St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Forest Hills to be honored for their work in homelessness

st lukes
Photo courtesy of Queens Community House

For the past 15 years, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Forest Hills has partnered with Queens Community House to tackle homelessness in the area.

After almost two decades of dedication, the church will be recognized at QCH’s Annual Celebrating Local Champions Reception on Wednesday, May 2, at the historical West Side Tennis Club.

“We always have someone in mind [for the award] and Saint Luke’s was an obvious candidate,” said Jennifer Weil, the communications coordinator for the Queens Community House.

Weil added that St. Luke’s mission is unique in that it aims to be an interfaith organization that is extremely involved in the community, which was one of the deciding factors for the organization to honor the church.

Reverend Thomas R. Reese, rector for Saint Luke’s for the past 19 years, will attend the reception on behalf of the church, and said he is both “honored and humbled” that Saint Luke’s is being recognized. Father Reese said that the church has partnered with Queens Community House by donating to their food pantries and providing gifts to families with children during the holidays.

Photo courtesy of Queens Community House
Photo courtesy of Queens Community House

The donated food goes to one of two pantries: one is dedicated to emergency use and is open to people in special cases, such as those who have suffered domestic abuse. The purpose of this is “so that women and children can have access on a short-term basis,” according to Father Reese.

The other food pantry is open every Wednesday during “regular hours” and is open to anyone who needs it.

Father Reese estimates that about 50 to 60 people in the congregation make donations to QCH during the year, but the number of contributors can reach up to 100 during the holiday season.

Another aspect of the work that St. Luke’s does is the holiday toy drive, during which the church and QCH gives wrapped and labeled gifts to children whose families are in need.

“A lot of feedback I get is that it takes the burden off of [families] during a stressful time of year,” Weil said. She adds that the donations from the toy drive is “huge for parents” and takes away their financial stress, since the money they save can be used for other necessities.

When the church started running the toy drive, Weil estimated that it helped about 30 families. Currently, Father Reese said that gifts are donated to about 100 to 115 children yearly.

Photo courtesy of Queens Community House
Photo courtesy of Queens Community House

Queens Community House will also award Adolfo Steve Vasquez the Queens Community Builder Award. Vasquez is the founder of Queenscapes, a community-based organization that works to provide photography programs for schools, businesses and other organizations.

The honors will take place at the West Side Tennis Club at 1 Tennis Place from 6 to 8 p.m.