Mission and Service News

Kudos to First Congregational member Doug Gilbert, who was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.

Doug has been lending a hand to Fox Cities Habitat for more than 20 years. He was recognized as Volunteer of the Year at Habitat’s recent annual appreciation dinner.

One Great Hour of Sharing enables the United Church of Christ to reach people and communities affected by disaster, displacement and poverty. Your donations provide assistance to families and communities around the world, helping them become stronger, healthier and better equipped to address hardships and catastrophes. 

Every gift you give brings you into another person’s life. You are providing education and tools for a young man in Sri Lanka to become employed and provide for his family. You are providing a boat and nets for fishermen in Haiti who lost theirs in recent storms—they can once again provide food for their families and send their children to school. You are providing mobile clinics to families in East Timor, reducing malnutrition, anemia and intestinal worms among children there.

Thank you for giving generously to our One Great Hour of Sharing offering. Your generosity will change lives and make a difference!

Tuesday, March 28 • 1:30–7:30 PM
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, 400 W College Ave, Appleton

Have you ever wondered how you can make a difference in the lives of our veterans?

Check out Connect to Courage, a free event designed to raise awareness of the plight and challenges of our veterans. The free event’s Resource Fair will feature 50 booths manned by local support organizations that offer resources and educational tools to assist veterans, their families and our community.

The Connect to Courage event also will offer showings of the Project 22 documentary at 2:30 and 7:00 PM, and Question, Persuade & Refer (QPR) training from 5:00 to 6:30 PM.

Learn more at the Connect to Courage Facebook page.

Thank You from the Fox Valley Warming Shelter

On behalf of the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, I want to personally thank your pastors and congregation members for your support in January and February, and for your continuing support throughout the year. The staff, the board and especially our clients are very grateful for everyone who helped in any way. A special thank you to Leigh Grube and Amy Lewis for all their work in coordinating this effort. It is only through the generous gift of talent and time by such dedicated volunteers that our mission of sheltering those who are homeless is possible.

For any of you who enjoyed your experience at the shelter and would like to volunteer again, we would love to have you!

The shelter will be participating in the Human Race, a fundraising walk to be held on May 6. Please consider forming a team to walk with us and/or walking with us individually. Please call Connie at 920-419-0928 or email for more info, or you can join our team online by going to foxvalleywarmingshelter.org and clicking on the “read more” link. See you May 6!

Connie Raether,
Fox Valley Warming Shelter volunteer coordinator

A mother sleeps on a mattress with springs popping out. A family just moved into their home and is struggling to get on their feet again. Children share mattresses that have been soiled with urine and are no longer able to be cleaned. Another family recently got custody of their grandchildren but have no beds for them.

Help us make sure these families have safe, clean places to sleep: Consider donating or supporting Project NOAHH.

Right now, we have seven families that are looking for beds and/or mattresses. Two of those families are also looking for dressers. We especially need new sets of twin sheets and twin beds.

If you can help, please make arrangements with Pat Hauser before bringing donations to the church. Thank you for sharing with those in need!


Thank you to our congregants who have served an average of 60 homeless clients at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter this last January and February. We had neighbors team up and prepare meals together and smiles from those who served those meals. There were generous souls who spent early mornings serving breakfast and making lunches, and late-nighters who did lots of laundry.

None of this went unnoticed by the grateful patrons who felt the hands of God extended to them and had a little more comfort added to their day.

Thank you all for making it a success and remember, you can volunteer at any time via foxvalleywarmingshelter.org or by contacting Connie Raether, the shelter volunteer coordinator, at (920) 419-0928.

There will be many warm feet throughout the community this winter thanks to First Congo members who came together to support Mission and Service and the Children’s Ministry in their sock drive.

We collected over 500 pairs of men’s, women’s and children’s socks that included fun socks, athletic socks, fancy socks and dress socks. In addition, the children collected $290 during the December Joyful Noise offering. This money will be used to purchase additional socks when the current supply is depleted.

Deb Burich will begin distributing socks to our ministry partners on an as needed basis.

A great big thank you to all who donated!

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.

