During the past two years, I have been fortunate to serve on two Open Tables for two amazing young women. On the first table, I served together with a group or table of 6-7 other PVUMC members. Together, we mentored and supported Laura, a 19-year-old who had recently aged out of the Arizona foster care system. When we met her, she was living in a group home facility called Home Base. Our table helped her receive her GED and worked with Arizona Pathways to enroll her in Gateway Community College’s surgical processing and tech program. We relocated her several times, and received an outpouring of furniture donations and financial contributions from the PVUMC congregation in response to our requests for furnishings and other items for her to begin life in her new home. Now, Laura is ready to graduate from Gateway, and has a job at St Joseph’s Hospital in the Decontamination Department. We have been blessed to watch her grow into a mature and confident young woman, and continue to be there for her as her family; she will always be our sister in Christ.
The second table I serve on surrounds Jenny, a 22-year-old from the Child Protective Service system. My tablemates and I have helped Jenny deal with numerous health issues and recently relocated her to an apartment made available through Tumbleweed, an organization in Phoenix that serves homeless youth and young adults. With our encouragement, she enrolled in the medical assistance program at Phoenix-based Brown-Mackie College, and plans to graduate in a month. Jenny has had some difficult personal issues, and has received counseling through Tumbleweed. She is currently job hunting, and we continue to love and support her as our sister. We build our relationships on trust in each other and in God. Now we are family. Serving on Open Table blesses all the participants, not just the recipients. If you are interested in getting involved, and serving on Open Table, please talk with me or contact Kent Heltne.
— Peggy Howard, PVUMC Open Table Member
Brenda Smith New Arizona Leader for Open Table
Rev. Brenda Smith has added a new position to her current duties. She will be the Arizona Leader for Open Table. This is separate from her part-time staff positions as the Children’s Ministries Director and Young Adult Lifegroup Coordinator. Brenda reports to the Open Table founder, Jon Katov. In this role, she networks and communicates with churches in Arizona to aid and strengthen the Open Table model through sharing of resources, ideas, and communication so that they can learn and grow together for the betterment of our brothers and sisters we serve. Since PVUMC is ground zero for the beginning of this model, the PVUMC Open Table committee and mission leader, Kent Heltne, will partner with Brenda to help pioneer new ideas for strengthening the churches role and support of the Open Table Model. Rev. Brenda says, “The Open Table model is the best ministry I have seen that truly follows Jesus’ example. It is about building relationships with those we serve as well as supporting someone in poverty to help them reach independence. It is about truth and love. My hope is that most of the PVUMC congregation will serve on at least one table.”