Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, general president of the Primary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, were in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, February 27, 2015, to visit a food pantry and medical clinic of Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange (GRACE), a faith-based, nonprofit relief agency. GRACE provides food, clothing and other emergency assistance to people in need in northeast Tarrant County.
Sisters Wixom and Reeves were impressed with their visit to the location where the needy receive food assistance, counseling on budgeting and menu choices, health screenings and other medical services.
“I have come to know compassion for others is synonymous with the community of Grapevine, Texas," said Sister Wixom. "At the heart of that compassion is the GRACE mission led by Shonda Schaefer. I was not prepared for the feelings I would have as I witnessed a community of people of different faiths and organizations eagerly coming together to personally meet the needs of the individuals and families among them who are in crisis.”
“It was wonderful to see the obvious alliance between GRACE and the LDS Church, as well as many, many other churches and organizations,” expressed Sister Reeves. “They have a tremendous organization of volunteers, but beyond that, many community people who freely give of their time and means to mentor people in business [and] offer transportation, pharmaceutical products and many other services and products. There is a great opportunity for payback, and many who participate in different areas of the many programs that are offered often come back to GRACE to volunteer and give back.”
“We are a Christian organization with a call to respond to God’s grace by helping those in need,” said Shonda Schaefer, executive director of GRACE, who led the tour. “GRACE is a partnership with local churches, businesses, civic organizations and many individual volunteers.”
John Elieson, a member of the Church and president of the GRACE board of directors, attended the meeting. Local Mormon congregations and missionaries also provide service to GRACE, including ongoing volunteering at the food pantry.
In the food pantry, clients meet with a counselor to assess their needs. They are then given a voucher with a dollar amount based on their needs assessment and they shop in the pantry, where they are taught how to make good spending decisions and food choices. Items in the pantry are priced as they would be in a retail store.
Other resources offered by GRACE include transitional housing assistance and case management to help individuals and families become self-sufficient. There are also volunteer programs to feed children lunch in various locations throughout the community. GRACE was organized in 1987 as a response to the growing need for emergency assistance services in the area, similar to the bishops’ storehouses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located all over the world.
Sister Wixom oversees the Church’s Primary organization for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years. Sister Reeves is part of the leadership of the Relief Society, one of the largest women’s organizations in the world, which provides support for the temporal and spiritual needs of the women of the Church.
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