"I am the Vine, you are the branches..." John 15:5,9
|1304 Rt. 47, Unit A-H
Rio Grande, NJ 08242
Where All are Welcome!
The Branches was created to bring the presence of our church into another part of our County. Why? Because we believe we have something special to share: good news about God who loves us and is calling us to share the love with one another. So we chose to establish a storefront ministry through which we hope people will catch a glimpse of what God's love can do in our lives, of how that love can transform hearts, make us new again, and restore hope to our world. The Branches is a journey into God's love and that journey takes place best in community, wherever two or three are gathered.
What is The Branches?
The Branches, located in the Village Shoppes in Rio Grande, is an outreach ministry of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Stone Harbor, operating in collaboration with area churches and organizations. The center started with Coffee & Conversation two days a week several years ago. It has grown into a 6-day per week, multiple-activity outreach center, providing a safe, positive environment for the elderly, disabled, homeless, and individuals or families living in poverty.
The Branches is open six days a week from 9 AM to 1:30 PM, Monday to Saturday. Breakfast and lunch is served to as many as sixty people a day. Bag lunches are provided for folks to take with them at the end of the day. During Code Blue, when the temperatures dip and people need shelter from the cold, The Branches stays open all day, every day, until everyone has been placed in a motel room later that evening. Dinner is then provided for our guests. The food served at The Branches is donated by local churches and restaurants. We also partner with WaWa Corporation as part of their Harvest Program where they provide breakfast and lunch items. Local businesses provide bread, rolls, and desserts. Snacks, drinks and coffee are available all day. A fully stocked pantry is available to those who find themselves without food.
The Branches works with other churches and organizations in an effort to connect our guests with the services they require. One of our volunteers is designated as a Client Advocate. She has a team of other volunteers working with her. They assist with doctor and hospital visits, court appearances and social service issues. Another volunteer is our Veteran's Advocate. He works with veterans who often find themselves homeless and in need of medical care. Computers and a quiet place to work make it possible for our guests to fill out job applications and resumes. A knowledgeable vounteer is always on hand to assist.
Bible study is held every Monday morning, a chiropractor volunteers her time on Tuesday, and an experienced yoga instructor visits on Friday. A hair stylist gives free haircuts monthly. Some of the programs/services that have been offered at The Branches include Christian education, chair yoga, card club, craft classes, monthly movie nights, health screenings, sewing machines and classes, drug and alcohol abuse classes.
The Branches' volunteers began serving traditional holiday dinners and delivery of take-out hot meals to people in area motels who could not get out. Area churches and organizations have also joined in providing and serving holiday meals.
Our goal at The Branches is to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Questions? For more information, please call Sandra Lockhart, Director, or Terri Mascione, Administrator, at 609-886-5091. Their facebook page, The Branches Outreach Center of Rio Grande, is a good way of keeping up with their activities and needs.