United Congregational looks to continue community efforts

Feb. 7, 2023 | Trent Levakis

Rebekah’s Closet inside of Holyoke’s United Congregational Church.
Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis

HOLYOKE – With the new year underway Holyoke’s United Congregational Church continues to welcome the public to check out Rebekah’s Closest, as well as their free Community Dinner and Family Movie Nights event.

Rebekah’s Closet is a mission outreach to young families in the area seeking support providing for their infants and toddlers. There young families can browse through and receive diapers, wipes, clothing, books and sometimes furniture as they become available through donation. A parent in need may come once a month with a letter from a social service agency. There is no charge for any of the items.

Hours for Rebekah’s Closet are made by appointment only. Parents must call the church office at 532-1483 in order to arrange for an appointment. No walk-ins will be taken. On the day and time of the appointment, they can come to the door at 300 Appleton St., ring the bell, and be welcomed in to “the closet.”

Rebekah’s Closet coordinator Paula Thouin said she calls the closet “a store without a cash register,” and hopes more young parents are able to hear about the resources available through the closet.

“We like to have the mothers and fathers we see to be able to shop around because what I might think is a pretty outfit someone else would say I would never put that on my child,” Thouin said with a laugh.

Thouin noted parents interested need a referral letter from their church, pediatrician, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or whichever agency they are connected with to be accepted to be a part of the program. The church always covers a pack of 12 diapers per child as well as a package of wipes for each family. Everything else available for interested parties is through donations.

Outside of children and babies’ clothing, the closet also carries canned goods if families are in need and also offer things like baby baths, or pack and plays as well as other items. Rebekah’s closet carries clothing from size preemie to size 6x.

The free Community Dinner and Family Movie night is every second Friday of each month and can see up to 60 people at a time according to Thouin. Dinners start at 5 p.m. before the showing of a movie at 6 p.m. This month’s community and family event will be on Feb. 10.

This month’s dinner is grilled cheese and tomato soup. Popcorn, snacks and drinks will all be available for the movie following dinner. In November turkey was the dinner and December was ham. Children must bring a parent or responsible adult.

Thouin hopes Rebekah’s Closet and events like the community dinner and movie night expand the church’s outreach within the community.

“We want to bring people into the church, so they know this big brown building is not an empty building. It’s alive and a lot of good things are happening here,” Thouin said.

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