A Testimony of Provision
Ten months after our 100-year flood which was devastating, our second 100-year flood hit us again. A call went out for help. People and groups from all over called and scheduled relief trips. The mission at the time was capable of housing about 100 people. We had over 275 volunteers each week for five straight weeks. One week we had 313 people. Where do we house all these people?
The public school system was just taken over by the state and renting their buildings was becoming difficult. We stopped in to talk with the principal of Welch Middle School. He was very busy and was quick to say that he was not having anyone stay in his building that summer. We then made our way to the superintendent’s office. He was so busy that we ended up talking to his assistant who said we could use the Welch Middle School. He said "Just tell the principal that it was approved." Welch Middle School become our base of operations for the summer of 2002.
While driving up Virginia Ave on the way to the school one day, as I looked up at the building, I asked God if it was His will to provide that building for the mission. I asked Him to make it obvious that it was from Him, I will never forget in November, 2002 I received a call from Mayor Martha Moore. She asked if we would be interested in the Welch Middle School. I said yes, but told her I had to get board approval. The timing was perfect, Our board met the next day and approved. The day after that the school board met and agreed to deed it over to the city. As much as I appreciated Martha and the school board, all the credit goes to God. He answered the prayer by providing the building.
The building is old and big. We had our hands full from the moment we received it. We moved in on March 23 rd, 2003, which happens to be my birthday. We had a five-year plan for rehab. We were not sure where the funds would come from but we knew God would provide. Nine months later we completed the five-year plan. You know who gets all the credit, right?
Fourteen years later, we are still overwhelmed. It is what it is but what most people do not consider is that this monstrosity is a testimony to God’s provision for the mission, the community, and for His Kingdom. A lot of ministry has taken place here and as a base for ministry out there. We don’t romance the building but we do romance Our Provider.
We are not sure what God has planned going forward. We do not know if this building is a part of that plan or not. What we do know is where He guides, He provides. We have enjoyed the journey thus far and the journey continues.
The Fatherhood Initiative Project is led by the WVU School of Public Health in partnership with MIECHV (Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visitation) from the WV DHHR. The researchers interviewed parents enrolled in Parents as Teachers and staff to get feedback as to how to better support and engage fathers in their role in raising
up their children. We are pleased that in our PAT program we see a significant percentage of fathers are active
in the lives of their young children. We want to encourage, empower, and support their role as a father in
what we do as Parent Educators. Thank you WVU for supporting us in this effort!
Shannon Pace had the privilege of attending the Rural Higher Education Conference in Daniels, WV. She learned ways to bring more opportunity to youth in McDowell County. Discussion of the Community School model was emphasized as a means of advancing rural educational goals. Shannon has already made connections to partner with Welch Elementary as they begin implementing the Community School model this coming 2017-2018 school year. Reconnecting McDowell has been supporting the Community School model which involves community partners, resources, and services. Southside K-8 in War has completed the transition to a Community School and they are looking at River View High School next year as well. Shannon excitedly relays that, “Now is the time to start collaborating even more with local officials, principals, and families to ensure a brighter future for our children!”
Rural Education for all of Appalachia
Reading, storytelling, and music. These are three things Parents as Teachers (PAT) has included as crucial for early years of childhood. PAT has always encouraged reading but more recently have honed in on storytelling and music. Research on the topics have shown that children who spend time reading, singing and storytelling are more ready for school than those who do not. Storytelling resonate with us because it’s something we all experienced in daily life as we talk with our families about our day, recall past events, or tell jokes. It permeates through all societies and binds us together. And as one storyteller explains, it even has the power to transform the teller.
Parents as Teachers has looked into the importance in early childhood development of the effects of storytelling in all its different forms. During the last few months they have increased their efforts during home visits to encourage that form of interaction in daily life. We all hope to also encourage existing models of hubs for storytelling, and the interaction from person to person it provides. Here we highlight another place has also been prominent in helping children discover a love and appreciation for reading, storytelling, and music; the library! What if you added a couple of awesome, passionate librarians to the mix? You would put school readiness on steroids!
Chessie Hatfield is the daughter of Kat Davis, one of PAT’s home educators with The Community Crossing. Chessie cherished the McDowell Public Library growing up, and the library was a significant reason for her love of reading today. After high school she began pursuing a degree in psychology, was hired by the library, and is continuing in her studies. The longer she works with children the more she falls in love with them. Today she is helping with story hour, and Kathy Hornick is in charge of the children's department.