  • Mother of five children is in need of two twin beds and dressers.
  • Mother with a 9-year-old is in need of a queen-size sheet and comforter as well as a twin-size sheet set and comforter.
  • Mother of an 11-year-old is in need of a vacuum and a twin mattress.
  • Mother of three teenagers is in need of two twin mattresses.
  • Family with two children and one on the way is in need of towels of all kinds, pots/pans, toaster, cookie sheets, cooking utensils and silverware.

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

April 2-7, 2017

Do you want to help with improving a family’s house by making it safe for everyday living? Are you interested in working on a new build for a family with a lower income but the means to own a house? Are you interested in helping a homeless person with laundry, finding a job or just listening? Do you want to offer assistance at the food bank for someone looking for food to make? Do you want to serve meals to the homeless at Loaves and Fishes? Are you interested in making new friends while serving your fellow man? All these and many more can be yours by doing a mission trip to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi. A signup sheet is available in the Narthex.

One other side note for those who didn’t realize this, the youth were at Back Bay Mission this past July. One of the projects they did was to construct some new bunk beds for the dorm rooms. You can try them out for yourselves to see if they are more comfortable than the metal bunk beds. 


Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Fox Cities logoOnce again, First Congregational UCC is supporting the Fox Valley Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build. Over 25 faith communities will be working together to build two homes during the summer. This year we are partnering with Congregational United Church of Christ, Neenah/Menasha.

Volunteers are needed to help construct the homes at 2300 and 2310 Russet Court in Appleton on July 14 and August 27. Volunteers are needed at the ReStore on September 10. Our church will provide lunches and site support on July 20 and August 20.

This is your opportunity to demonstrate harmony between faith communities by volunteering and meeting new friends while building a home for a family or providing food for working volunteers. Please sign up in the Narthex. Contact  Tim De Hart.

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!

October 1–8, 2016

Assembling a wheelchair ramp in Jonesville, Virginia“Warmer, Safer, Drier.” That is the mission of the Appalachia Service Project. Their goal is to help families in need to improve the condition of their homes.

We are planning our third service trip to Jonesville, VA for October. You need no specific carpentry skills to participate, just a willingness to work and a desire to connect with the families we meet.

The cost of the trip is $325 plus travel expenses. The $325 covers lodging and meals and helps fund the service projects. The first year we helped build a wheelchair ramp for a woman who had been confined to her home because of its inaccessibility. Last year, we replaced a living room floor and the underlying supports. Both years we had wonderful experiences with the families we served.

This year, we also have the option of staying a day longer and stopping at the famous National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Please sign up in the Narthex if you would like to come. You may call or email Valerie Schultz with any questions regarding the trip. You can also go to the Appalachia Service Project website for more information.

Over 180 people participated in Service Sunday last week! Thank you all for making the day brighter for many others!

  • Making fleece blankets on Service Sunday.Made 26 fleece blankets to deliver with our Project NOAHH bunkbeds (Neighbors Offering a Helping Hand).
  • Baked 30-dozen chocolate-chip cookies, with 12 plates of 2-dozen cookies delivered into the community as “random acts of kindness.” Some recipients were the Appleton Police and Fire departments, Kaukauna Recreation Department staff, Kimberly Area School District summer school staff, and Appleton City Hall at Baking cookies on Service Sunday.Plant-a-Row many plants and seeds were planted and yards of irrigation hose laid.
  • Butterfly and bird houses are adorning yards and bringing smiles to many faces.
  • Spread lots of mulch and pulled weeds in the Labyrinth garden.
  • Cut buckthorn and overgrowth in the ravine.
  • Handed out 40 “Have a Wash on Us” bags containing detergent and quarters at local laundromats, as well as quarters for dryers.
  • Spreading mulch on Service Sunday.A multitude of voices shared lovely music with residents at Brewster Village, brightening many faces and souls.
  • 2-dozen bags adorned with artistry and inspirational words will welcome refugees coming to Appleton in the next months.

Opens Friday, April 29

(In)visible at the History Museum at the Castle is an exhibit that will show the spectrum of homelessness in our community. Photos taken by individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the Fox Cities area and their stories will be paired with statistics from the 2015 Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness) and historical data in an effort to show how we have managed homelessness in our community and how we might continue to work toward alleviating the issue.

Clients of COTS, the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Homeless Connections and the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities participated in the project. Please visit (In)visible and learn about the experience of homelessness as well as the work of our mission partners in the community.