Stanborough Park Church Hosts Another Community Day
4th October 2018
Raising the profile of the involvement of the Adventist Church in the Watford area was the aim behind another Community Day held at Stanborough Park church on Sabbath 29 September. Coinciding this with the annual Harvest Festival which would see food being distributed to the needy in the local area was an inspired decision by Enoch Kanageraj the leader of the church's Community Chaplaincy department which sponsored the event and led to the Chairman of Watford Borough Council attending during the morning and reading the lesson in Divine Service.
During the day presentations were given by local charities informing the congregation of their work and asking for donations or volunteers to become involved with them. Following a previous Community Day last summer 'Messy Church' decided to support the 'Red Box Project' and a collection box was also placed in the church for donations of sanitary products and toiletries for girls attending local schools who were unable to afford to buy their own. A link was also established with 'Homeless Warriors' which provides food, clothing
etc. to the homeless of Watford. Local police officers usually attend in the afternoon offering crime prevention advice.
Many of the charities represented updated their audience on their activities since their last visit. There were also some that hadn't attended before including the leader of the church's Pathfinder Club, Paula Carrillo, who also gave a presentation. In a bid to help the charities with their work and ensure more efficient use of resources by co-operation and avoiding duplication of resources Enoch has set up the 'One Vision' project where representatives of the small charities are able to meet together to plan and network.
The church has a long-established welfare service providing clothing, household items, toys, books, food etc. to needy cases referred by social workers and organisations such as Social Services and the local branch of the Refugees' Council. Current organiser Pat Walton received the Audentior Award for her work which is much appreciated within the area. Pat also established a weekly 'Soup Run' for the London's homeless more than 30 years ago which still takes a group of volunteers into central London every Friday evening.
It was therefore fitting that before Divine Service recognition was given to Pat's long-standing helper, Norma Lewis, who is retiring after three decades as she has moved away and is no longer able to drive. Norma, who was presented with a gift as thanks for her services to the church, is a Catholic lady who lived in a road adjacent to Stanborough Park. One day she received the church newsletter and spotted an appeal for volunteers to help with the weekly Soup Run for the homeless in London. She had worked in the Lincoln's Fields area and had seen many homeless people congregated there and knew that she had to offer her services. She went along with the volunteers to London for many years.
When Pat took over running the Welfare Service after her father's death (Alf Kelly who was awarded the MBE for his services to the people of Watford) she needed someone to help run the Welfare Centre and her thoughts naturally turned to Norma.
All who visit the centre are accompanied by a social worker or representative of the organisation referring them. Norma says that they are all very pleased with the help given and "some even cry", she says.
Norma's work was recognised in 2011 when she was given the Audentior Award by Watford's Mayor and she was one of eleven 'local heroes' who were nominated for a competition to turn on the Christmas 2014 lights in Watford's Intu shopping centre run by the Watford Observer. She had been nominated by one of her regular social workers but was not disappointed when she lost out in the vote by readers to a disabled child. Norma says that running the centre was hard work but she had met a lot of people over the years and will continue to come and help sort out donations on Mondays.
During the presentation Pat quoted a text she had received from Christian, a regular user of the centre after he had been told Norma was retiring when enquired why he hadn't seen her lately. It said, "I just want to say a big thank you to you and your staff for all the effort and hard work through the year. This is an unpaid exceptional and selfless service. Please bless Norma. I wish her good health and a happy retirement."