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AROUND TOWN: ESM marks 30 years of churches serving those in need
Churches always have been that place to turn when people needed help or were in crisis. That was especially true of large, easily accessible downtown churches.
Thirty years ago, eight of the major downtown churches, acknowledging that those in crisis were by trial and error finding their way to the separate churches, created “a better way” with Ecumenical Social Ministries, said ESM Executive Director Carolyn McDole.
More than 500 supporters and church members gathered recently for a Founder’s Day Luncheon, recognizing the approximately 60,000 services worth almost $2 million offered by ESM and its volunteers each year from the facility at Weber and Bijou streets.
Surrounded by photos of the faces of the poor, young and old, energetic dynamo Regina Lewis shared that once she and her son had been two of those faces.
“I would not be standing here were it not for you adopting my face and my son’s face.”
Today the single mother who at one time had no food for their next meals and no money for rent has earned her Ph.D and her son is a cadet at the Air Force Academy. She gives back to nonprofits and “I enjoy serving my community that was there for us when we needed it.”
Representing the original eight ESM churches were the Board of Directors: the Rev. Graham Baird, First Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Chuck Blaisdell, First Christian Church; the Rev. Benjamin Broadbent, First Congregational Church; the Rev. Kent Ingram, First United Methodist Church; the Rev. Francisco Quezada, St. Mary’s Cathedral; the Rev. Michael Sayler, First Baptist Church; and the Rev. Stephen Zimmerman, Grace & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
In addition, there are lay representatives on the board from each of the founding churches.