Hope's Home Newsletter
June 7, 2021
Hope's Home is an Outreach Initiative
of First United Methodist Church
Photo: Ronnie Barbett (Volunteer), Tyler Schueffner & Willie Watkins (Briarpatch) meeting with Karen Andro at the Food Pantry stocked to serve individuals experiencing homelessness (5/17/2021 K Andro)
Serving During the Pandemic
Karen Andro, Director of Hope's Home Ministries
When our building closed to the public in response to the pandemic March of 2020, we began serving differently. This month, we are are not offering the monthly on-site food pantry session. This change is in response to the few households being served (low need) in part with neighboring duplication of services and increased FoodShare benefits.

Our Community Breakfast and Connections to Care will begin back at the church Wednesday, June 9 with modified services. Check out article herein for details.

Throughout the pandemic, the need of food and groceries for individuals experiencing homelessness has not only continued, but it has increased. During May, we provided 356 emergency food bags, 301 sandwiches, and 220 personal essential bags (hygiene supplies). We are building on this mode of service, and exploring new ways of reaching the high need to help individuals off-site.

Volunteers have been integral in serving in new and different ways with Hope's Home outreach such as preparing sandwiches and meals in their own homes as well as baking mini-loaves of sweet and savory breads, a treat currently headed up by our Loaves of Love team. Families have engaged in decorating Blessing Bags decorated with positive messages and fun drawings filled with personal essentials and treats.

This summer, we will be researching on how we may build upon mobile operations including Mobile Meals. It is an exciting time to serve riding the wave of change. We are dedicated to meeting these and serving in new ways!

This month, we welcome Lucero Torres, intern from the Boys & Girls Club. This new partnership with Hope's Home Ministries outreach is a wonderful way to expand how we work. Special thanks to Rich & Carol Oliver, Rev. Milton & Emily Ford and Racial Equity & Social Justice team for making it possible. Lucero will be helping with our food pantry and outreach.

I hope you find our new Hope's Home eNewsletter informative and uplifting!
May 2021
Service Numbers
Food Pantry Saturday, May 19
12 households served

Homeless Outreach
Emergency Food Bags: 356
Fresh Sandwiches: 301
Total Meals: 1,379
Cleanup Bags: 220


Volunteer Opps

Community Breakfast

Delivery Unloading
Varies Weekdays
"Helping is my way of giving back."--Brian Johnson
Top 10 Items Needed
Personal Care Items
  1. Toilet Paper
  2. Toothpaste
  3. Deodorant
  4. Hand Wipes
  5. Mosquito Repellant

Single Serve Items
  1. Protein Bars
  2. Pop-Top Meals
  3. Ensure
  4. Beef Sticks
  5. Tuna/Chicken Pouches
Welcome Back Community Breakfast
& Connections to Care

Wednesday, June 9 (9 to 10 a.m.)

A healthy, hearty breakfast will be prepared in our Loaves and Fishes Kitchen, and packaged in single-serve containers to be served from our main entrance. Breakfast will be enjoyed outside the building in our parking lot and patio area, or taken to-go. We continue to follow the highest level of safety practices following food safety and Dane County Public Health guidelines.

Connections to Care will take place outside at tables staffed by outreach workers who help with housing, health care, mental health wellness, FoodShare benefits, and referrals to vital services and resources for individuals experiencing loss of home, and anyone who may be in need of help with basic needs.
Hope's Home Ministries
Advisory Council

Rev. Ran Yoo, Staff
Karen Andro, Staff
Margot Fischer, Chair
Abby DeLong
Mike Kutchin
Michelle Ogilvie
Betsy Starling
O'uma Toon
Rev. Dr. Mel Vance
Max Varner

We continue to lead with diverse voices and experiences guiding our good work to help end hunger and build meaningful relationships serving in ministry. We are blessed by Rev. Ran Yoo joining our leadership team in July.
Check out online introduction:

