TR Spirit of Jacksonville June 2016READ ONLINE
Hope for the Homeless expands to Cabot areaOriginally Published October 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 2, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
CABOT — Though helping others isn’t new to the members of the Hope for the Homeless ministry, made up of churches in the Cabot/Jacksonville area, the volunteers are looking to help more people in their own backyard.
The ministry plans to expand its services to the Cabot community.
When the ministry began in March 2012, members traveled every two weeks to the Broadway Bridge in downtown Little Rock to deliver food, clothing, toiletries and a caring attitude to homeless people who live in the area.
Maria George, the director of H4H, as it is abbreviated, said the Cabot ministry will begin Oct. 26.
After seeing more than 200 homeless people in Little Rock, George realized there was a need for a ministry in Cabot.
“There are two homeless camps that we know of,” George said.
Not only are there homeless in the area, many people who are at or below the poverty level are classified as “working poor.”
“It was time that we branched out and started a branch in Cabot,” George said.
To kick off the Cabot division of the ministry, H4H will hold its first homeless and needy campout from 5 p.m. Oct. 11 until 5 p.m. Oct. 12 in the parking lot at A Woman’s Place Pregnancy Resource Center. Attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food, toiletry items and clothing.
George and fellow members of Fellowship Baptist Church in Cabot, along with members of other churches in the area, started H4H with an idea from the young-adult Sunday School class.
It became a way for them to become involved with a ministry.
“Once we got down to the Broadway Bridge, [we realized] there was such a need for help,” George said.
The group gave out sandwiches, blankets and pillows to those in need.
“We started out giving away 80 sandwiches,” George said.
As many as 50 volunteers give out 240 sandwiches every two weeks, along with toiletry items, clothing and haircuts each month.
Each time George interacts with the homeless, she said she realizes how grateful she needs to be for everything she has.
“We have so much in our society,” she said. “We can go out and purchase anything we want, and they have nothing.”
She said the thought of living life as a homeless person is devastating.
Her favorite part of ministering to the homeless is when she doesn’t see the same faces standing in line for a sandwich on Saturdays.
“I love the success stories,” George said.
She said it’s satisfying to hear stories of people who have been helped, are able to support themselves and no longer come to the Saturday events under the bridge.
Curtis McElroy started helping with H4H in March. He helps any way he can, including preparing items for the homeless in Little Rock.
He said his outlook on life has changed since becoming a volunteer with H4H.
“You get to see lives changed before you,” McElroy said.
Inspiration is one payback McElroy gets from volunteering with the ministry.
“[Volunteering] teaches me to be thankful for all of the blessings I have, and be thankful for my beautiful family that God’s given me to care for,” he said.
His volunteerism is teaching his children to be grateful for all they have.
“When [my kids] see pictures, these people are truly in need,” McElroy said. “Their perspective changes about what they ask Dad for.”
“It’s very important for [people] to realize that the homeless may have a problem, but it’s not hopeless, and they can change,” George said.
Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.