On Sunday, January 15, 2014, His Grace, Bishop Thomas, presided at a blessing service for FOCUS Pittsburgh’s free health care clinic offering medical assistance and behavioral support to those who have no health care options. The clinic will begin patient care in early May at its FOCUS Pittsburgh Centre Avenue location. In his remarks, Bishop Thomas emphasized the importance of FOCUS’ urban ministry and the significance of this milestone to Orthodox ministry in Western Pennsylvania. The opening of the clinic is the culmination of a vision shared by a dedicated FOCUS Medical team who have worked for the past three years on the project. His Grace also prayed for Carmen Williams and Katherine Miller, two Catechumens, who will be received into the Orthodox Church. Carmen Williams and Katherine Miller will be Chrismated on Lazarus Saturday, April 12, 2014, at St. George’s Church, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania . Volunteers and graduates of the Professional Development Academy, Carmen and Katherine are dedicated to FOCUS and it’s mission and ministry in Pittsburgh. Pictured below are: Carmen Williams (L) and Tracy Abernathy and Katherine “Angel” Miller (R).
Churches and Community at Work. . .
Holy Cross Philoptochos (Mt. Lebanon) is conducting a Lenten FOCUS Food Drive: March 9, 16, 25, 30 and April 6. This is a total parish effort. In the appeal, Philoptochos President, Elaine Sofis, highlighted the impact of the recent cuts in food stamps that increased the need for additional food sources to fight food insecurity. Mike Kriotitis, FOCUS Ambassador at Holy Trinity GOC reported that Holy Trinity and St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (both located in Pittsburgh’s North Hills suburbs) combined their efforts in an Outreach Project for FOCUS Pittsburgh’s bag lunch program (sponsored by the Clergy Brotherhood) on January 4, 2014.
A few years ago, I saw an announcement for a fundraiser at the Holy Cross church in Mt. Lebanon. It was for a new Orthodox mission center that was to be in the poorest part of Pittsburgh. The name of the organization was FOCUS. I was intrigued enough to call and make a reservation for the fundraising dinner. My priest, Father Emmanuel and his wife Anna, were also attending. I sat with Fr. Emmanuel and his wife that evening and watched as Theodora and Troy Polamalu showed their dedication to the new FOCUS center. Sometime that evening, Father Emmanuel told me I was to be the FOCUS representative for our church! I laughed and said “Sure!”. Later that year, I planned a furniture drive at my church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church in Ambridge. When the day of the drive arrived, I had a list for Paul and his helpers of where to go and what time people were expecting them. I was worried they would not garner enough donations to make the trip to Ambridge worth their time. Little did I know but our parishioners were to be very generous that day. When the truck returned it was full To The Brim with furniture and other donations. I was stunned but overjoyed. When I mentioned my gratitude to Paul he said of his assistants- “And they are witness to it.”
I asked Paul if I could assist FOCUS Pittsburgh in its early growth stages, during which time a faithful committee and I hosted a fundraiser at Bella Sera. It was a wonderful experience to see the great turnout and such support for FOCUS Pittsburgh. I love everything that FOCUS is and stands for but I have to confess what I love most about FOCUS is PAUL. I am sure my sentiments are echoed by others as well, but I cannot describe to you how I feel when I am in his midst. He is uplifting, devoted, God and Christ centered and never wavering. His love for others is never tiring- he seems to have endless energy when it comes to FOCUS. May God grant all the people associated with the FOCUS Pittsburgh center HIS great love and abundance. And to Paul, I wish him continued boundless energies for his devotion of making life better for many deserving people. By Joanne Jamis Cain
25/100 Campaign. . .
Thanks to your participation and support, Tackle Poverty with the Polamalus, held on Thursday, November 21, 2013, was an overwhelming success. It demonstrated your commitment to FOCUS+Pittsburgh’s vital work. It also underscored how the Orthodox Community, working together, makes a real difference in ending poverty in Allegheny County and the Western Pennsylvania region.
What your donations accomplish!
Your donations provide: training for the unemployed, job search assistance and support, food through the backpack program for over 300 children each week, clothing, transportation, documents, and emergency food supplies for at risk families, seniors, and the homeless. They also provide the infrastructure that sustains drug and alcohol abuse programs, medical and behavioral health initiatives, orthodox discussion groups/services, and fellowship.
How you can help!
At the event, many of you expressed a desire to make a monthly contribution to FOCUS through the 25/100 Campaign – 100 people donating $25.00/month. By becoming a FOCUS’ 25/100 Contributor, you will receive a FOCUS Bumper Sticker, an invitation to a special bi-annual prayer breakfast/luncheon and briefing for 25/100 contributors, a special blessing and certificate, and our grateful appreciation for your generosity. You can become a 25/100 Contributor by calling Larissa Hatch at 412-279-1720 or 1-866-267-3803. We look forward to hearing from you as we approach the Feast of Feasts.