Local church helping the needy

Local church helping the needy

For the last 10 years, a sign has hung outside of the Riverview Assembly of God Church in Oildale offering food those in need. But recently, the sign attracted a different kind of group looking for their own kind of help.
For the last 10 years, a sign has hung outside of the Riverview Assembly of God Church in Oildale offering food to those in need. Recently, the sign attracted a different kind of group looking for their own kind of help and it's kickstarted a new partnership to help those in need.

The church sits on May Street, about halfway between the Kern River and Beardsley Avenue. It's an especially poor area, and it's what helped the church get noticed. In both good times and the bad ones, the Riverview Assembly of God Church has been helping the poor.

"The first Wednesday of the month there might be only 25 people here, the last Wednesday of the month, there might be 125 here. And it builds from that first Wednesday," said Pastor Terry Murtagh.

Those who attend the Wednesday service don't leave empty-handed.

"After the service, we provide a hot meal, groceries, clothing, and toiletries for those who need them," said Murtagh.

A bit of a bonus to what the sign outside says but, about a month ago, it was the sign that grabbed the unexpected attention of the Kern County Homeless Collaborative.

"I was just driving around and there's a very prominent banner out front that says 'free lunches on Wednesday' and I thought, ok, maybe we can talk to them about doing something together," said Louis Medina with the Kern County Homeless Collaborative.

The partnership began last Wednesday that brings food together with community outreach groups to help get people on their feet.

"They can also be accessing information about how to get housing, how to get employment training, how to get veterans benefits, etc.," said Medina.

The church's location is an ideal spot to offer assistance. About 20% of the people in attendance are homeless and the rest are at high risk of losing their home.

"This they're great because I can get some food stamps now or something because I don't have any income at all," said John King who is at risk of becoming homeless.

Together, they are bringing help to those in need so one day they can one day help themselves.

"We live in America and no one should really be homeless in America. We have the resources here to house everyone," Medina said.

The next outreach event scheduled at the church will be on Wednesday, December 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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