Pictured above: Erika Church wears her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and holds a certificate presented to her on Nov. 13 for her work with Matthew 25.
A long-time NC faculty member with a strong spirit of giving and dedication to helping people in need has been recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
Academic Studies professor Erika Church was recently presented the prestigious medal by MP Niagara West-Glanbrook Dean Allison. She was one of 30 citizens honoured at a special ceremony held in Grimsby at the Casablanca Winery Inn on Nov. 13.
Church was honoured with the medal for her work with Matthew 25, an organization she founded 10 years ago that distributes household necessities to those in need.
She recalls how it all began. A family new to Canada approached her with an urgent need for household furnishings.
“They had nothing,” says Church. “I emptied my home of duplicates – furniture, sheets, towels, etc. Anything I didn’t have, I bought and gave it to them.”
Word of Church’s work spread. Over the years, immigrants from many countries around the world – Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Congo, Burindi, Burkino Faso, and Estonia, to name a few – have arrived in Welland over the years seeking assistance from ‘Miss Erika.’
As news about Matthew 25 spread, so did its outreach. Church notes that although the organization began helping newcomers to Canada, it branched out to include anyone in Niagara with limited resources – including students at the College.
MP Allison called Church in early November to notify her that she had been nominated and selected to receive the medal. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal was created in 2012 to pay special tribute to the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. Sixty thousand deserving Canadians will be recognized during this year of celebrations.
Church says she is truly humbled by this honour.
“I think of my mother and father (passed away) who taught me at a young age to look outward … to recognize and respond to the needs of others. I am the extension of their heart,” she says. “However, one pearl does not a necklace make; I share this honour with many good people at Matthew 25. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal also honours them.”
While she is honoured by the award, Church seeks no recognition for her work, noting that Matthew 25’s work has always been done quietly “as unto the Lord.”
“We are approached with pressing needs, and with God’s help, we meet the need,” she says. “Beds are provided to people who are sleeping on the floor. Mothers in difficult situations have a home. People out of challenging circumstances are equipped with the necessities. Apartment rooms are furnished. A house becomes a home.
“Hope is restored.”
Church notes that people from the NC community have been supporting Matthew 25 over the years.
For those who would like to donate items, Matthew 25 is always in need of dishes pots, pans, coffee tables, end tables, lamps and beds. It also currently needs a covered trailer with a ramp and door at the back to help transport more goods.