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article imageOp-Ed: Two sisters sell their designs to feed the hungry, in gratitude Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 4, 2014 in Business
Sonoma - Sisters Pam Arnold and Kim Courier love to make jewelry and both have been doing so for decades. Yet even with the struggles they have faced, they still make time to donate their time and crafts to help feed the hungry of their parish and community.
"Some of the proceeds of what we sell here goes to the hungry children outreach of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church of Windsor," said Courier. She and older sister Arnold consider it an honor to help raise money to help others.
"My sister and I have survived stroke and cancer, more than once, said Arnold, God has been good to us and so I think it is only right for us to give some thing back or 'play it forward' as the saying goes."
Both she and Courier spoke openly about their faith. "I have always been a Catholic, said Arnold, raised my children in the faith and we have been part of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish for years," she said.
Orignal designs are what sisters Pam Arnold and Kim Courier make for clients. Yet they also believe ...
Orignal designs are what sisters Pam Arnold and Kim Courier make for clients. Yet they also believe very strongly in the power of prayer and charity outreach. They both like to raise money for charity, like the hungry children outreach program at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church of Windsor, CA.
Both women did not mind the hot sun which baked the sidewalk that August 30 in front of Lucky supermarket at Maxwell Plaza in Sonoma. The wide array of their hand-crafted jewelry shimmered in the sun. "We are here for today but hope to be back here two weeks from now, selling our designs and raising money."
These are just some of the dozens and dozens of designs that sisters Kim Courier and Pam Arnold have...
These are just some of the dozens and dozens of designs that sisters Kim Courier and Pam Arnold have made. "Once we finish making a batch or a specially made set, that's it, we don't make any more," said Arnold. "Because, she explained we like to custom make all our designs with each one being 'one-of-a-kind' as much as possible."
Arnold noted about the times she was diagnosed with cancer and each time she survived it. She claims it was mostly through prayer. "This last time I just told the doctor, I think your wrong and I know I will be healed, all will be alright," she said. What doctors thought was a malignant tumor turned out to be benign and they removed the tissue.
"I have survived a stroke more than once," said Courier. But both sisters were more concerned about Chase Courier, Kim's son and Pam's nephew. "He was born with a cyst on the brain and doctors had to operate on his skull," said Courier. As a result Chase has scoliosis, which at 16, he as struggled with all his life.
"Chase makes the parachute cord bracelets. It is his contribution and its something to help lift his spirits and to keep him busy, because his condition causes much pain," said Courier. She and Arnold are grateful for all the prayers and kindness Chase has received. "People are basically good, said Courier, there are lots of good people in the world."
Fr. Angelito Peries, former pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe would agree. "The food outreach program at the parish has been going on for six years now, he said. And, it is because of the dedication of parishioners like Pam and Kim that the program can continue." "I must say, that in their own way they do as much as they can to help. And, I can also say that both Pam and Kim have their own sufferings, not just with health problems but with financial loss and foreclosure, they know hard times. Yet, they manage to be so generous sharing whatever they have to give to others."
Kim Courier s 16-year-old son Chase  makes bracelets from parachute cords.  It helps build his self-...
Kim Courier's 16-year-old son Chase, makes bracelets from parachute cords. "It helps build his self-esteem and lift his spirits," said mother Kim and his aunt Pam. Chase has been suffering from scoliosis and other serious conditions since birth. Despite the difficulties in their lives sisters Kim and Pam consider themselves blessed and very fortunate, especially since they have survived strokes and cancer more than once.
Fr. Peries went on to explain. "There are about 7,000 families in Our Lady of Guadalupe and the parishioners help feed approximately over 250 people (families) on a weekly basis," he said. "Now, keep in mind everything that is done is coordinated through the parish council and a host of many people donating their time," said Fr. Peries. "I could not do any of this all by myself, he said with a laugh, and besides, the parish council and others would not permit it." The spirit of cooperation is essential in any outreach to any community.
Fr. Peries now serves as a pastoral counselor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Calistoga. While he has stepped away from the work of the food program at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Windsor, he keeps in contact. And, as he said, "just because I am in a smaller parish in a resort town like Calistoga, I am not retiring, not yet. I am just as busy here as I was in Windsor.
He has faith the food outreach will continue. And, he also wanted to point out that the food outreach at Our Lady of Guadalupe serves every family in need. "That means people who are not part of the parish, not Catholic or Christian or believe God, etc. We just want to help meet a need," said Fr. Peries.
The parish works through The Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa and as Amy Schaner, the program manager at the food bank confirmed, "yes for six years now all the food Our Lady of Guadalupe Church receives is from our food bank."
She noted that Redwood Empire Food Bank distributes food and that includes fresh produce, to over 78,000 people every month in five counties as far north as the Oregon border. Two-thirds of the distribution is given direct from the food bank to the people. "And, a third of our distribution is done by partnering with organizations and groups like Our Lady of Guadalupe, Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army and many social services and senior centers."
While Fr. Peries said that he was inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta to push for the parish's outreach to the hungry, "I must express my gratitude to God and to so many, many people who helped to make the program happen." He mentioned Fred and Peggy Furth, "they donated $10,000 to the food bank to help get the parish outreach started."
"But you know and can imagine that $10,000 dollars, even a million dollars, does not last long when feeding the hungry," he said. Yet, despite obstacles the parish manages to raise $1000 or more each week to feed the hungry. "And mostly focused on the area of Windsor, so many families struggle and many are ashamed to ask for food."
Schaner agreed as she said, "that is very true, since I have worked here in this area I have seen so many families, hard-working families struggle and they are least-inclined to ask for help."
"I used to think food banks were just about the homeless, she said. But now I can see it is more about families, some of whom the parents are working two and three jobs just to pay expenses. The cost of living keeps rising and rent is high."
Fr. Peries, sees the same, as he pointed out, "the wine country is a lovely place and you hear people refer to it as a 'paradise' with restaurants, shops and hotel/resorts." "But these struggling families are the ones who help attend to everyone's needs," he said. "They work in the fields to pick the grapes that make the wine, they wait on tables to serve us our food, tend to everyone's lawns and backyards and they clean houses." "Just about everywhere you go when someone needs to be served or attended to, it is from among these hard-working people."
"It is easy to over-look them, he said. Or become short-sighted as they are often referred to as 'migrant workers,' but they are here and they work so hard for everyone. Why should they and their children go hungry?"
In one of the most affluent areas of the United States and in one of the must lush agricultural areas, Fr. Peries and others consider it shameful that these people must go without food. "They need to eat healthy food, not junk or fast food, after all they are the ones who help harvest the bounty, they should also share in it and be healthy."
Food is distributed every Saturday at Our Lady of Guadalupe of Windsor. "Groceries are bagged up and distributed every Saturday morning in the parking lot behind the church (unless it's a holiday)," said Barbara Stevens, the parish food outreach volunteers coordinator.
For more information visit the web site. Or, call the parish office at 707-837-8962, "leave a message and, we'll get in touch with you," she said.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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