Hello. My name is Erica Dallas and I have been a member of Bentwood Trail Presbyterian Church (BTPC) for almost ten years. I am currently serving a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) year through the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Austin, Texas, and I will be completing my service at the end of July. My YAV year has altered my perception of how we, as Christians, can be more accepting, patient, and tolerant of those who are different than we are and with those whom we associate. I have spent my YAV year working for an organization named Keep Austin Fed, which was started in 2004. Keep Austin Fed gathers surplus perishable food from national and local grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and catering businesses. From there, within about an hour’s time, Keep Austin Fed volunteers, using their own cars, transport the excess, free food to local non-profits that serve people in need, including people who qualify as low-income or homeless, as well as people who live in rehab facilities, domestic abuse shelters, and low-income elder care housing. We are similar to the food bank, which gathers mostly non-perishable food, except that we specialize in fresh food. While we do not have a brick and mortar building, refrigerated spaces, or national recognition, and our organization may be small in size and number, we are powerful in the actions that we are taking. Since 2014, when Keep Austin Fed started keeping track of the weight of food collected, we have collected over 3 million pounds of food. Not only is this having a positive impact on feeding those in need, but it also helps the environment by reducing the greenhouse gases produced by food going to waste.
I am so blessed to have had this YAV experience. Through it I have come to see Texas, and the world, through a different lens. People, whether they are Christians or not, can interact and live in community with one another to benefit of the greater good. The support of Bentwood Trail and all of its members is something that I will always cherish. Your support and prayers prove how much our congregation truly cares and helps one another. I think that what the PC(USA) Church and BTPC stand for, and the work that we do, not only with our funds, but with our hands, speaks volumes about what we, as a denomination, think is important in the community of Dallas, the State of Texas, and of the entire world. We, with the Holy Spirit as our Guide, are helping God’s world to be a better, more loving place for all of God’s creatures. We can share our love and ourselves, not only with those who are like us, but with any individual who seeks someone to love them, to sit with them, and to listen to them as we, in turn, share the Truth about the unconditional love God offers each of us.