When a group of Westminster churches formed a coalition to serve less fortunate members of the community, the Westminster Police Department was immediately on board.
Called “Love Westminster,” the coalition is composed of churches, community groups and the Westminster Police Department, working in partnership to do exactly what the name implies – provide love through action.
Most recently, Westminster Police Department joined Love Westminster for a holiday shoe drive at Hope Community Church, providing roughly 50 pairs of new Vans sneakers to children from low income families.
The Westminster Police Officers Association (POA) donated $500 for the event.
“We represent Westminster and I feel like we need to be out there to support families, especially during these times,” said Detective Marcela Lopez, Westminster POA board member.
Homeless liaison officers Nicole Brown and Roland Perez, and Commander of Special Operations Kevin MacCormick were also on hand for the event.
“This is a side of law enforcement that most people don’t see,” said MacCormick, who oversees the homeless liaison team. “This is something these guys do every single day. People say this is a feel-good event. Well, it feels good for us, too. These kids are now going to go back to school with a brand new pair of shoes, who otherwise wouldn’t be.”
A collaboration among churches and the police department is an effective way to serve low income and chronically homeless residents, Brown said.
The officers on the streets are often aware of specific needs and can go to the coalition to fill those needs.
“We just try to make sure that all the communities that need assistance have the same channels getting to where they need to get to,” said Paul Park, pastor of Free Life Community Church in Westminster. “If we know which church is giving food on a Monday and shoes on a Tuesday, we would have a database, which the homeless liaison officers have access to. We’re trying to make a little network so that everybody that’s here gets what they need.”
One church, for example, hosts a laundry day, providing quarters for chronically homeless individuals to wash their clothes.
Perez recently reached out to the coalition to find out which churches were serving meals on Thanksgiving.
“A lot of the faith based (groups) are already doing things for the homeless so it’s one of those things that maybe can meld together,” Brown said. “Whether it’s the food, showers, hygiene kits, (and) those kinds of things, it’s basically a way to bring all those different resources to one place so that we can also help.”
On Dec. 23, church leaders partnered with Brown, Perez and MacCormick bringing hot meals, jackets and hygiene kits to homeless citizens.
The meals were provided by Bracken’s Kitchen, a nonprofit provider of food to the less fortunate, based in Garden Grove.
The Westminster School District provided the church with a list of the district’s neediest families, said Pablo Pena, lead pastor at Home Community Church.
While the police department wasn’t directly involved in the shoe drive, their presence at the event was meaningful, Pena said.
“They’ve been a huge support in sponsoring families,” the pastor said. “I let the families know that the police department loves them and that they sponsor them too and that they know that they’ve got skin in the game as well.”