Can one person still make a difference? In today’s frantic, fast-paced, combative world many of us feel helpless to act. Make a Difference Day on October 25th. Gives us an l opportunity to prove the cynics wrong.
Last weekend two elementary school children along with their mother came to our door collecting food for the food pantry. They were from the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the front of our neighborhood. The children told me their mission not their mother.
My friend Bernie Otterbein works full time as a cafeteria professional in the public schools. Every wekkend and on several afternoon during the week she picks up trash on her neighborhood streets and along the highway near her home. She often mows the lawns of those who are unable to do it themselves.
The Rev. Bill Stanfield and his wife Evelyn Oliveira, both Princeton Theological Seminary graduates, moved into an inner-city minority neighborhood. They joined the local church. They established Metanoia, the most successful mission project I know. They walk the streets asking neighbors what the needs of the community are. Most importantly they ask them what skills and abilities they are willing to contribute to help solve those problems. They have established a Leadership Academy for high school students and a housing restoration and ownership program. The ministry was originally sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Retired history professor Dr. Marvin Cann relishes his role as a Guardian Ad Litem. He spends countless hours looking out for the well-being of children who have no one else.
Each Friday 42 members of First Baptist Church of Charleston tutor third graders from a housing development. Their goal is at the end of the school year each child will be able to read at grade level or above. One of these volunteers is ninety-two year old Ann Fox.
Bobby Boston takes his therapy dog to the Veteran’s Hospital, a retirement center and to an elementary school. Children will read to his dog and will work hard for the opportunity. The residents of the retirement center look forward to those visits because many of them have out lived their families.
Richard Ulmer, M.D. donates his time to the Sea Island Free Health Clinic. He says, “I am now practicing medicine the way I intended to from the beginning.” His wife says that she has never seem him happier.
The Coastal Carolina Fair is the largest volunteer operated fair in the nation. Last year the 300 member Exchange Club of Charleston donated more than 10,000 hours to the project. The fair raised $800,000 which it donated to local charities. Since 1957 the contributions have totaled over $6,000.000.
Pat Gibson founded the Charleston Literacy Association which has taught thousands of adults to read. Lynn Young founded the Charleston Orphanage Society which filled a great need in the area.
Jessica Gibbs, mother of two, is the founder and president of For the Exceptional, a non-profit that provides interactive social outlets for handicapped children and adults. Jessica says, “I believe in being a source of light and shining for others. She quotes Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.”
All of these volunteers blend their gifts with thousands of others across the country to make our world a much better, safer and healthier place to live. To find out more about how you can participate go to www.makeadifferenceday.com or look around you and see what needs to be done