Hazel ParkAugust 27, 2014
Landmark continues food distribution efforts
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — Landmark Community Church, on the east side of the I-75 service drive south of 10 Mile, has been feeding the hungry in Hazel Park for four years now, and efforts are still going strong, alongside a series of new efforts like youth sports, workshops for divorced parents and recovering addicts, and more.
The next food distribution is Thursday, Aug. 28. The distributions are held twice a month at the church at 24520 N. Chrysler Drive, on the second and last Thursdays. Together with Forgotten Harvest, each distribution gives out 10,000 pounds of food.
“I tell you, I walk the line and talk to every family, and it’s heartbreaking to hear what these people are going through. It’s very tough for them, and they really depend on this food to supplement other sources, since the government is cutting back and many people have fallen off the lists and don’t qualify anymore,” said Barry David, pastor of Landmark Community Church.
The food distribution is for Hazel Park residents, and pickup is entirely anonymous. Recipients contact the church ahead of time, secure a number and make an appointment to pick up the food. Then, they drive by at the appointed time, with their number card displayed in the vehicle, and volunteers see the number, check the computer system to see how many people are covered by that number, and load up the vehicle for the recipient with the food items. The recipient doesn’t even have to get out of the car.
The items vary depending on what Forgotten Harvest has available each week, but they usually include fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and cereals. More staple foods, including canned goods, are available in limited supplies via the church’s pantry, for true emergency situations, but those are separate from the food distribution. Volunteers help arrange the items received from Forgotten Harvest every other week.
“It’s all in bulk, in big containers, which we break down so everyone gets approximately the same proportions, taking into account the size of each family. When people come in with their numbers, some on behalf of their neighbors or others in need, we know in our computer system how many families and people they’re covering,” David said. “It’s amazing how some people take care of each other, some taking care of those who are immobilized, or neighbors. It’s a fairly complex system, but over time, we’ve learned how to do it.”
During the summer, the food distribution program reaches about 180-200 families. During the winter, that number rises to 230-250 families. There’s a greater need in the winter since cash-strapped families find themselves faced with the decision of paying for heat or paying for food.
Food distribution isn’t the only way Landmark is trying to serve its neighbors.
In recent months, Landmark launched its youth sports program. It’s primarily focused on boys basketball right now, but it’s looking to add other attractions, like a girls basketball team, an indoor football practice facility, cheerleading, dance and even drama, since there is a stage built into the church’s full-size gymnasium. The sports take place on the third floor of the 112,000-square-foot building.
For basketball, there are three age groups, spanning first grade through junior high. The kids meet 6-8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday nights, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays. Adults can come by for a pickup game of basketball on Friday, starting around 7 p.m. For the kids, it’s not all fun and games, though — for every hour they play, they are required to put in two hours of tutoring or mentoring at a separate time.
“We don’t want them to lose sight of academics,” David said. “We want kids to be well-balanced, not gym rats who’ll fail at school.”
Currently, there are 15-20 kids who regularly participate in the youth sports program.
“I’m confident it helps the community and it helps the kids,” David said. “We get the parents out, too, and they’re welcome to stay and get involved, if they want.”
For parents who have undergone divorce, Landmark will be starting up its Divorce Recovery workshop sometime after Labor Day. According to David, around 60 percent of families in Hazel Park are single-parent households. The workshop will help these parents to work through the issues they face trying to raise a family.
Another workshop, also starting up after Labor Day, is Celebrate Recovery, aimed at recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Like the youth sports program and divorce workshop, Celebrate Recovery is open to all, including people outside of Hazel Park.
And around the same time, Landmark will launch its Business Round Table, where they will meet with business owners from Hazel Park and Madison Heights, encouraging them and praying with them over breakfast or lunch.
Between feeding the hungry for four years and all of the new initiatives they have coming this fall, Landmark has been busy, but they know they can’t do everything alone. That’s why they’ve also been cultivating close ties with four other churches as part of Landmark Hub Ministries. This includes a church in Allen Park and another in Detroit.
Together, they combine services, like the time they spent New Year’s Eve together with at least 120 people. Landmark has rooms to spare at its building and features like baptismal fonts that some of the other churches lack. It’s all about breaking down barriers between congregations and focusing on the faith they share.
“We’re able to work together. We have a common concern about building up people, being a blessing to people, strengthening our community and also being able to honor what we believe the Scripture tells us to do in terms of helping people understand the Gospel and helping them to lift themselves up,” said Dr. Stanley L. Scott, pastor of Salvation Temple in Hazel Park, another of the coalition members. “The bottom line is we’re stronger when we work together than when we try to do things apart.”
Landmark Community Church is located at 24520 N. Chrysler Drive and can be reached by calling (248) 545-8800.