October 24, 2014

Church floods shelter with volunteers

When Fellowship Bible Church announced an upcoming work day at a Miami County homeless shelter, organizer Dennis Hickey expected 40 to 60 people to sign up.

Anne Oswald of Olathe, right, and Christie Hoffman of Edgerton prepare lunch for the residents of My Father’s House as Hoffman’s daughter, Chelsie, observes. Submitted photo

But when the Oct. 16 day of service actually arrived, more than 100 adults and teenagers from the Gardner congregation turned out to spruce up the facilities and grounds of My Father’s House Community Services in Paola. It was, by far, the largest group from a single organization ever to volunteer at My Father’s House at one time, according to executive director Jay Preston.

“Previously we had 53 as our record, and I understand FBC brought 116,” he said. “The group was amazingly organized and had an incredibly joyful attitude as they worked.”

Throughout the day, volunteers painted hallways, bathrooms and offices.

During a recent work day sponsored by Fellowship Bible Church, Norm Castle of Gardner frames a closet door at My Father’s House in Paola. Submitted photo

They fixed holes in walls and ceilings, repaired countertops, replaced tile, and hung mini blinds. They laid carpet, hung doors and sheetrock, and inventoried the entire facility. They cleaned windows, planted a row of 17 trees, renovated and installed planting beds, and spread gravel in the parking lot.

In addition to these and other projects, FBC’s children’s ministry provided a morning of activities for the kids living at the shelter, and women from the church prepared a meal for the residents.

“Seeing the number of people who worked, the different skills they brought to their tasks, the diversity of the participants (and) the enthusiasm of everyone was overwhelming,” said Hickey, FBC’s pastor of ministry development.

FBC member Dana Copp serves on the board of directors at My Father’s House. The recent work day grew out of conversations with her about how FBC might assist the Paola ministry, but it also was part of an intentional, ongoing effort to encourage people who attend FBC to look outside the walls of the church for service opportunities, Hickey said.

“We hoped that with exposure and such an effort, they would gain a vision and desire to do so regularly, not just in Paola but around them,” he explained. “Already individuals are saying how they want to return to continue to help the facility. That was our ultimate goal—a change of perspective on our people’s part.”

Many from FBC will get their next chance to assist at My Father’s House on Thanksgiving Day, when volunteers from the church will prepare and serve a holiday dinner to the residents at the homeless shelter. Church leaders announced this latest service opportunity on Sunday, Nov. 14. A day later, 34 people had already signed up to help, Hickey said.

If funds for materials can be secured, the church also hopes to return to Paola in the spring to reroof part of the facility, Hickey said.

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