The Open Table is a national organization which began here at PVUMC by Jon Katov and others. Its mission is to reach out to the marginalized and mentor them so they learn the necessary skills to navigate life. A group of 6-10 people surround a struggling young adult, veteran, homeless person or family to guide them back on their feet to independence. It usually takes eight months to a year for this journey. It is truly putting God’s love into action and embracing all people. PVUMC members have served on approximately 20 tables since Open Table began, with five tables launching in January, 2018 or later in the spring.

Recently, we filled several Open Table spots to support five young adults, including Illario, a 20-year-old student who emigrated from Guatemala when he was 16 years old. Regional culture dictated that Ilario work with his father in the coffee industry rather than pursue his education. Guatemalan tradition requires that the youngest male child stays with his parents and work versus pursuing his education. Ilario’s work permit expires in November 2019 and he desperately wants to attend college while here. We are thrilled to announce that his table is ready to launch following the addition of new members who are willing to support him on his journey. God answers prayer and our members respond to the call for help — every time. Thanks be to God!

The other young adults who we currently support via Open Table are:

Feza, a 21-year-old African refugee. Feza and her family endured 18 years in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Her family had been forced to flee the Democratic Republic of the Congo after many people in her family were killed in the war, including her grandfather. Feza is the proud mother of a 6-month-old baby boy named Alonda Carlos. She graduated from Genesis Academy High School in 2017 and is currently enrolled at Gateway Community College.

Heather, a 23-year-old young lady who was raised by her grandmother because her mother could not remain drug free. There is no father. She is a highly motivated young lady, raised in Phoenix, & is looking for support and life skill teaching to succeed. College is a dream & goal.

James, a 24-year-old who grew up in the foster care system and needs support to become independent. With a high school diploma and some special needs, he can succeed with relationships that encourage him and build his self-esteem.

Jonae is 19 years old and recently completed her high school requirements. Due to her parents’ divorce and lack of structure at home, Jonae lost focus which delayed her graduation. With determination and commitment, she stayed after school frequently to get caught up on her skills and credits. Jonae is currently working at Subway, averaging 32 hours a week. She plans to start college in January 2018. She wants to succeed in life through education but there are many hurdles due to poverty and lack of stability at home. Jonae has a goal to become a photographer. Although she knows her mother loves her, she doesn’t have the support to move forward with her goals. Her dream is to be the first in her family to graduate from college. (We need 6 Table members.)

Diego turns 18 in January. He fled from the drug cartel violence and political turmoil of Chihuahua, Mexico to pursue his dream of finishing high school and eventually going to college. Although Diego was born in the United States, he was raised in Mexico for most of his life. Diego came to the US last July, shortly after the death of his father from Cancer. Diego’s mother simply could not afford to take care of Diego and his little sister anymore. Diego wants to be a police officer or dental hygienist, however, Diego struggles with meeting his daily needs while staying in school. Recently he lost his part-time restaurant job due to the restaurant’s slowdown in business.

PVUMC serves as one of the leaders in The Open Table movement. We are always seeking those who wish to serve on a table. Contact our Open Table and Lay Leader, Kent Heltne, kheltne@cox.net to serve on a table and sign up for training. Or email Pastor Brenda for more information about how to get involved in this ministry.

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