Mission Focus

Second Quarter Mission Focus:  Ryan's Case for Smiles

South Bend, Indiana Chapter smilessouthbend@gmail.com - Shannon Jenks, Coordinator
Who we are:  We are one of the few organizations solely dedicated to helping sick and distressed children coping with life-changing illnesses, injuries, and family situations feel better.

Mission Statement: Ryan’s Case for Smiles mission is to enable children with cancer and other life-changing illnesses to cope with their illness today, while building resiliency to thrive in the future.  Feel better to heal better.

What we do:  We provide whimsical pillowcases for an emotional boost to children to remind them that they are not defined by their situation. The pillowcase softens a sterile white hospital environment.  A simple gift of a pillowcase provides proven stress relief including a cheerful distraction for the well-being of the children and their families.

Why we began:  Cindy Kerr made the first pillowcase for her son, Ryan, who was receiving chemotherapy after a malignant tumor was found following a bicycle accident.  More than a decade ago, in 2002, Cindy sewed the pillowcase to brighten her son’s hospital room.  Even though Ryan is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through Ryan’s Case for Smiles.  The nonprofit was formed in 2007.

What we know:  Being hospitalized or in a shelter can be a terrifying experience, especially for a child.  Recent research has shown that 20% of children who suffer from cancer and 30% of their parents suffer full symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  These rates are comparable to our U.S. veterans who fought in the Vietnam War. Promising research shows stress can be minimized and a simple pillowcase can provide seven proven stress relievers for emotional well-being.  Ryan’s also provides resources to support the entire family @ http://copingspace.org

(Comfort, Distraction/Play, Choice/Control, Familiarity, Expression, Connection, & Hope)

Why we exist:  With every stitch, every yard of fabric, and every pillowcase, we get one step closer to our goal of helping children to feel better to heal better and faster.

Our work by the numbers:

Nationally:         120+ chapters with thousands of volunteers; Over 5 million volunteer hours;                   75,000+ children at 363+ hospitals annually; Over 2,000,000 pillowcases delivered & still counting

Locally: 30+ volunteers and growing since September 30, 2019; Over 2,400 pillowcases delivered in the past 12 months; Annual hospital and organization needs – 5,000+ pillowcases

Serving:  Kosciusko Community Hospital, Parkview Hospitals – Warsaw & Columbia City, St. Joseph Hospital, Mishawaka, Beacon Memorial Children’s Hospital, South Bend, A Rosie Place Hospital, South Bend, The Beaman Home, Joe’s Kids, & Strengthening Families

Annual budget - $58,000 – sources – grants & in-kind donations (fabric and financial)

Value:  Priceless

Donate here and select the MISSIONS fund.  Your generous support is greatly appreciated!

Community Kitchen & Closet

Drive-thru Service until further notice

Community Kitchen Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Community Closet Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed 1st Wednesday)

The Community Kitchen and Closet has been changed to a drive-through service.  Patrons should arrive between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each Wednesday and remain in their vehicles.  Pull into the alleyway between the church and Lake City Bank.  Please come from S Indiana St into the ONE WAY alley. A helper will greet you there at your car and provide you with one sack lunch per person and closet supplies for your household. Please stay in your car and we will serve you curbside!

First United Methodist Church has a long history of serving a soup kitchen out of the Fellowship Hall at our downtown campus.  For many years, that meal was served on the last two business days of each month.  In early 2009, we discerned a change in the needs of the community and began serving every Wednesday.  We have a number of other churches and community groups who partner with us to make these meals possible.

The Community Closet was opened in the fall of 2009.  Items that are not covered by food stamps (toiletries and cleaning products) are offered as they are available. Contact the Church Office if you are interested in supporting this ministry with your time or donations. Cash donations may be made at the Church office.

Women's Group – Deborah Circle

We are currently collecting recipes for our Recipes for Life Cookbook!  Please visit the link below before August 1st using the log-in Deborah Circle and the password is whisk008

You can log onto this link and enter your most beloved family recipes into the site to submit for consideration for the cookbook!


Pre-order your cookbook today by emailing Maureen at maureenmauzy@gmail.com - cookbooks are only $10 and will make great gifts!

A new UMW group is offering opportunities for spiritual growth, mission giving, social action and vital discipleship during these difficult times.  Our community of women’s purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church. We strive for love of God and neighbors. All are welcome; it is not necessary to be a member of United Methodist Church.  Monthly digital meetings, until further notice. Interested?

Please contact Kathie Votra (260) 568-0977 or kvotra1@gmail.com