May 29, 2018, 9:19 AM

On the Beat: Chicks in Crisis Field Trip

By Brenda Pfau

Lois Anderson, Hayley Sharpe, and JoAnn Vice went on a recent outing to Chicks in Crisis to deliver donations from St. Mary’s.  Chicks in Crisis is a nonprofit that has helped mothers and fathers in our community with adoption, parenting, and educational services for the last 20 years. It was exciting for these St. Mary’s members to see the charity up close, both its operation and how the donations are put to use. Our church’s donations have included items for which Chicks in Crisis has a desperate need: formula, diapers (especially newborn and sizes 5 & 6), wipes, bibs, bottles, rattles, clothes, porta-cribs, and high chair seats.

Lois, Hayley, and JoAnn spoke with Gloria Benavides, the Program Coordinator. Gloria was able to highlight the wonderful work that Chicks in Crisis continues to do after its founding by Inez Whitlow, who still serves as the founder, president, and CEO. Inez had set out to decrease the number of babies entering the foster care system and those abandoned by pregnant teens and women. The work continues today by offering a full-service crisis pregnancy prevention program. Chicks in Crisis can be found in local high schools, medical clinics, juvenile hall, Sacramento County Jail, and state prisons. They also work closely with CPS, hospitals, and foster care social workers. Chicks in Crisis supports more than 400 mothers and fathers every month with prenatal care, life skills training (e.g. parenting classes, nutrition classes, cooking classes), parenting assistance, clothes, emergency food, baby supplies, and legal guidance.  Chicks in Crisis also mentors and supports parents who are trying to further their education and job training so they can better provide for their child. The aim is to help parents to become self-sufficient.

Chicks in Crisis relies on money raised through public donations, fundraising events, and adoption services in order to operate. This is why the help of St. Mary’s members is greatly needed and appreciated. The “baby gift” collections by St. Mary’s at Christmas time and monetary donations continue to support the valuable work of this charity.

Some St. Mary’s members may remember Shirley, the founder of Grandma’s Hugs. Shirley helped provide homemade blankets and bags to children whose living circumstances were unsure.  Chicks in Crisis was one of the beneficiaries of Shirley’s stitching gifts before Shirley passed away. However, Shirley’s good work does not have to end.  Lois Anderson is calling on those interested in continuing to make the drawstring bags to contact her.  She has the instruction sheet and can show anyone interested how to stitch the bags. 

Lois, Hayley, and JoAnn were impressed by the dedication of both Gloria and Inez. The visit left all three St. Mary’s members even more motivated to support the work of such an important charity that directly serves the parents and children in our community.


May 17, 2018, 12:00 AM

On the Beat: St. Mary's at the Western Festival

To spread the word about what’s happening at St. Mary’s, I’ve invited Brenda Pfau to be our reporter on the beat. I hope you’ll join me in looking forward to brief articles from her about how St. Mary’s is influencing our people and community. There’s so much to celebrate and share!

To this first article, I’d like to add my thanks: Norm DeYoung, Diana Siers, and most especially Scott Siers made this year’s volunteer experience a good one, making sure folks were well prepared for their work. Woo-hoo! –Rev. Anne

Pictured: During a slow moment at Gate 2, our volunteers got a great view of a helicopter demonstration as it lifted off. 


St. Mary’s at the Elk Grove Western Festival

By Brenda Pfau

This year marked the 60th year for the Western Festival here in Elk Grove, and St. Mary’s was there to help. For many years, St. Mary’s members have assisted with the festival’s parking. It is a relationship that benefits both St. Mary’s and the festival. This year, thirty volunteers from St. Mary’s staffed each entrance of the park and collected fees.

Scott and Diana Siers did an awesome job recruiting the needed volunteers to work. This year, Diana started recruiting even earlier than usual, which resulted in many hands to help. And, every volunteer was sent a handwritten thank-you card expressing St. Mary’s appreciation for their time and effort. However, we want to thank Scott and Diana for all their work, past and present, which have made our efforts at the Western Festival a success. We also extend a big thank you to Carol McElheney for the hours and help she devoted to assisting our volunteers working the gates. There were a couple small glitches as would be expected, but for the most part, the shifts went smoothly.

Our volunteers had an opportunity to interact with the Elk Grove community in a positive way. Also, because volunteers are frequently paired up at each gate, St. Mary’s members had the opportunity to visit and get to know each other as well.

A final thank you from St. Mary’s to Norm DeYoung, a member of St. Mary’s. As General Chairman of the festival, he is actively involved in planning, organizing, promoting, and running the Western Festival. His efforts to make the event a success cannot be understated. For those who have not yet volunteered at this event, we hope you will consider joining in the fun next year.