The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on everyone emotionally, physically and financially. Community members of Faith Church of Allentown pulled together to donate $37,000 worth of food gift cards for Raub Middle School families to alleviate some of the pressure this winter.
“When COVID-19 hit the Lehigh Valley, our church family was moved to love our neighbors in tangible ways. The opportunity to partner with Raub Middle School provided ways for our family to show love in a variety of practical ways that allowed everyone to get involved,” said in a statement received on behalf of Faith Church.
Raub Middle School is a Community School located in Allentown. In partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network, United Way Community Schools level the playing field for students, families and schools in under-resourced areas.
“Our community school efforts at Raub Middle School continue to expand and thrive every year,” said Jaclyn Hudak, Community School Coordinator for Raub Middle School, supported by St. Luke’s Hospital. “As we were all hit with these unprecedented times, the work that we do has been tremendously supportive for our students and families now more than ever. Even through this health crisis, our 5th year as a Community School continues strong and we are eager to collaborate with our partners to support our local neighborhoods and youth together,” she added.
Faith Church connected with Raub’s mission and offered to adopt the school through the pandemic. “We have spawned an organic relationship that has helped lift a community deeply in need of support, care and kind hearts,” shared Jose Delgado, Principal at Raub Middle School. “One can only imagine how grateful and surprised we have been to watch this new partnership with Faith Church cultivate into something beyond measure that is directly serving the needs of our families,” added Izzy Vasquez, After School Coordinator at Raub Middle School, and another community school staff member employed by St. Luke’s Hospital.
For the Thanksgiving holiday, about 130 families picked up turkeys and food boxes donated by the church at Raub's first drive-by Thanksgiving Fall Harvest event. “When we hear from families, ‘because of you, we eat great tonight,’ we are reminded of the good work that we do as a community of partners and WHY we are here to serve,” said Izzy.
The partnership also provided approximately $250,000 worth of renovations to the school which included construction, painting and landscaping. “Faith Church has helped us physically transform our building so that students feel safe and nurtured,” said Principal Delgado. “The church has helped us develop a culture and climate where everyone feels loved and cared for,” he added.
“Adapting to this new ‘norm,’ we continue our groundwork in the field and community to further support our families in highest need,” Jacki said. “On behalf of Raub Middle School, THANK YOU for all your hard work and continued dedication to our school and families.”
“This is a great example of the power of the community school model: needed services co-located at the school to better support students and families and engaging the larger community to rally in support of struggling families and schools,” said Beth Tomlinson, Senior Director of Education, UWGLV. “We talk about the African proverb, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ which is so true; and at heart, every community school is trying to build that supportive village for every child, family and school who needs it.”