What is GSR?
Give|Serve|Restore is an annual project that gathers churches of Southern Chester County to collaborate for the common good of the community during the season of Lent.
Why Do Give|Serve|Restore?
We believe that God has a plan for restoration in our world and that we can take part in the restoration process in our neighborhoods and communities by "showing up" through tangible acts of love and service. And we believe that can we go further together than alone. GSR is a platform for creating new connections - among churches as well as between church members and the needs in their communities. It is also an opportunity to have a large impact on local needs through the united efforts of many.
Who is involved?
GSR is open to all the churches in Southern Chester County - last year we had churches participating all the way from Chadds Ford to Lower Oxford and from a diversity of denominational backgrounds and traditions. We encourage churches to participate in any way they can: some churches participate in all aspects of the project while others focus on one or two areas that fit their congregation’s mission and capacity.
GSR 2019 - 30 Days of Poverty Awareness
This was our 5th year hosting GSR and it continues to be an important part of our mission to supportive collective works of “common grace” through the church community in Southern Chester County. We’ve learned a lot over the past 5 years about what works well for our church partners as well as what seems to have the greatest impact on those serving and those served.
We structured GSR 2019 in a slightly different format, based on feedback from all of you and current opportunities for learning and service. This year’s project was condensed into a 30-day period based around the theme of Poverty Awareness. We once again partnered with local organizations working close to the deepest needs of our neighbors, and offered three tiers of involvement. As always, congregations and individuals were encouraged to participate in whatever ways they could. Our goal: to increase awareness of what poverty in Southern Chester County looks like, and facilitate opportunities for meaningful engagement. Keep reading to learn more.
TIER 1: GIVE BACK
Tier one of engagement was based on 2 opportunities to give back in a material way:
#1 - Food Drive:
This year we collected almost 12,000 lbs of food for our local cupboards, enough to feed hundreds of families in need across Southern Chester County! Contact the cupboard nearest you to find out how you can continue to support their mission throughout the year.
#2 - Fund Drive:
Getting Ahead is a key part of the Southern Chester Opportunity Network, a community-wide initiative addressing the roots of poverty both at a systemic and a personal level. Because of the generous support of the faith community, this impactful program has been able to move forward without barriers in Southern Chester County.
Read more about the Getting Ahead program here.
TIER 2: LEARN MORE
We believe that real change in our community is possible only when we as individuals are willing to take steps toward change in our own hearts and minds - in relationship with ourselves, God, and others. And we know that the best way to do this is through personal experience!
During GSR 2019, we offered two different opportunities for participants to challenge their own perspectives on poverty in a meaningful way. These opportunities pushed participants to ask the questions: What causes poverty? and What does poverty look like in Southern Chester County and what can we do about it?
The Constellation Network partnered with the Southern Chester County Opportunity Network and the Department of Community Development to offer the following learning experiences during GSR 2019:
BRIDGES OUT OF POVERTY WORKSHOPS
Bridges out of Poverty is a framework providing perspectives and strategies to help communities address poverty in a comprehensive way.
This introductory workshop will give you the chance to explore new ways of understanding poverty and hear about the work the SCC Opportunity Network is doing to advance this initiative in our community.
Workshops are held regularly throughout the year. Contact us to register for the next one or request one just for your group!
THE POVERTY SIMULATION in SCC
During this event, participants take on the identity of someone in poverty and work together with their family unit to simulate a month in poverty over the course of an hour. The simulation is based on the stories of real people and is meant to sensitize participants to the realities of poverty.
We are hoping to repeat this event again in the fall of 2019. Stay tuned for updates or contact us to find out more.
tier 3 - get involved
Over the course of this past year we have been working in close partnership with several groups working to tackle systemic problems underlying poverty in Southern Chester County. These initiatives are in need of a specific resource that our churches have in abundance - dedicated, compassionate people who have a heart for their community.
Throughout GSR 2019 we promoted ways for members of local congregations to connect their time and talents to these initiatives in an ongoing way - what we called Tier 3 of engagement. These initiatives include:
The Southern Chester County Opportunity Network (SCCON), our biggest partner, with work groups focused on Housing, Transportation, Community Collaboration, and Employment & Economic Opportunity. Quarterly meetings update the larger group on progress and ways to get involved.
The Kennett Kindergarten Readiness Initiative, working to advance educational equity in the Kennett area by making sure that all children have access to the resources they need to start school emotionally, socially, and academically ready to learn. This initiative includes bi-monthly meetings as well as work groups focused on specific priority areas.
These initiatives are up and running throughout the year, and are still in need of your support! We encourage you to contact us in order to learn more.