More than $90,000 was recently awarded to 20 different Elgin area social service and arts organizations by Elgin's First Congregational Church. Recipients included organizations such as PADS, Youth Leadership Academy, and Habitat for Humanity.
"Each year our church grants an average of $85,000 to organizations that address shelter, hunger, children's initiatives and creating opportunities for growth and development for underserved populations," according to Craig Dresang, chair of the church's mission grants committee. Dresang also said, "Since the fund was established by former congregant George Jehly in 2001, First Congregational has given away more than $1 million to dozens of organizations that have a solid track record. This year, we received 30 requests totaling nearly $250,000."
Because the Great Recession significantly impacted local residents and nonprofit organizations, the church's mission grants committee decided to give preference to programs that have a more local impact. According to Dresang, these included food and shelter for those in financial crisis or homeless, youth programs to combat anti-racism, support and emergency shelter for women and children in crisis, affordable housing creation, and an ex-offender ministry.
The full list of recipients includes: Administer Justice, All People Interfaith Food Pantry, Boys & Girls Club of Elgin, Centro De Informacion, Community Crisis Center, Elgin Choral Union, Elgin Cooperative Ministry, Elgin Youth Symphony, Food for Greater Elgin, Habitat for Humanity, Kairos Family Center, Koinonia House, Larkin Center, Lazarus House Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter, PADS, Renz Center, and Youth Leadership Academy of Elgin.
"Food and shelter for the homeless and those in financial crisis, youth programs to combat anti-racism, emergency shelter and support for women in crisis, creating affordable housing, and an ex-offender ministry." It also included bilingual family parenting classes, tuition for young people to access arts education, family counseling, and pediatric hospice programming.
First Congregational Church, part of the United Church of Christ denomination, is the oldest church in Elgin, founded by James Gifford who originally settled the City of Elgin in 1835. "Our church is a welcoming, inclusive community of believers," according to Dresang. "We fulfill a mission of reconciliation, love, service to the church, community and world."
Organizations seeking more information on the church's grant program can visit the UCC website at www.fcc-elgin.org.