Many faiths join together to serve hungry and homeless.

Neighbor to Neighbor

Article by Faith Barnidge, Contra Costa Times

Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Temple Isaiah of Lafayette and San Ramon Valley Islamic Center members saw a growing need to combat poverty, hunger and homelessness in our community and formed "Neighbor to Neighbor" three years ago.

Neighbor to Neighbor frequently works and supports SHELTER, Inc. and their efforts to prevent and end homelessness in Contra Costa County. Their hope is to deepen the ties among people of all faiths.

Neighbor to Neighbor volunteers recently helped serve a healthy meal to temporary residents at the Mountain View Emergency Family Shelter in Martinez, including 19 adults and 21 children.

"As Christians, Jews and Muslims, we came together to prepare and serve a large well-balanced meal for the shelter residents," says Terry Clark, Neighbor to Neighbor coordinator and member of the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church.

"This was just one small step of what we hope will be many opportunities for us to really have an impact on the quality of life of those in need," says Rabbi Judy Shanks of Temple Isaiah of Lafayette.

The Mountain View Emergency Family Shelter is at full capacity and expanded for the winter season.

"Right now we have 14 families living with us and 17 of the 21 children are under 5 years old," says SHELTER, Inc.'s case manager Terry Webb. "Our kitchen is run 100 percent by volunteers with a budget of only $1,000 per fiscal year, so our volunteers and donors are very much appreciated and needed.

The interfaith liaison at San Ramon Valley Islamic Center, Hina Khan-Mukhatar, expressed appreciation for the shared values among the faiths.

"It is important to all of us that we show our gratitude for our blessings and then to also share those blessings with others who may not be as fortunate as we are.

"As part of Neighbor to Neighbor, Jews, Christians and Muslims in the East Bay have been able to break bread together on numerous occasions.

"So it's nice now to take that same generosity and try to fill the hearts and tummies of the homeless in our communities."

The goal for the new year is to grow their interfaith group and to identify what more collectively can be done to help the community and fellow neighbors in need. Contact them at SHELTER, Inc. at or call 925-335-0698.


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