Sunday, July 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Little church with a big heart opens arms to community

samoan church giveaway_1

Loleatha George, left, and Msqueonna George, right, receive food Friday from the Samoan Christian Fellowship church in Fairfield. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | April 05, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD —  Friday was Plan B day at the Samoan Christian Fellowship church on Western Street.

The rain and darkened skies were the dictator.

It’s food give-away, or feeding day – twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays – and it’s usually done outdoors but, said Leinati Tomanogi, leader of the Helping Hands Ministry, because of the weather, the tables of food in shopping bags or plastic crates were moved indoors.

Canceling the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m event was not an option. It wouldn’t be in the spirit of the church that prides itself on reaching out to the community and helping in any way it can. One of the church’s beliefs is, “God is the provider of everything,” Tomanogi said. They’re just paying it forward.

“The more good you do for others, it will come back to you,” she said. “We’re joyful in our heart. We’re able to help (people) in the community who need help.”

The close-knit church family of about 90 members opens its doors twice weekly as a food bank of sorts – and one Saturday a month for hot meals under its Helping Hands Ministry.

Friday, the line started as usual, before they opened. Tomanogi said they’ve given away food to as many as 240 but it averages about 180 on the days they’re open. Those in need go in five at a time, picking up a couple of bags of bread items, milk, sweet potatoes, apples, broccoli and some packaged food items.

Nicole Whitecotton juggled two bags of bread and some milk before moving on to the perishables in plastic crates. A former pharmacy technician, hard times fell after her husband left her, she said. She has four children, including newborn twins.

“Places like this have helped me and my children get by,” she said.

But it wasn’t easy for her to seek out help. She called it a “pride thing.”

“I was always able to do it on my own,” she said. “You never know where you’re going to end up in life.”

The friendly faces of the volunteers also help Whitecotton in other ways – from simply praying with her to helping her carry the food to her car when she was pregnant. They begin to forge a bond – those in need and those doing the helping.

“How are the twins?” said Tapai Asiasi, to Whitecotton as she maneuvered her bags to get some milk.

Building relationships is what they want to do, said Ben Afisivalu, the church’s secretary.

“It’s like family,” he said as he stood in the doorway watching the volunteers and community members interact. “We’re very humbled to be able to be an instrument of help to the people of Fairfield.”

The desire to help was always there – the pastor, Alex Ledoux, had an idea, a vision, of what he wanted the church to become – but not the ability back in its humble beginnings in Ledoux’ s garage in 1995. It started with five Samoan families after Ledoux moved from Fremont in 1994.

Belle and Alfred Levi were with Ledoux back in the beginning – and they’re still with him today, some 19 years later.

“It was very hard to get things started,” Alfred Levi said.

The community outreach began in 2009 when a tsunami hit Samoa. Afisivalu was put in charge of the relief effort, which attracted the Bay Area television news that helped spread the word through the community. The church sent eight 40-foot containers of relief supplies to Samoa. Subsequent tragedies brought on by Mother Nature in Chili, Haiti and the Philippines brought in more donations to be distributed to the affected areas.

“Since then, more companies were willing to donate their goods to help us meet the needs of the community,” Afisivalu said.

The ministry continued and two years ago the twice-weekly feeding program began and the church partnered with agencies such as Walden House, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, Mission Solano and Feeding Sacramento.

The church also does a hot meal on the second Saturday of every month, donates turkeys to Mission Solano each Thanksgiving and adopted Laurel Creek Park, tasked with keeping it clean. They also will randomly visit the homes of senior citizens to mow lawns and take out garbage. They’ve opened their church location to people who need a place to live. Those who need food at times other than Wednesdays and Fridays, will be helped as well.

“The pastor will never turn anyone away,” Afisivalu said.

Both Belle and Alfred Levi volunteer on the feeding days, and were there Friday. They acknowledged the fulfillment of the pastor’s dream as they looked out at what has been accomplished with the dozens of volunteers helping the community – about 1,000 community members receive services from the church’s various ministries each month.

“This was always our pastor’s vision – to help out the community and what Jesus says,” Belle Levi said. “Help . . . who needs help. This is a blessing. It feels good.”

Alex Ledoux was in Samoa at the time the article printed and was not available for comment. Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • leinatiApril 05, 2014 - 10:52 am

    We praise God for using us as vessel to reach and help His people. Thank you daily repulic for awesome job on the article. All the praise and glory goes to God. God bless!!! Leinati Tomanogi

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

It’s a small world, after all, in Galen Tom’s photos

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
County urges weed abatement

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Cows graze unusual Rockville park location

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 18 Comments | Gallery

 
Why today’s kids are such lazy sloths

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 17 Comments

 
Military service a family tradition

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Where are the Christians?

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3, 27 Comments

 
Kairos Family BBQ a success

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
‘Rosie’ the Shelby Mustang arrives at Jelly Belly

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Families camp out in Vacaville

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

Trends in state, around town remain positive

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Famous Creations comes to downtown Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 2 Comments | Gallery

Move toward higher drug co-pays gains steam

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

 
County graduates complete basic military training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

Fairfield police log: July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

US evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Utah couple, 78 and 80, wed at nursing home

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Scientists unlock secrets to boost metabolism

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C4

 
California can’t say if it’s meeting drought goal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Northern California wildfire destroys 5 homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Promises of easier nuclear construction fall short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Plane hits truck as it lands on Nevada highway

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Israel says it’s extending Gaza truce for 24 hours

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

American doctor in Africa tests positive for Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

Stop the insult of Native American people

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 18 Comments

 
Who’s cold-hearted?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

Bad week for representative government

By Glen Faison | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
City’s PLA vote sets up wait-and-see scenario

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for July 27, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoons: July 27, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Batson off mark in recent column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 7 Comments

 
We’re bordering on madness

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Skip comparisons with Mexico

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9, 3 Comments

.

Living

Roaring ’20s-themed weddings have all that jazz

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Community Calendar: July 27, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Today in History for July 27, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Comfort dog will join Grand Island church

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes for July 27, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
What can I do to get my brother to keep in touch?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Texas Book Festival gives sneak peak at authors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Another author boosted by ‘Colbert Bump’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
A troubled teen in flight from a nuclear meltdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

‘Up the Down Staircase’ writer Kaufman dies at 103

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Kershaw throws 2-hitter as Dodgers beat Giants 5-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Courtney, Brittany Force No. 1 qualifiers at NHRA Sonoma Nationals

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Raiders have high hopes for rookie Khalil Mack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Giants acquire righty Jake Peavy from Red Sox

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Martin wins Stage 20; Nibali set to win Tour, with 2 Frenchmen on podium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Indians advance to league championship game

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

Mudcats win in extra innings

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

 
Gray wins 6th straight, A’s 4 HRs beat Texas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Baseball HOF cuts election eligibility to 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Bocce Team results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Ty Dillon races to 1st career Nationwide win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Hall call: Thomas, Glavine and Maddux enter shrine

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Torre, Cox and La Russa manage their way into Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Jim Furyk opens 3-shot lead in Canadian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Kevin Love withdraws from Team USA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Son: Joe Paterno feared wrongly accusing Sandusky

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

Pets’ amenities rising trend for homebuilders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Small talk: Fair Trade brings big sales and a clear conscience

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Argentina debt talks deadlocked as default looms

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Recalls this week: high chairs, cribs, bar stools

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

After hybrid success, Toyota gambles on fuel cell

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Lester Buster

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Marvan Russell Voshall

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ertha H. Reed Jr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Mary Spingola Stagnaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics