Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many challenges have impacted society, which has required people to adapt and face a new reality. The Greater New York Conference Adventist Community Services (GNYC ACS), in collaboration with local churches, members, leaders, and pastors, has been providing services to the local community as a part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
The Showers of Blessings Ministry is one avenue through which GNYC ACS is providing services to the community. In connection with Bowery Mission and other institutions in New York City, the Showers of Blessings Ministry has provided thousands of showers to homeless recipients. During the city lockdown, Showers of Blessings became one of the few places available to take showers.
Following strict safety protocols and sanitation methods, the ministry continues to provide support and help for the local homeless population daily. During COVID-19, one of the main priorities has been to help prevent the spread of the virus while providing relief for the less privileged. Showers of Blessings Ministry has become a place where hundreds of people come to receive encouragement, comfort for their suffering, and a safe haven in New York City.
Food distribution is another program in which the GNYC ACS has expanded during their pandemic response. With support from various levels of the organization (GNYC, Atlantic Union Conference, and the North American Division), the local churches mobilized 44 food pantries and food center locations. Combined, the programs provide food for more than 40,000 people monthly. It was a huge challenge to implement new programs and also expand the existing ones. The commitment and involvement of church pastors, members, and volunteers who regularly provide services in their local communities are outstanding. While the pandemic is still around, the need is also out there. Still, the resources provided by the local church have created an opportunity to share God’s love through actions.
In collaboration with Northeastern Conference Adventist Community Services and other institutions, the Wellness on the Go Ministry provided COVID-19 tests for hundreds of people during the pandemic in New York. Volunteers from both the Greater New York and Northeastern conferences collaborated to provide free tests when the community needed them most. Different locations and communities benefited from the ministry.
Many volunteers and local church leaders have joined the different programs and developed the Adventist Community Services and Health Ministries initiative. Included is the distribution of masks, personal protective equipment, and medical supplies. Mental health guidance is provided through the Crisis Care Help Line organized by the Northeastern and Greater New York conferences. Thousands of people benefit from the online panels conducted by health professionals through the Health Essentials Series.
In unprecedented times like these, people seek help, support, and hope, and what better way to show it than by serving the community in different ways through Christ’s name. We are reminded that the smallest act of caring and helping others conveys compassion as Christ would have done, and many can see His love in small acts of kindness.
—Luis Biazotto, Adventist Community Services director, Greater New York Conference