The Good Neighbor Behind Our Good Neighbor Network

Karen Tucker had an idea. She wanted to connect new members of our Church community with those who could no longer make it to Church events, either due to illness or lack of transportation. These people had served the Church for years, and she wanted them to remain a part of our Family whether they could make it to Church or not. Lauren Hardin, our Marketing, Communications and Office Manager sat down with Karen to talk about our Good Neighbor Network and it's new component, the Prayer Network. 

KarenTucker2018

LH: Karen, since I’ve been at the Church I’ve seen you lead Christian Action Ministry, run the Tea Room at the Yule Parlor Tea and now you’ve created a new Ministry, the Good Neighbor Network. Is there anything at the Neighborhood Church you haven’t done?  
KT: I have served on quite a few boards and committees. It’s been a wonderful way to get to know other members of our church and I’ve made friendships that have truly lasted over time.

LH: What led you to create the Good Neighbor Network? 
KT: Over the years I’ve seen members of our church family who can no longer get to services or participate in activities.  It’s sad to see once vibrant individuals become isolated or separated from our church due to health issues, aging, or lack of transportation for example. I wanted to start a program that would reach out to them and reconnect!

LH: How did you come up with the name “Good Neighbor Network?” Were there any other contenders?  
KT: Our church name was truly the inspiration and I think everyone understands what a network of individuals can accomplish.

LH: Creating a brand new Ministry couldn’t have been easy. What were some challenges you faced throughout the process?  
KT: It took time to research this type of program and how to initiate it. David Young had great ideas and Mary Ann Friedrich, co-chair of GNN, had participated in a similar program at another church.  They were both instrumental in helping me write the Training Guide and hold orientation sessions for our volunteers.

LH: Now that the GNN is up and running (we have 17 volunteers visiting 20 homebound members of our church family!), what have been some of the most rewarding moments you’ve experienced?  
KT: Listening and learning so much from the beautiful men and women who have served our church in the past. They have amazing stories to tell – where they’ve traveled, who their families are and how they’ve progressed on their journeys.  Sitting with Harry Peck and seeing all his WWII albums and uniforms.  Hearing Betty Larsen tell about her travels on a sail boat.  It’s been incredible!

LH: Tell me a little bit about how the Prayer Network came to be incorporated into the GNN. 
KT: It seemed like a natural progression.  Engaging our faithful church family in prayer for one another.  It follows the model of a good network – a variety of individuals, good communication and a connection to one another.

God promises us in the Bible that he hears every word that we pray to him. Like a good parent, he is waiting, ready, and willing to listen
— Karen on the value of prayer

LH: And what exactly is the Prayer Network?
KT: When someone is suffering, anxious, worried, going through a difficult time in their lives or thankful, joyful and they need to seek comfort, make a request, ask for guidance, heal and restore, express sorrow, celebrate joy or give thanks – they look to God through prayer.  They can submit a prayer request with as much or as little information as they wish, and it will be passed along to all the volunteers in our Prayer Network. Everyone will pray that the request will be answered. 

LH: In such a busy world with so much going on, what is the value of prayer? 
KT: I believe it is a vital part of our faith.  God promises us in the Bible that he hears every word that we pray to him. Like a good parent, he is waiting, ready, and willing to listen to our worries, concerns, and needs. Whether we are seeking forgiveness, strength, or healing, prayer provides the channel to communicate with God.  I believe praying daily as a group creates a spiritual bond between us that strengthens our convictions and love for one another.   I love the quote from Max Lucado, “Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference."

LH: If someone has a prayer request, what’s the best way to submit it to the Prayer Network?  
KT: They can call, write or text the church office, one of the ministers or submit a prayer request online.  If possible, it would be great to hear from the requestor if there is some resolution to their request. 

Lauren Hardin
How an Eagle Scout Helped an Angel Project Reach New Heights
 Above: Angel Donor David Yang with Boy scout Christopher Miller, standing in the Shirley Yang Memorial Garden

Above: Angel Donor David Yang with Boy scout Christopher Miller, standing in the Shirley Yang Memorial Garden

In September 2017, the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees launched the Angel Projects Program, a collection of projects to repair, replace or upgrade various areas on our Church grounds. One of the earliest projects to be adopted was the garden near the front of the Church. Over the past several years, poor soil quality and lack of appropriate irrigation in that plot had turned this 650 square foot garden into a barren patch of dirt. 

