About opcropwalk

Hunger Walkathon West CROP WALK is a community effort of more than 30 congregations, schools & organizations to help hungry people in our community & throughout the world. We celebrate our 34th year of ending hunger one step at a time.

9 Local Agencies That Make a Difference

As we near our 34th annual Hunger Walkathon West CROP Walk it is important to acknowledge the work that these agencies do in our communities of Oak Park, Austin, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park and River Forest.

Each of them in their own way impacts the people in their communities. We are lifted by their dedication and giving.

Expressing this in words is sometimes difficult but this video by the OPRF Food Pantry explains the mission.

We salute them:

Cluster Tutoring
First Baptist Church Food Pantry
Forest Park Food Pantry
Housing Forward
OPRF Food Pantry
Pine Avenue Food Pantry
Proviso Food Pantry
St. Eulalia Quinn Center Food Pantry
Vision of Restoration

Join us this Sunday, May 7, 2017 Signup today

Grand Marshal for 2017 Hunger Walkathon West CROP Walk

We are pleased to have Kenneth Elisapana as our Grand Marshal for the 2017 Hunger Walkathon West CROP Walk. Kenneth has an experience and story to share with us about his journey from South Sudan to America. The following is excerpted from a forthcoming book by Tom Holmes’ titled “The Soul of a Liberal Village.”

“I was born in South Sudan in a small village named Jambo roughly between 1968 and 1970,” said Kenneth Elisapana. He doesn’t know for sure, because birth certificates were not given out in those days in Jambo.

His first day in the U.S. sheds light on what his growing up in Jambo was like.  He arrived in the U.S. in 1999 to study at Indiana Taylor University. When he arrived on campus he was taken to the dining hall where there was a long buffet table with many kinds of foods.  He took a plate and helped himself to kidney beans and rice.

The man who was running the place came to Elisapana and seeing that he was a new student, asked if he had enough to eat. Kenneth replied that he came from South Sudan where Christians were being persecuted. When the man asked him if he wanted more food, Kenneth replied that he couldn’t afford any more.

“He said, ‘Kenneth, you are a student here.  You can eat anything on the table.’ When I went to my room I could not believe that in the world there is food like this, and people live like this. For me this was a picture of heaven.”

“Then I imagined children starving to death back home,” he continued, “and I began to ask God if God really cares. That was a turning point for me, and I still struggle with it today.  I tell my kids that if we don’t need an extra jacket, we don’t need it. Why? Because I know this is not real. This is not how our people live in Sudan.”

Elisapana described the context from which he had come. He said that Sudan had once been the largest country in Africa before it was partitioned into North Sudan and South Sudan.  Arabs had come to the coastal regions to act as middle men in the slave trade.  When the slave trade ended, the Arabs stayed. The north was mainly Muslim and the south largely Christian.

He said that when the British left, it created a power vacuum and the Muslims wanted to make all of Sudan a Muslim state. The Arabs were concentrated in the northern part of Sudan, but it was in the south that most of the resources including oil were found.  The fighting became intense in the 1990s. That’s when the news was filled with stories about “the lost boys of Sudan.”

“My father was killed in the war in 1992,” he said.  “When I was around 16 or 17 I fled.  I was walking without shoes and drinking filthy water from the river. I was in Egypt for almost two years as a refugee.”

One day, while attending a worship service at a church, an elderly woman recognized him. She had been a missionary and had been his teacher back in Juba.  She went back to England and told her congregation what had happened.  The congregation voted to send money to help him continue his education in Kenya. By then he around twenty, and that’s where he met Judy his wife, who was from the Kokuyu tribe in Kenya. One of the colleges at which he was studying in Nairobi had an exchange program with Taylor, and that’s how Elisapana wound up in Indiana for, he thought, one semester.

“When I arrived,” he said, “the president of the school called me to his office.  After I told my story, he was crying.  He told me that he was going to help me stay in the U.S. until I finished my schooling. I stayed for two years, majored in sociology and graduated in the class of 2002.  They paid for everything.”

Kenneth then received a scholarship to go to Southern Illinois for graduate studies and received a masters degree in public administration in 2004, and was hired by a relief agency in the Chicago area which was doing a lot of resettlement work with the “lost boys” from Sudan and Kenya. Two years later the State of Illinois hired him to do social work, which has been doing since 2007.

Since the drive from Aurora, where the Elisapana family was living at the time, to Chicago was too hard on him, the family moved to the Austin Neighborhood just east of Oak Park. After searching for a home congregation for a time, they felt comfortable with the pastor, Marti Scott, and the congregation and joined.

Since they daughter Helen was five years old at the time and Chicago’s schools had a bad reputation, Kenneth told his pastor that they were considering a move to Oak Park where the schools are rated very high. She replied, “Let me think about it,” and after a few days she said to the family, “Would you consider renting the parsonage temporarily?”

“I still can’t believe I’m living in this place,” he said. “That’s why for me when you talk of God’s hand this is a success story, like how God took Moses from a basket in the Nile River to deliver his people to the Promised Land. This is my story, too.”

Grateful for the blessings they have received, Judy and Kenneth have not forgotten about their countrymen who are suffering. They have a 501c3 not for profit called South Sudan Hope, for which he goes on a mission trip every year.

“This year,” he said in 2013, “we will purchase land on which to build a guesthouse where experts can stay to teach the people about carpentry and welding and brick making.  We want to provide sewing machines for tailoring and seeds for sustainable farming.

Here, he experiences people who take the time to listen to his story and understand where he has come from as gifts from God. “They take the time to listen,” he explained, “and for me that is healing, because we can talk through it.”

