The congregants of the First United Presbyterian Church have a history of providing meals for their community. Every Monday night is a free meal to anyone who needs; Christmas day is a meal for up to 700 people and throughout the year there are a variety of fundraising meals for different organizations such as Habitat for Humanity…and AHOPE for Children.

In 2005, one of the church elders, Rich Sgarlotti, went to Ethiopia with his daughter to bring his granddaughter home. In preparation for the trip, Layla House suggested that supplies be brought to AHOPE Ethiopia. First United Presbyterian Church was able to raise enough funds for the purchase of 150 pounds of supplies – that’s three fully packed bags! Since then, AHOPE has become a mission for the congregants at First United Presbyterian! Around Easter each year, Rich puts on his chef’s hat and spearheads his team in creating true Ethiopian fare. Recipes found on the internet are adapted to accommodate local ingredients. The meal is an annual fundraiser to support the work being done at AHOPE. In addition, the church made a commitment to sponsor an AHOPE child. This sponsorship began after Rich returned from Ethiopia and they have watched their youngster grow up – their sponsored child is now living in Independent Living and attending school daily. Updates on their sponsored child is posted on the bulletin board for everyone to see.

It is the congregants continued support of AHOPE that makes them our AHOPE Angel this year. They earned their wings, so to speak, when they hosted Mengesha Shibru during his visit to the United States. Mengesha and his brother were welcomed to the church where Mengesha spoke briefly during the service. At a luncheon following, Mengesha was able to talk more about the work being done at AHOPE, how our kids are doing and showed our AHOPE video. The luncheon also served as a fundraiser where donations were made and items created by our families were sold.

All of us at AHOPE for Children and AHOPE Ethiopia are very thankful to everyone at First United Presbyterian Church, staff and congregants alike. Heartfelt thanks to our dear friend, Rich Sgarlotti, Pastor Mike March and Mary Jean Larsen; your support and dedication are greatly appreciated.