From ongoing "hands-on" efforts, to financial support of important and diverse agencies, to "face-to-face" encounters through annual trips to a variety of destinations to work with partners in mission, "The Church at the Center'" strives to live out its faith in ways that incarnate compassion, intercultural understanding and social justice. Once a month for nearly a quarter-century members of First Church have provided meals for the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen in Danbury. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina ( 2005 ), nearly 200 boxes of clothing were collected and sent to New Orleans, along with thousands of dollars worth of gift cards that were distributed by the pastor of St. Matthew's United Church of Christ, New Orleans. Volunteers from the congregation have rolled up their sleeves, brought along their hammers and participated in Americares Projects in Danbury, Redding and Norwalk. Vetted through Americares, vital repairs were made to homes owned by low-income or elderly neighbors. Members and friends have packed their bags and journeyed farther a field to work with fellow Americans in the healing of our nation. Trips to Americus, Georgia ( 1999 ), Orland, Maine ( 2000 ), Appalachia ( 2002 ), and New Orleans ( 2007 ) have seen our church team up with local service organizations to build or repair homes, learn about another region of our nation, and deepen the fellowship ties of our congregation. Since 2001, our congregation has traveled to the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica to cultivate partnership with the Boscobel United Church. Projects have included putting the roof on an educational classroom of the Madge Saunders Conference Center and creating a beautiful mural for the central meeting room ( 2001 ), breaking ground with our partners on the first permanent sanctuary of the Boscobel congregation ( 2003 ), and collaborating with our Jamaican friends to build several Habitat for Humanity-style homes, pouring the concrete flooring of the new sanctuary, assisting with a Vacation Bible School for neighborhood children and teaching swimming lessons ( 2006 ). In 2003 and 2005, our partners from Jamaica visited Redding and shared in worship with us. Our Outreach Committee disperses funds to support of the mission work of the United Church of Christ, and organizations including: the Bridgeport Rescue Mission, the Association of Religious Communities in Danbury, Christian Community Action in New Haven, the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, Regional Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Hartford Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School.