They recruited him for his language skills, and quite possibly his muscle, but little did they know his warm infectious smile would have an equally important impact. When Andrew Chapel’s Food Pantry went mobile this past year, Mauricio Valencia became a key member of the delivery team. His ability to communicate with the mostly Spanish speaking clientele allowed our church to better identify the families’ needs. On the surface it may seem like a small gesture but making an effort to provide regionally familiar foods that non-English speakers already know how to prepare and doesn’t require the ability to understand the package directions, made a huge impact on the success of the program.
Moving to the United States from Colombia a little more than 13 years ago, Mauricio remembers what it was like to move here and not speak any English. He knows what it’s like to have professional skills and take a job outside of his career field to become acclimated to living in this country while studying English in his off hours.
His own personal experience combined with his love for the church is evident in the way he extends genuine hospitality to families in need. Because of the personal connection he makes with the food pantry clients, they feel seen and welcome. Mauricio is a church member who heard of a need and said to himself, “I could do that.” It was really that simple.
Today, he works in his traditional career field of law enforcement and is grateful for a job that allows him the flexibility to help when he can. This past year, food provided through our food pantry and other similar assistance ministries has been critical for those who have lost jobs and food security through regular school attendance. When people like Mauricio who take a few hours of their time to help be the church, we see an example of how a little effort makes an important difference for others.
Growing up, Mauricio says he was blessed by the hospitality of the church in his own community, and he admires the retired members of Andrew Chapel who choose to spend their time serving the church. They are called to use their gifts of service one hour at a time.
During the summer months, the food pantry ministry is active in a larger format on a monthly schedule. Our next delivery to Cunningham Park Elementary School is on Friday, July 30 at 8:30—anyone with a couple of hours is welcome to assist with the delivery. Food pantry donations are ongoing and can be dropped off at the church Sunday mornings and on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12:00-2:00 PM. Andrew Chapel is also collecting school supplies for children in need at Cunningham Park now through August 15. Please see the ACUMC Summer Mission announcement for more information.