Photo: O'uma Toon Greeting during our Community Breakfast (bottom left) with Anne Scott.
Back row: Christa Minehart, Felicity & Thaddeus Arrington (Anne's grandkids).11/27/2019 K Andro
O'uma Means 'Grandma' in Afrikaans
By Bill Novak

“O’uma” means “Grandma” in Afrikaans, a language of South Africa. For volunteers and the needy at Hope’s Home, O’uma means having grandma O’uma Toon talking, laughing and bringing up the spirits of those at the weekly breakfasts. The almost octogenarian was christened Frances, but when she became a grandmother over 30 years ago, she wanted a special name. “At first I wanted to be ‘Big Mama,’ but my grandson gave me a book of grandma names from other countries, so I took the name O’uma,” she said. “Everybody calls me that.”

O’uma has been a church member at First United Methodist Church for over 15 years and joined the Hope’s Home Advisory Council last year. “They are a good group of people,” she said. “They believe in what they are doing, have the people at heart and serve the community.”

O’uma grew up in Virginia and raised her family, but she said she couldn’t rely on her husband (since divorced). “He wasn’t a caregiver, as he should have been, including the simple things like food and water. I took it to heart. There’s nothing more desperate then when you don’t have much for your young kids.”

Helping the needy started out early, right in her own home. “My mother taught me to give, it’s a part of our family,” she said. That carried over to her son, Al Toon, an iconic football player at UW-Madison and in the NFL for the New York Jets, and still is a steadfast Madisonian.

In her retirement years, O’uma likes to “putz around,” but is looking forward to when the pandemic is pretty much gone and she can go to Arizona to visit her grandchildren. She also can’t wait for church to reopen. “The first thing I want to do is go to church,” she said. “When I listen to the sermons, that’s my big joy.

O'uma also wants to go out with friends and talk politics, and looking forward to the community breakfast returning. “I really hated to see it go,” O’uma said. (The community breakfast stopped when the pandemic started).

“I met so many people at the breakfast,” she said. “Everybody knew me, and there always was a lot of laughter.”

Photo: Maggie Wilson and Scott Jacobson at Edna Taylor Park (5/12/2021 K Andro).
Volunteer Maggie Wilson: A Path of Delivering Hope
By Bill Novak
“Always try to give back.” Those words are Maggie Wilson’s mantra in life, and she continues to do so by volunteering at Hope’s Home Ministries and working toward a master’s degree in social work.

Maggie, 31, grew up in the South Byron area north of Brownsville in Dodge County. Married to Dustin Wilson and living in Madison, Maggie earned a marketing and communications degree at the University of Wisconsin. “I belonged to a sorority that was big on volunteering and philanthropy,” she said. Her ‘giving back’ continued during the pandemic, as she worked with Karen doing remote outreach every Wednesday, as well as organizing clothing donations to First United Methodist Church so it was easier for community groups to find appropriate clothing for those in need, especially during the winter. Maggie was a big help in the emergency food outreach, putting boxes of needed groceries together from the Food Pantry for delivery to those in the most dire situations.

What is the hardest part of working with the homeless? “When someone passes on,” she said. “At that point, there is nothing more you can do.”
Maggie and Dustin teamed up during the cold winter to deliver gifts and care packages to homeless people living at camp sites, under bridges, in tents and in cars.

“During the pandemic, a lot of people became homeless, and that can be a huge stigma for them,” she said. “You work to build up a rapport, so people can trust you. “Each person is unique, so sometimes it took a little bit of work.”
Now that Maggie is studying for her master’s degree online at the University of Kentucky, her volunteering is limited, but she still hopes to do outreach and work more at the Food Pantry.

“Giving back is always a passion,” she said. “Some of the relationships you build are very precious. A lot of homeless people don’t have a family, so we became family. In the big picture, they are helping us as well, and that is very rewarding.”
Photo: Scott Jacobson volunteering at the Food Pantry preparing emergency food package to help a family experiencing homelessness. (5/23/2021 K Andro)
Scott Jacobson's Path of Hope
By Bill Novak

Scott Jacobson has been addicted to alcohol and drugs for over two-thirds of his 38 years. Homeless since 2017, the Verona-area native hit bottom after his four-year-old son Leonardo was taken from him when Scott overdosed while the two were living at the YWCA shelter in Madison.

