Local Community

At First Congregational, we engage with the community in numerous ways and in conjunction with a variety of not-for-profit organizations. Below is a list of projects and organizations that First Congo supports locally.

Household items are frequent needs for families struggling to improve their quality of life in the Fox Valley. Recently many specific, known needs have come to our attention.

Did you know that April is Mental Health Awareness Month? Did you also know that our First Congregational Church in 1970 founded what was then known as the Appleton Pastoral Counseling Center, which evolved years later into the Samaritan Counseling Center? 

Thank you for showing that people of all different faiths are united in one cause—to make the world a better place.

ESTHER stands for Empowerment, Solidarity, Truth, Hope, Equality, Reform.

ESTHER logoESTHER's purpose is to draw members of First Congregational together with people from other faith groups in the Fox Valley to build community and work on issues of justice for the common good of all. ESTHER has formed task forces to address current topics of study and action.

Fox Valley Warming Shelter LogoThe Fox Valley Warming Shelter welcomes homeless men and women into their facility, where staff and volunteers address guests’ basic needs of food and shelter while providing them guidance towards self-sufficiency. Our congregation provides meals and volunteers for one week during each calendar year.


First Congregational's Good Neighbor Team (GNT) is mentor, teacher, role model and friend for refugees being welcomed to the Fox Cities area. Our team walks alongside newly arrived refugees as they journey towards becoming self sufficient. For the family that we are assigned, we offer support, cultural education, a connection with community resources and our presence as friends and community.


Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Fox Cities logoThe Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity aims to eliminate substandard housing for low-income families by working in partnership to build simple, affordable homes. It is not necessary for volunteers to have carpentry experience, and there are many options available to interested volunteers, such as registering workers, providing the meal during a shift or assembling housewarming gifts. 

First Congregational participates in building crews (several of our members are part of the senior crew), provides financial support and has joined in the annual Interfaith Builds, since their inception in 2012. In the summer of 2015 First Congo was one of thirteen faith communities that contributed to the construction of homes in Kimberly and Grand Chute, Wisconsin.


Homeless Connections LogoHomeless Connections provides temporary shelter in a safe environment and guidance to the homeless of the Fox Valley. We at First Congregational provide financial support, encourage members to volunteer at the shelter and facilitate E2F (Empty-to-Full).

E2F is an opportunity for members to fill disposable pans with meals for Homeless Connections. Once each spring and fall, the empty disposable pans are available with a recipe and ingredients list to be taken home, filled with lasagna or another easy casserole dish, and returned to church.


LEAVEN Turning Hardship into Hope logoLEAVEN is a local mission through which volunteers help people with basic needs such as housing, utilities and transportation. Many members of First Congregatinoal volunteer weekly.


Working in the plant-a-row garden

This community garden project provides fresh produce for local food pantries and Homeless Connections. In 2016, the garden produced 19 different types of fruits and vegetables and ended the season with a total harvest of 3,022 pounds.

Volunteers are needed to grow seedlings, set up the drip irrigation system, plant, weed, harvest and deliver produce. No experience is needed, just a desire to help with this valuable ministry. Volunteers are needed to commit to working at the garden on a weekly basis for two to three hours.

The Plant-a-Row garden project was founded by Dr. Jack Harris, who was committed to providing fresh, nutritious food to people in our community who are struggling. In 2015, First Congregational introduced two raised beds on the church property in addition to the large ¼-acre garden we maintain off site.


Blessing of prayer shawls.The Prayer Shawl Ministry group uses the gifts of knitting and crocheting to embrace others with care and reach out to the wider community. Recently they have worked with Samaritan Counseling Center, Casa Clare and the Center for Grieving Children to provide shawls to both children and adults in need of support.

Join us to experience God’s loving presence at the monthly meetings and build fellowship with each other. Over one thousand shawls have been given since the program began.


Blessing of a bunk bed for Project NOAHH

Household items such as bikes, double-strollers, dressers and beds are frequent needs for families struggling to improve their quality of life in the Fox Valley. Recently many specific needs have come to our attention.

  • Parents with 3 children are in need of twin beds and a work lunch box for dad.
  • Single female is in need of items to help furnish her new apartment: lamps, rugs, dishes, pans, dresser, kitchen table/chairs, blankets.
  • A couple with a baby due in November recently moved to Appleton. They are in need of dishes, kitchen table/chairs, bedding
  • A teenage boy is in need of a bike to get around to the library, rec center and appointments. This will help him become more independent.
  • Parents of 3 children are in need of an infant stroller

Please make arrangements with Pat Hauser before bringing donations to the church. Thank you for sharing with those in need!


Samaritan Counseling Center logoThe Samaritan Counseling Center facilitates emotional healing for those with financial need, regardless of faith background, so that they may more fully develop their relationships with self, others and God. Volunteer work on committees, fund raising and special projects is sometimes needed. Financial support opportunities are also available.


Helping maintain the grounds at COTS on Service Sunday. Each spring we hold a special morning of brief worship, community service projects and sharing for all ages. This is a great opportunity for families to work on service projects together!