‘A complete effort’

Published 11:54 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Between 75-80 community members and family gathered to serve their neighbors in Lunenburg County Friday and Saturday.

During the two-day Neighbors Helping Neighbors event, people worked on projects at four different homes.

Kenbridge United Methodist Church Pastor Tim Beck said projects included building four wheelchair ramps, two porches and painting one home.

Their initial estimate of volunteers was close to 50. Beck was surprised and glad to see that number exceeded come Friday and Saturday.

He said the project started approximately eight years ago when members of the church helped build a wheelchair ramp for a blind woman in the area.

“That was really the first hands-on mission opportunity that the church took advantage of,” Beck said. “Normally they would give money to missions, but not do it themselves.”

The project created a desire for members of the congregation to minister outside the church. They went to a community called Saltville, where Beck’s grandparents were from, and helped with home construction projects for people in need.

“People started saying, ‘well, we have homes in our own community that are just like this one. Instead of us driving five hours, we could just work in our community,’” Beck said. “That’s when Neighbors started.”

He said the organization’s focus was initially on construction projects. It saw enormous success, with as many as 200 volunteering one year. He estimated that Neighbors Helping Neighbors have worked on more than 60 homes in Lunenburg County.

Beck said the congregation has been a huge proponent of the organization’s success.

He noted Brandon Spencer, vice president of Kenbridge Construction Co., was a huge proponent of the construction’s success, organizing the project managers, organizing the projects themselves and supervising projects throughout the weekend.

“Without him, things would not be as well run and organized as they are,” Beck said.

He said several employees with Kenbridge Construction attend the church, and said there are several elderly congregation members who also have construction experience. He said other congregation members prepared lunch and snacks for volunteers.

“They have all of this expertise they can bring,” Beck said. “It’s just a complete effort.”

He said the organization works on homes that applicants own, and select applicants based on their income level.

He said Neighbors Helping Neighbors does not only contain the construction projects, but also emcompasses the church’s food pantry, clothes closet and coat ministry, school supply and backpack ministries. Any outreach ministry that links the community together.

Beck said Antioch United Methodist Church church, Perseverance Christian Church in Dundas and St. Pauls & St. Andrew Episcopal Church help support the ministry.

“It went from just being us to being several other churches who joined in with us, as well as just people from Lunenburg County, now Mecklenburg County and South Hill, individuals that have heard about it and want to be a part of it,” Beck said.