RON HARRELSON SHOWS MADDIE SCHAFER HOW TO DIG A TRENCH
Brenda Harrison Editor
While many are staying cool indoors this hot July, a group of youth and adult volunteers from St. John’s Church braved the heat last week for a project at the House of Hope men’s shelter. St. John’s youth minister, Charlotte Smith, organized this project to build a large chicken coop and prepare the soil for a future vegetable garden on the property of this homeless shelter in the Elim Community. Mission Florence is an annual summer outreach project for St. John’s. This year’s outreach also includes East Florence Mission. The purpose of the project at the men’s shelter is to help the residents establish a sustainable garden where they can grow food for the home and to sell at a local market.
At the same time, the volunteers are building relationships and demonstrating Godly principles, such as sowing and reaping, Charlotte explained. Ron Harrelson served as project manager for the chicken coop project. Male residents not out working joined about 30 volunteers each day, stripping down an old wood storage building on the property and recycling the lumber and screws to build the chicken coop. St. John’s supplied chicken wire and other supplies to complete the project. A local farmer tilled the area for a garden and sprayed weed killer. He promised to come back and till it again for fall or spring planting.
In the meantime, the volunteers helped the men establish a container garden. “We appreciate everything the community does for us, but this is the opportunity to take part in providing for ourselves,” commented Bryan Braddock, executive director of the House of Hope of the Pee Dee. “It is following the principle of teaching a man how to fish as opposed to giving him fish. “St. John’s is helping us get the ball rolling toward sustainability,” he added. “It’s awesome helping these guys here,” commented teen volunteer Maddie Schaefer. “We are meeting people and building friendships. You don’t want to be a stranger to someone you are working beside,” she explained. “Our youth group at St. John’s is a community and we’re Florence, so we’re just helping our community.”
Emma Ries said volunteering her time this summer “makes me feel good inside knowing I’m helping others.” Another young volunteer, Eddie Buckhouse, described the project as “awesome. Helping people gives me a good feeling,” he added. Smith said her church promotes the Biblical teaching of giving your time, talents and treasure. The Mission Florence project offers the opportunity to do all three. The House of Hope of the Pee Dee is a Christian homeless ministry. It operates a women’s shelter on Darlington Street, a men’s shelter in Elim and The Mission Mart, a resale shop in Hallmark Plaza on S. Irby St. “The House of Hope’s mission is more than housing.
We want to help residents get the skills to live independently,” Braddock noted. Mission Florence at House of Hope took place on July 8-10. The next step is to acquire chickens. Once the men get hens, the vision is to raise eggs and hopefully create income for the residents, said Smith. The youth minister encourages other youth groups, Sunday school classes and civic groups to get involved in this or other projects at the House of Hope. If interested in exploring volunteer activities for your group, or if you are willing to supply chickens, contact Bryan at 667-9000.