But out of the darkness came light, in the form of the remote outreach from Hope’s Home Ministries at First United Methodist Church.

While living outside in his car, volunteers would check on Scott numerous times over the past 3½ years, providing food, hygiene products and most importantly, hope, prayers, and encouragement, to get him through this rough stretch. Scott’s birthday was on May 21. He’s been sober since April 6, now living at the Tellurian Transitional Housing Program, focusing on his sobriety and getting new friends and family.

“I’m going to two to four meetings every day,” Scott said when talking about his life on his birthday. “I don’t have a job yet, but my life will be better than it’s ever been.”
Part of Scott’s recovery from a life of drugs and alcohol is volunteering with Hope’s Home Ministries, his way of giving back to the people who helped him so much.
“They do so much and they are very underappreciated,” he said. “I’m just trying to give back, because I am so grateful to them. They are family.”
Scott’s drinking started when he was 12.

“My parents were alcoholics so it was never an issue with me drinking,” he said. “Everyone was drinking around me.”

Scott’s older son, Tyler, was born when Scott was around 21. Tyler’s mom didn’t like the atmosphere so she left and took Tyler with her. Leonardo came along about four years ago, and they were living at his mother and step-dads home. “My step-dad was beating my mother, so I couldn’t live there anymore,” Scott said. “I went to the Salvation Army shelter in Madison with my infant son.”

Scott felt his life was spiraling out of control, so an easy out was turning to drugs and booze.

“Reality sucked, so I just wanted to numb it out,” he said. “You run from it.” His long road back, including daily meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and help from Hope’s Home Ministries has given him hope and he said there is hope for all homeless and addicts who want to get better. “I didn’t have hope, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Scott said. “You have to be willing to admit you have a problem and be willing to change.”

And, if you think you are the first person going through this, you are not.
“Someone has been there already,” he said. “There will always be somebody there to help you, you just need to be willing to take that chance.”

Scott has been sober since April 6, but he takes nothing for granted. “Take it one day at a time,” he said. “I can’t tell you I’ll be sober in the future, but I am today.”

Photo: Maggie Wilson (Hope's Home Volunteer) and Ben Jackson of Porchlight. (4/7/2021 K Andro)
Spotlight on Community Partner "Ranger Ben"
By Karen Andro

We celebrate "Ranger Ben" Jackson of Porchlight who helped us to transform how we serve during the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, he trained outreach leaders and workers to provide Remote Outreach going to tent campers, car campers and other areas where individuals are isolated.

Ranger Ben scouted sites with Sarah Lim, Community Development Specialist with the City of Madison. In turn, the City of Madison brought in hand washing stations, latrines, and sharps containers. Ranger Ben brought us together to serve in community safely. Today, many teams serve together to help our most vulnerable in Madison to receive food, personal care, and connections to safety and housing.

Ranger Ben and Will Brewer of Porchlight have been a vital part of our on-site outreach for many years. They staffed a table on Wednesday mornings at our Connections to Care, an important part of our Community Breakfast. We celebrate the good work of Ranger Ben, a strong advocate and dedicated service provider for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Thank you to all of our outreach partners who deliver emergency food and supplies from our Food Pantry!

  • Friends of the State Street Family
  • Madison Area Care for the Homeless
  • Porchlight
  • Sankofa Behavioral and Community Health
  • Tellurian
  • UnityPoint Health - Meriter HEALTH Program
  • Urban Triage
  • VA Outreach
Financial Contributions

To make a financial donation, mail a check to First United Methodist Church, PO Box 7578, Madison, WI 53707, or contribute online and select Hope’s Home Ministries as your gift designation.

Please email foodpantry@fumc.org or call the food pantry at 608-251-4407 to coordinate dropping off of donations.
Phone: 608-251-4407  foodpantry@fumc.org  Hope's Home Website