When the shelter-in-place order caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was announced in March, Denise Clark immediately shut down her two restaurants.
But the wife of Bishop Kenneth L. Clark, pastor of Word Assembly Family of Churches located at 1445 -23rd Avenue in East Oakland, never slowed her roll.
The owner of the Palace Café and Niecy’s Catering instead simply turned to serve the needy, a role that fits in her commitment to Oakland’s Front Line Healers.
Denise and Pastor Clark, natives of New Orleans, provide 125 hot lunches a day for the homeless encampment on Mandela Parkway and serve breakfast at the church from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
“We’ve been serving the community for over 25 years and we have a love program that feeds the community thanks to a partnership with Operation Dignity,” she said. “We also provide meals to essential workers at Kaiser, Summit Oakland, Firefighters, Le Chabot Dental office, UCSF surgery department in San Francisco and the Superior Court downtown.”
Word Assembly is a gathering center for the most vulnerable in the Black community.
Before COVID-19, Word Assemblys popularity with the community was due to critical services they’ve provided to the area for decades.
Word Assembly brotherhood organization serves as a bridge for young men recently incarcerated by mentoring and teaching life skills every Tuesday evening at 7 :00 p.m. and at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
The women’s ministry offers parenting and self-esteem classes on Wednesday evenings beginning at 7:00 p.m. They also conduct relationship classes the second and fourth Sundays from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m., providing different classes regarding marriage, parenting, and single lifestyles.
“Everything we do, our Sunday breakfast, our classes and outreach are paid for through the tithes and offerings at our church. We have a unique youth program at 10:00 am on Sunday’s but it’s not your usual Bible class. We teach different classes determined by different age groups and interest.”
Word Assembly serves Sunday breakfast from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. The service starts at 10:00 a.m.
Clark serves as administrative director at the church and her New Orleans cuisine at her café located on the church site is a special treat for essential workers and the homeless.
“I closed my café due to COVID but wanted to keep serving the community so I started a grab-and-go service. We’ve been doing this since March 23rd,” said Clark.
Clarks contribution to Oakland in fighting the pandemic is recognized as a vital component of the Oakland Front Line Healers organization.
OFH, consists of 26 nonprofits that also include the James A. Watson medical clinic and ROOTs medical clinic in East Oakland. Call OFH for the following services: food, PPE, domestic violence issues, assistance for the recently incarcerated/recently released, and victims of human trafficking.
Oakland Frontline Healers’ hotline phone number is 510-353-3900. Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., seven days a week.