“It reminds me of God’s goodness,” he continued. “A simple boy from a village who spoke no English, grew up bare foot, had not seen a doctor because there were none where I lived and I’m sitting here where you can get electricity by turning on a switch and my wife and I have two cars.”

Elisapana likes some things about Oak Park, but there are some aspects of the village with which he is uncomfortable. “I must say that District 97 is great for my kids,” he said.  “That’s number one.  Oak Park is also near where I work.  A third reason we like the town is because in the schools and in the churches they accept diversity. The fact that I am from Africa and speak with an accent is OK.”

 

 

2 Months Until The CROP Walk

Today at 2 p.m. will mark two months until the 34th annual Hunger Walkathon CROP Walk. We are preparing with our team for some new features of our walk.  Information will be forthcoming soon.

The agencies we support were presented with their checks in 2016 and we made a presentation at the Community of Congregations Annual meeting in January.

We continue to be grateful for all the people that participate in this walk.  We will have a Recruiters Rally this Saturday and rely on them to bring the word of the walk to their congregations and companies that are participating.

We look forward to your participation to make this the biggest walk, again in Illinois. You can signup here.  See you in two months.

Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah

To all our supporters, volunteers and everyone involved in the issue of hunger we wish you a very Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah as well as other celebrations of faith and spirituality.

The agencies we supported in 2016 continue to do the work in helping feed the hungry and assisting them in ways that making this time of year meaningful to them.

We celebrate the work of the agencies we donated money to this year with your help.

Continue to look at ways to support their work and ours:

We have already started on our plans and efforts for the 2017 walk, Sunday, May 7, 2017.

Consider volunteering and/or forming a team to making 2017 our biggest effort and success yet.

With thanks,

Hunger Walkathon West Planning Committee

 

 

7 Local Agencies We Walk For

7 Local Agencies

This Sunday at 2 p.m. we start the 33rd annual CROP Hunger Walk in the communities of Oak Park, Forest Park, River Forest and the Austin neighborhood in Chicago.

The walk, which raises money and awareness, on the issue of hunger: around the corner from where you live to around the world.

The local agencies we donate 25% of the proceeds to are:

Cluster Tutoring Program
Forest Park Food Pantry
Housing Forward
OPRF Food Pantry
Pine Avenue Food Pantry
Proviso Food Pantry
St. Eulalia Quinn Center Food Pantry

Cluster Tutoring Program: CROP funds purchase nutritious snacks for Austin students, grades K-12, who meet weekly during the school year with a trained volunteer tutor.

Forest Park Food Pantry: CROP funds help stock the pantry with food. Located in the Forest Park Community Center, this pantry is supported 100% by free-will donations and the CROP Walk.

Housing Forward: In 2014, provided a total of 543 clients with 12,765 nights of shelter services and 38,295 meals.

OPRF Food Pantry: CROP funds help stock the pantry with food the year around.

Pine Avenue Food Pantry: CROP funds help buy food for the pantry. This pantry serves an area in Austin where no other food pantry is available.

Proviso Food Pantry: CROP funds help with the purchase and pick-up of food and other supplies. They provide food aid Saturday mornings for registered families coming from the entire Proviso township. (Over 100 per week).

St. Eulalia Quinn Center Food Pantry: CROP funds are used for the purchase and delivery of food and supplies for pantry operating 3 afternoons a week. In 2008 they provided food or holiday food to over 1200 families.

Become part of the solution in helping people receive much needed food for their family.  Join us Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.  You can and do make a difference.

 

Business Support Part Deux

Todd and Holland tea Forest Park

Yesterday we talked about business support.  There are so many to thank who contribute their support and money to the walk. We want to share the support that merchants in Forest Park give to the walk.

One such business is Todd and Holland Tea Merchants in Forest Park. Their story, detailed and shown here is one of a geneses from his childhood to his adulthood. Starting as a web based business, just two years later a brick and motor store was opened to continue the conviction and passion to share how tea can be enjoyed by the masses, and thus the tea merchant in Forest Park was born.

We appreciate the support of many businesses in Forest Park and appreciate their commitment to our voice and walk to end hunger by “ending hunger one step at a time.”

Please support the local merchants of Forest Park, Oak Park, River Forest and Austin who support us.

The walk is just a few short days away. Join us.

 

Local Businesses Support Us

Community Bank Oak Park River Foirest

Community Bank Oak Park River Foirest

One of the ways in which we get funds for the CROP Hunger Walk are donations from local businesses.

The Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest is one of those businesses. Information about the bank found on their website states: Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest opened as a locally owned bank focused on creating financial solutions for individuals, professionals, owners of closely-held businesses and nonprofit organizations.  Starting in 1996 with ten employees, assets of $5 million and a customer base of less than two dozen accounts, Community Bank has grown to more than 50 employees, over $250 million in assets, and over 15,000 customer accounts.  In addition, our customer base has expanded from the surrounding communities to include customers across the country and internationally.  Now in our second decade of serving the community, we are rededicating ourselves to our mission of providing the best products, services and technology possible.

Having support and donations help us in our work to #endhungernow, through our CROP Hunger Walks. Now in our 33rd year as a local community initiative, it is with heartfelt thanks that we acknowledge their support and the many other businesses who embrace our work on making the issue of hunger known within our community.

Please support our local business, they support us, please support them. Have a business?  Please join them and sign-up/contribute for the walk this Sunday, May 1st on the business team.

With just several more days until our walk, sign-up and donate.  See you May 1st.