David Yang, longtime church member, generously agreed to sponsor the funding of this project in loving memory of his wife, Shirley, who passed away in 2015. Between the two of them, they have served as part of Women's Fellowship, Christian Action Ministry, and the Board of Trustees throughout their years here.

The first stage of the project began in Fall 2017 with the tilling, grading and sloping of the garden-- dirt needed to be sloped towards the driveway to allow excess water to runoff.  A protective barrier also needed to be installed against the Church walls to prevent water damage to the building. An outside contractor performed this work with the help of our Facilities Manager, Doug Falzetti. Once that work was complete, the plot was one step closer to becoming a garden.

Around this time, Christopher Miller, a Boy Scout and member of the Church, ,was in search of a project to earn a design and construction badge toward becoming an Eagle Scout. Christopher and his family have been attending the Neighborhood Church since 2008 and he was baptized and confirmed here. He is active in our Youth Group and also serves as the co-president of the South Bay YMCA Pathfinders Parent Youth Group. Before one of his Youth Group Meetings, Christopher walked around the Church grounds, looking for areas in need of improvement or something that could potentially become an Eagle Scout Project. He noticed the empty dirt plot and realized that, as fate would have it, his project had found him. 

 Christopher Miller and his friend constructing the base of the pedestal for the statue.

Christopher Miller and his friend constructing the base of the pedestal for the statue.

After coordinating with Doug and our Angels Projects Committee, Christopher agreed to take on responsibility for designing and constructing a significant portion of the garden. He, with other Scouts, would install a stonework pathway and construct a pedestal that would be the central feature of the garden. His father, Loy Miller, donated the building materials for these items.

So, the dirt had been tilled, the land had been sloped, the irrigation had been installed and the brick had been laid... but what about the plants? 

Laurie Jester, longtime Church Member and landscaper extraordinaire, agreed to create a layout for the garden using a mix of water-wise plants and climbing vines to grow up the trellis that would fit in with the Church's current landscaping while creating a unique visual experience. 

 Laurie Jester's initial map of the garden. Laurie made sure to include drought tolerant, water wise shrubs in the layout as well as incorporating Palos Verdes Stone for the walkway. The majority of these plants were donated and installed by GS Brothers, with additional landscaping provided for by David Yang's Angel Project Sponsorship and Christopher Miller's Eagle Project. 

Laurie Jester's initial map of the garden. Laurie made sure to include drought tolerant, water wise shrubs in the layout as well as incorporating Palos Verdes Stone for the walkway. The majority of these plants were donated and installed by GS Brothers, with additional landscaping provided for by David Yang's Angel Project Sponsorship and Christopher Miller's Eagle Project. 

 Doug Falzetti and Laurie Jester helping out with the planting of plants and flowers in the garden. 

Doug Falzetti and Laurie Jester helping out with the planting of plants and flowers in the garden. 

While Laurie set to work designing the garden, Doug performed some final work on the irrigation system. One March Friday, he was out in the garden working on the sprinkler system when a valve burst and sent water spilling out into the driveway. We placed an emergency call to our landscapers, GS Brothers, who stopped by immediately to assess the problem. They noticed the work Doug was doing on the garden and asked him what the plans were for the area. When Doug told them, they offered to donate the plants and labor to finish the garden!

A week later, on March 16, GS Brothers returned with a truck full of plants and flowers. Together with some plants donated by Chrstopher and those purchased with David Yang's Angel Project donation, the garden was planted.  That weekend, Christopher and the Scouts returned to finish up the planting and install the lattice and trellis for the climbing jasmine. Through a number of small coincidences and the hard work of many, the Shirley Yang Memorial Garden was fully planted and ready for Easter Sunday.

A special thank you to everyone who worked so hard on this project!

If you would like to learn more about Angel Projects, are interested in sponsoring one, or have one in mind, please contact the Office

Lauren Hardin