Well, friends, we are through Day Two of our January SOWER project and I thought I’d give you some insights into how this month is shaping up. First, the ministry where we are serving. To say that Lake Wales Care Center is a ‘multi-faceted’ mission is quite the understatement. What began as a clothing closet and food pantry in 1985 has grown to include family services and resources (short-term financial assistance and tangible resources such as clothing, food and furniture), transitional housing (support for homeless families while they work through a structured program to “get back on their feet”), a free health clinic (a valuable resource to community members without health insurance), a pregnancy care program (providing support and appropriate services for women facing unplanned pregnancies), Holiday assistance (where parents can come and shop for their kids), tutoring (all ages and ESL), financial counseling, life-skills counseling, home repairs assistance done through a “Stay at Home Mission” program with local youths, and because they don’t seem busy enough, they have also started a community garden.
Yesterday (our first day of work) we met the director at one of their locations, and he gave us a walking tour of their different buildings in town (offices, warehouses, bookstore, “Christmas Store”, etc.) and then took us on a drive to show us their different transitional housing options. I have to tell you, it took my breath away! They also have two large thrift stores which along with generating needed income for this ministry, also provides quality items at reduced cost to the community. Phew.
With our heads still spinning over the breadth of this ministry’s positive influence in this community, we loaded into our own trucks and headed north to where we would be actually spending our working days – their new(-ish to them) 36,000 square foot building in Dundee which houses their second thrift shop and more donations than you can imagine!
The guys are building massive shelves in the back
(Can you see how they’re already filling the shelves even before the guys are done with the section! Crazy!)
And after a two months of painting and one month of siding installation helpering, I’m happy to report that we ladies are working in the thrift shop. (Yes, I’m pretty happy about this!).
We’re sorting through donations, putting them on hangers, delivering them to the correct sections in the store and then when we need a change of pace, we head to the ‘floor’ and “police” the racks to keep them neat and in order. It’s a big job, friends, but someone has to do it!! Of course the biggest challenge is not filling up my own basket with items to buy. This could be a very challenging month, indeed!
We’re working with one couple we’re very fond of and have worked with before and one couple who are on their very first project. So fun! This project is a little different since we’re not parked right at job site (and in fact have about a 30 min drive to our Thrift Store), but so far even with the travel time, it’s been a wonderful experience. God is at work here in Lake Wales, for sure!
Oh, and Gary found a car wash that’s just off the road from our drive to and from work, so he signed up for the monthly pass. So we’ll be havin’ a shiny truck all month too!