Kathy Hornick grew up in McDowell County. She went to work at the department of education and has always taken an interest in early childhood. Within the last few years she started coming to the story hour with her granddaughter and then came on staff. Chessie and Kathy work together to facilitate other events as well.
The parents who bring their preschoolers to story hour value these group activities for the little ones. They want a place for their children to find friends, and also a place to connect with other parents and grandparents. The library is an important place for children and our county as a whole is better because of it.
Check out more of Sherrie's fantastic work on Facebook!
In addition the library has a weekly coloring club for adults. What a delight to join in, these ladies are caring and warm, kind and just great fun to be around! They have found friends and a place of belonging at the library,
McDowell Public Library has become a hub for connection with the community through all the programs they facilitate. Every year they have a summer reading program for all ages of children. Story hour has increased in participation, and in addition to the coloring club, there are two book clubs.
Last month at story hour for ages 2-5 the WIC office staff came to read and do an activity with the kids. They had strawberries and talked about healthy eating.
They also have regular events such as visiting storytellers and characters. Mark Twain came last month and told many stories to a group of 15 kids. Captain America came with Unicare to talk about summer safety out in the sun. They handed out sunglasses and talked about the importance of sunscreen. As one librarian aptly put it, today children are inundated by the digital world. They benefit greatly by having an environment where they can focus on social interaction, learning from books, hearing stories they can resonate with, and ultimately feel true connection with people and have a place to belong.
Last month a local high school student asked Lesa Wilson if she would teach photography. Lesa agreed and is very excited by the opportunity. They are now meeting every week to work on the principles and art of great photography,
Blessings come in so many ways and affect people differently. Even when we pray for blessings our expectations encompass a wide range. Sometimes blessings overwhelm us by surprise. Over the past 17 years we have watched God pour His blessings over our home repair ministry, as we welcomed thousands of individuals who have come to serve, repairing countless hundreds of homes. There are three parties to this blessing: The Short-Term Missionary, The Homeowner, and the Organization that brings them together. By their own admission, the Short-Term Missionary says they are blessed more than the Homeowner. The Homeowner would say they are blessed having physical and often spiritual needs met. Many times this is a time of blessing for the Organization bringing these parties together as they appreciate the short term missionaries’ sacrificial giving and seeing critical needs met.
This past week was a time of abundant triple blessing!
Spirit of Joy Church from North Carolina has been serving McDowell County once or twice a year through The Community Crossing for the past 21 years! This year we had four work sites with ample opportunity for blessings realized by all. One team helped patch The Community Crossing’s 10 year leak in the roof and helped with the food outreach at the Methodist Church in Welch. The team at the second site installed insulation, drywall, built stairs with railing, and made a safer pathway from the road to the house.to dramatically improve conditions for a single mother/grandmother. The house was painted white and the homeowner proudly stated that she could now say that she “lives in the White House.” The team at the third site repaired a roof, ceiling, bathroom, and hole in the floor, and built a portion of new stairs and railings. These were necessary repairs to create a safe home for a family with a mom, dad, two girls, and one to be born any day!
The last group was unique in that it consisted of “missionaries-in-the-making.” These are children too young to join the work sites, but eager with willing hearts and hands to help in any way needed. They enjoyed devotions, crafts, and service work. Our Baby Pantry received a much needed facelift following hours of cleaning and organizing with a whole lot of TLC. We serve over fifty families in our Parents as Teachers program and the Baby Pantry is their “store” where they can obtain free products using the Baby Bucks they earn in the program.
God has overwhelmed us all by His blessings this week. Each party has claimed the greater blessing. This is cause for all of us to rejoice! To God be the glory!
A Perfect Storm
The Community Crossing can do so much more with your help. We are very fortunate to have the Parents As Teachers grant through WV DHHS, however the grant does not cover the cost of our key supportive ministries:
Home repairs to ensure children have a safe environment
Black Diamond boxing club to encourage fitness and discipline in youth
Men's basketball and other community sports for all ages
Support and resources for entrepreneurs in our county
Healing for drug and alcohol addiction - presently we are praying for the development of an effective ministry
Would you prayerfully consider giving
$30, $50 or $100 per month
in support of Community Crossing?