the Love. . .

The Back Pack Project is a wonderful love story, one that warms the heart.  Well,  you could say that about every FOCUS story!  And, you are a part of the story: your prayers, your generosity, your work as a volunteer, your faith, and your belief that we can do anything in Christ!  Take a few seconds to view this short video about the project!


Let’s Talk Turkey. . .


Tackle Poverty Event donors and All Saints Church (Canonsburg, PA) teamed up with FOCUS+Pittsburgh to make Thanksgiving a memorable feast for 160 Families.  Site Volunteers assembled grocery bags filled with all the fixin’s, organized the distribution process and shared the groceries and turkeys on a very cold and windy day, hearts warmed with the opportunity to help others, the generosity of donors, and the blessings received from the families.

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Touchdown. . .

100_0220Tackling Poverty with the Polamalus

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, over 400 people attended the Tackle Poverty with the Polamalus at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  His Eminence, Metropolitan Savas, graciously presided over this true “fellowship” of Orthodox Christians from all jurisdictions, foundation and corporate donors, FOCUS+Pittsburgh Site Volunteers, Advisory Board members, Ambassadors, and friends. By all accounts, this event exceeded everyone’s “wildest” expectations.  “We’re all responsible for each other and share the burdens of each other,” said His Eminence as he watched the guests arrive. “The cry for help is unavoidable. You can’t help but be aware of the need. It requires immediate and constant attention.”

100_0271The evening began with a VIP Reception, hosted by the Polamalus, followed by a buffet dinner.  The program, enthusiastically emceed by Sally Wiggins (WTAE TV), included prayer by Fr. Chris Bender, remarks by Nicholas Chakos, Executive Director, FOCUS North America; Paul Abernathy, FOCUS+Pittsburgh, Director; Theodora Polamalu, Advisory Board, FOCUS North America; and His Eminence, Metropolitan Savas.  Larry Richert (KDKA AM) wowed the guests as he conducted the live auction of Steeler memorabilia.   Many, many thanks to the volunteers who made this event a success, as well as to our major corporate sponsor Star-Kist.  Way to go Pittsburgh.  For more information on the event and pictures click here.

Pictured below are Kevin Jenkins (Director of Community Initiatives and Senior Program Officer) and Paul Abernathy, FOCUS+Pittsburgh Director; site volunteers and guests; Nick Chakos, FOCUS NA Executive Director and Mark Opacic, FOCUS+Pittsburgh Advisory Board Member.
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Poverty in Pittsburgh. . . .Poverty in Pittsburgh

What you and FOCUS are doing about it!  Screened at Tackle Poverty with the Polamalus on November 21, 2013, this slide show is a picture story about the critical need for FOCUS’ Ministry at its Pittsburgh Center and what the Greater Pittsburgh Orthodox community is doing about it.  It really is about the “U” in FOCUS.  Click on the picture to the left.  It takes a minute or to load.  It will run on its own or you can click on the arrows at the bottom of the screen to advance it forward at your own pace.

More News. . .

unnamedChurches at Work!  St. George Orthodox Church (Bridgeville, PA) Sunday School children and teachers started a program called “FOCUS on Food.”  Canned goods are collected every month for FOCUS’ Emergency Food Bank.  During the month of November, the children collected 365 cans of food.   Church School teachers include: Shadia DelVitto, Tracey Abernathy, Rachel Moses, and Chris Antypas.  What a blessing!!!!!

100_0291During the months of November and December, Holy Trinity (North Hills) GOYANs held another food drive for FOCUS.  Keeping up with these enthusiastic young people isn’t easy, but the rest of us are trying!  St. Mary’s UO Church (McKees Rocks, PA) concluded its November Food Drive for FOCUS with a special Coffee Hour on December 1, 2013.  A mini-raffle of several items raised more money which was used to purchase additional food.  It was wonderful fun!  Meanwhile, across the river, on California Avenue St. John the Baptist, ACROD (Pittsburgh, PA) wound up their December FOCUS Food Drive.  Finally, St. Nicholas Philotochos added to their FOCUS Food Drive efforts, by collecting one food item from everyone who attended The Byzantine Choir’s concert honoring His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos.

Families at Work!  The Family, pictured at right, from Holy Trinity Church (North Hills), decided to celebrate their father’s birthday by making sandwiches for the Clergy Bag Lunch Program.  As a family, they purchased food, assembled bags, and delivered them to FOCUS on Saturday, November 23, 2013.  This project not only helps the homeless and hungry, but is a very good example of how parents can teach children stewardship–looking after what God has put in our care.

Community Partners at Work!  Pictured below:  Duquesne University Pharmacy Students help remodel the second floor of FOCUS soon to house the medical and behavioral free care clinic   Please, a round of applause.

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Thank you. . .

A challenging year has passed.  Embracing and embraced by Christ, His Church, volunteers, friends and the community, we prayed, struggled, learned, grew, persisted, prevailed, and continued to build this ministry.  We could not have done it without you!  We’re humbled by your love and commitment.  We look forward to working with you in 2014.  Keep us in prayer! 


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