Our mission and service teams get involved in issues such as education, poverty, hunger, shelter, healthcare, equality, transportation and more at the local, national and international levels.
Local Mission Projects
We engage with the local community in a variety of ways through not-for-profit organizations and projects. If you see a group or project that interests you as you scroll through the list, please contact the leader about how to get involved.
ESTHER: Empowerment, Solidarity, Truth, Hope, Equality, Reform
ESTHER is an interfaith, nonprofit, grassroots organization that builds community and works on justice issues focusing on the Fox Valley and Oshkosh through the following task forces:
Primarily addressing the needs of the Latino population, this group considers both the comprehensive national picture and local issues such as driver’s licenses and higher education.
This task force addresses issues impacting public transportation in the Fox Valley area and Oshkosh.
This group strives to reduce the number of people in county jails and state prisons by supporting safe community alternatives such as treatment courts, encouraging humane treatment of people, and supporting individuals as they return to their communities.
A new group has formed in 2019 to organize around issues of environmental justice.
Visit esther-foxvalley.org for meeting locations and times.
Contacts: Sara Companik
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat aims to eliminate substandard housing for low-income families by working in partnership to build simple, affordable homes. First Congregational participates in building crews, provides financial support and has joined in the annual Interfaith Builds since their inception in 2012. Carpentry experience is welcome but not required! There are many options available to interested volunteers, such as registering workers, providing food for workers or assembling housewarming gifts.
Contact: Tim DeHart
LEAVEN (Limited Emergency Assistance Valley Ecumenical Network) is a volunteer, community-based nonprofit organization that has pursued its mission of care and service since 1987. Individuals and families need support and assistance when they are in a financial crisis to prevent them from slipping into greater poverty, homelessness, and ill health.
LEAVEN helps stabilize and empower these vulnerable households by providing financial assistance, resource coordination, and case management to address their near-term and long-term basic needs. Assistance is provided for housing, utilities, transportation, health insurance, diapers and other basic necessities.
The LEAVEN Community Resource Center provides comprehensive, integrated services under one roof, connecting people to programs and services provided by fourteen partner organization. LEAVEN bridges the gap between hardship and hope, while helping people transition from crisis management to self-sufficiency.
Contact: Kiara West
Pillars Adult and family Shelter (formerly Homeless connections)
In late 2018 the Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Homeless Connections and the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities merged into a new organization that will be known as Pillars. Pillars Adult & Family Shelter provides a safe temporary shelter and guidance for adults and families in the Fox Valley. Approximately 75 people are sheltered each day. In addition to financial support, First Congo has stayed actively involved in Pillars, with members of the congregation volunteering in the yearly “point of time” count, serving meals, working the front desk and performing various other miscellaneous services. The largest activity has been participation in the E2F (Empty to Full) Pans program. Since is its founding in 2011, First Congo has provided approximately 1260 pans of food.
Contact: Cindi MacSwain
Pillars Adult Shelter (formerly fox valley warming shelter)
Pillars Adult Shelter welcomes homeless men and women into their facility, where staff and volunteers address guests’ basic immediate needs of food, shelter, and personal care items. Case managers work with clients to identify individual goals to become self-sufficient, as well as plans to meet those goals. Clients are connected to other service organizations, including health care, financial coaching, and educational services to further assist them in becoming self-sufficient. Our congregation provides meals and volunteers for 1 week during each calendar year. The Shelter capacity is currently 55-60 persons.
Contact: Amy Lewis
Plant-a-Row for the Hungry
The community garden project provides fresh produce for the St. Joe’s Food Pantry. During the 2019 Plant-A-Row Season, 1,900 pounds of produce were grown and delivered to St. Joe’s Food Pantry. Produce that was grown included herbs, kale, carrots, peppers, cabbage, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and zucchini. The produce numbers were low due to the new garden location and heavy rain fall. In past years, the produce numbers were around 4,000 pounds. The garden was relocated from Dave and Cindy Cook’s property to behind St. Joe’s Food Pantry off Midway Road in Menasha, WI. An 80 foot by 200 foot prairie land was converted to the new church garden. A new shed was constructed by Lyle Van De Hey and all garden tools and tomato cages were moved. Bennett Vanderloop constructed a fence in late August as part of his Eagle Scout service project.
Plant-A-Row garden project was founded by Dr. Jack Harris, who was committed to providing fresh, nutritious food to people in the community who are struggling. Volunteers are needed to grow seedlings, plant, weed, harvest and deliver produce. The volunteer commitment is needed on a weekly basis for one to two hours.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
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.
Check the Mission & Service Calendar for the next meeting.
Contact: Helen McKean
Project NOAHH’s [Neighbors Offering a Helping Hand- a partnership between community members and Outagamie County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to assist DHHS clients meet their unmet needs] mission is to improve the quality of life for children and families involved with DHHS. Among other things, they build bunk beds and provide mattresses and bedding. This is a positive way to build camaraderie while working together to fulfill our mission to serve others in our own community.
Contact: Pat Hauser
Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley
The Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley 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, fundraising and special projects is sometimes needed. Financial support opportunities are also available.
Contact: Tom Tatlock
Each spring (usually June), 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!
Check the Mission & Service Calendar for this year’s Service Sunday.