Community Wins Big at Upcoming Block Party
By Dianne Anderson
Don’t be fooled by all the free groceries, a chance to win a 50 inch TV, or a free refrigerator at the upcoming kid-friendly community Block Party of 2018.
With Pastors United as host, the big ticket offerings are so much more than what meets the eye.
It’s the first event participation for Pastor Ernest Dowdy, and he said the collective of pastors are serious about getting resources to the community to feed both body and soul. The quarterly event brings vital services to meet the growing needs, some of which are not so obvious.
“We’re concerned about civic responsibilities, and the violence and what’s causing that, to help the hopeless, to encourage them, and [to let them know] there’s a church available in all the communities to help guide them,” he said.
Under the theme, “Healing, Change, and Progress,” the event is giving away shoes, free clothes, and free health checkups, along with a long list of nonprofit vendors on site. Their Westside event held at Ann Shirrells Park brought out 1,700 for services. They hope for more this time around.
Dowdy says past huge turnout shows the level of need, and it is also an opportunity to provide direction for local job seekers that do not know where to turn for supportive programming since SBETA, the jobs resource program that he headed, was eliminated.
“Certainly we know without a doubt that the need has increased. People haven’t really found their way into other opportunities to keep them in a state of wholeness,” he said.
As the nation soars toward higher-tech employment fields, even in lower skilled jobs, he feels the church is needed to help bridge a growing skills gap within the low-income community.
“We have to catch our students with SAT preparation,” Dowdy said. “The churches are going to have to catch some students that have the ability and the IQ, but they don’t know the [way].”
On Saturday, April 28, the community block party will be held at Pacific Highland Elementary School, not far from his church, which is also participating. On-site, a host of volunteers will come out, along with assorted nonprofits to guide the community toward services. The event will be held at 3340 Pacific Street in Highland from 2:00-5:00 p.m. with music, face painting, and a kids jumper.
Dowdy’s church volunteers will be on site to provide information on employment services, county, and federal job opportunities. From the pastors perspective, the main mission is the event offers encouragement to the distressed community. The spiritual side is the important side.
“You’re never hopeless because God is there to lift you up, and that there are a number of resources available to you with no strings,” he said.
On the team, many pastors are participating from San Bernardino and Highland area.
Pastor Reginal Young of Out of the Pulpit Ministries is involved with the crisis response for the event. He said the primary goal is to let the youth and young students know that the pastors are concerned for them, particularly in light of all the gun violence in school settings.
It’s unnerving for adults, and so much harder on the kids.
“We want to let our children know that we are taking necessary steps to bring to our legislators as well as our city officials that we need to step up our gun violence controls,” he said.
Over 20 pastors are involved and on the committee, but he said that they are still accepting volunteer and helping hands from those that want to donate time, or nonperishable foods. They can also visit the website to volunteer to help with future block parties and administrative office to follow up with families.
“Year-round, we are trying to collect resources for our pantries so that we have future resources to give out,” he said.
He said the big gifts are to help draw the community out to receive groceries and feed them while they’re there. On-site job trainers and a mobile health vendor for health check will take care of their physical needs.
“But also to provide spiritual food as well, with Pastor Dowdy brings the Word. We’re trying to bring about change by creating platforms for stopping gun violence and creating programs for young people. We’ll have recreation as well as jobs and economic opportunities,” he said.
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